Last week, I wrote about the West Coast contract farce as follows:
‘“There was always a suspicion on Branson’s part that the award was improper in some way,” an expert in the sector alleges, “which coming from him is somewhat amusing. He’s been on at Cameron to intervene for months now, and it looks like he got his way.”
Did Branson get to Cameron? It looks as though he didn’t physically do so, but in the sense of rattling his cage – yes, he did.’
From the Telegraph last night:
‘David Cameron personally intervened in the bidding process for the West Coast Main Line and asked the Cabinet Secretary, Sir Jeremy Heywood, to investigate the matter after a private appeal from Sir Richard Branson.’
I will keep on saying this until someone pays attention: there is a cover-up of something very smelly going on here. But in the meantime, is this not just one more grubby example of how Dave works? Billionaire supporter gets on the dog and bone, and suddenly there’s a 180 degree U-turn.
I’m told by insiders that FirstGroup CEO Tim O’Toole has had lawyers crawling all over this since last Wednesday. This is also partly confirmed by the Torygraph piece, but Mr O’Toole is going to wind up pressing for a lot more than repayment of bid costs: perhaps because he too knows that the last thing the Prime Minister wants is any more evidence of naughtiness coming to light.
“There’ll be an enquiry [and] we’ll get to the bottom of it,” he told the Telegraph. Anyone who saw his performance on the Marr Show this morning will know precisely how seriously to take that promise.