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Greensill shows it’s time to clean up government. Start with politicians’ private messaging

Successive governments have sought to circumvent civil service bureaucracy by using private communication channels. But these shortcuts remove necessary checks on political power—as the Greensill scandal shows

By Rachel Sylvester  

Photo: ZUMA Press, Inc. / Alamy Stock Photo

Soon after David Cameron became prime minister, he attended his first G8 heads of government dinner—the elite social occasion at which the most powerful men and women in the world are supposed to bond over the dover sole with no officials present. He was amazed to discover, he later told me, that Barack Obama, Nicolas Sarkozy and Angela Merkel spent the whole time texting their aides for advice. 

The former prime minister took this to heart and learned from their example. If Tony Blair ran a “sofa government,” with a small clique squashed onto the soft furnishings in…

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