The case of the Tory housing minister, Robert Jenrick, and the Westferry property developer, Richard Desmond, must not be allowed to slip away like so much of this government’s lamentable behaviour. Desmond’s statement (‘We don’t want to give Marxists doe’: texts between Desmond and Jenrick, 24 June) reveals his ideological prejudices and contempt for the Tower Hamlets community where he seeks to locate 1,524 apartments.
In a borough where 48% of children live in poverty and a fifth of families have an annual income of below £15,000, few locals will be queuing up to pay the average £2m being asked for three-bedroom units there. Desmond’s attempts to avoid paying the £45m community infrastructure levy to enable the provision of vital health, education and play facilities, against a multibillion-pound development return looks decidedly cynical. Any ministerial collusion found in this affair should be cause for immediate resignation or dismissal.
• Richard Desmond clearly feels comfortable texting the minister responsible for planning saying “We don’t want to give Marxists loads of doe [sic] for nothing”, and the result is that Tower Hamlets loses £45m funding for local infrastructure improvements. The Labour borough is condemned as Marxist and because of that local people forgo any kind of upgrade to infrastructure that would be needed to cope with 1,524 new dwellings.
Equally bad, the affordable housing provision, which was originally to be 36%, is dropped to 21% and that’s endorsed by Jenrick. So much for “levelling up” in one of London’s poorest communities. And all bought so cheaply by Desmond, who forked out a £12,000 donation to the Tory party, entirely coincidentally, a fortnight after Jenrick’s decision.
David Cameron recognised back in 2010 that corporate lobbying was undermining confidence in the political system. Pity he or his successors never addressed this.
Much Wenlock, Shropshire
• Thursday morning’s Radio 4 Today interview with Nadhim Zahawi deserves the widest possible publicity. When challenged to deny that a tycoon had privileged access to a minister, Zahawi’s response was that any member of the public could attend a Conservative fundraising event and sit next to a Tory MP. This off-the-cuff justification says all we need to know about this individual’s concept of democracy.
The fact that he is allowed to remain in government after condoning money for access, coupled with Jenrick’s continued tenure despite a contemptuous lack of contrition for his conduct, also tells us all we need to know about the government’s attitude to the millions who voted for it.
Prof Rob Merkin
• It won’t make any difference how high the heat is turned up under Robert Jenrick or how bad the smell is, as Boris Johnson won’t seek his resignation. Johnson has set the bar low on integrity to conform to his own standards. That was depressingly evident in his defence of Dominic Cummings, which made clear that the leading criteria for being part of his team is blind, unquestioning loyalty.
Llandrindod Wells, Powys
• If it can be proved that Robert Jenrick assisted an associate to save up to £45m then he must resign as housing secretary. As a Tory member, my subscription fee supports the Conservatives. Tower Hamlets is not run by Marxists and funds are sorely needed there.
• The news that the Tory party only received £12,000 from Richard Desmond after Robert Jenrick saved him £45m doesn’t bode well for this government’s Brexit negotiations.