One of the enduring charms of British politics is how slight the pecuniary rewards are for taking up the job of prime minister. American presidents can look forward to stonking great advances on their memoirs. (Barack and Michelle Obama received a joint up-front payment of £47 million from Crown publishing group.) They claim rock-star appearance fees in exchange for a few platitudes to sandalled Silicon Valley execs. (Bill and Hillary Clinton raked in £110 million in speaking fees between 2001 and 2015.) A stint in the White House boosted George H W Bush’s net worth by 475 per cent and Richard Nixon’s by 650 per cent, pocket change compared to Bill Clinton’s 6,150 per cent.
Unlike 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, no one enters No. 10 Downing Street expecting to leave fantastically wealthier. So there’s something almost admirable about David Cameron managing to parlay six not-terribly-impressive years of government work into an alleged £7 million payday from Greensill Capital. Panorama says Cameron even promoted Lex Greensill’s firm alongside the man himself at a June 2019 pitch to clients of Credit Suisse, at an event titled ‘The Future of Supply Chain Finance’. This future turned out to be a brief affair and Greensill filed for insolvency in March, but Cameron’s involvement drew attention for the WhatsApp offensive he launched, badgering ministers and senior civil servants in an (unsuccessful) effort to secure his employer access to the government-backed Covid Corporate Financing Facility.
There is no suggestion Cameron did anything unlawful. He waited the requisite two years after vacating Downing Street to begin working for Greensill. He was not registered as a lobbyist but, as an employee rather than a contracted consultant, the rules did not require him to be. The Treasury Committee’s report into the collapse of Greensill said Cameron showed ‘a significant lack of judgment’ in using ‘less formal means’ to lobby the government, an approach ‘aided by his previous position of prime minister’.