Bet Against Banks Leaving


Anthony Browne of the British Bankers Association is a deservedly well paid lobbyist on behalf the industry. He earned his crust this weekend by getting the Observer’s front page splash:


The lurid claim made in the first line is that

“Britain’s biggest banks are preparing to relocate out of the UK in the first few months of 2017 amid growing fears over the impending Brexit negotiations, while smaller banks are making plans to get out before Christmas.”

This echoes the claims made during the referendum campaign – claims which included that Britain will go into immediate recession this year if we dared to vote to leave the EU. Guido tried to bet anyone of the 71% of City economists who made that claim £1,000 that there would be no recession in 2016. Not one economist him up on the wager. So Guido’s new offer is to Anthony: £1000 says that not one leading bank will give up its UK banking licence next year to relocate to the EU.

Winnings to charity. Well Anthony, do we have a bet?

Joey Jones Quits Home Office For Weber Shandwick


Joey Jones has left his role spinning at the Home Office to become head of public affairs at Weber Shandwick. There was surprise that the former Sky News man didn’t follow Theresa May to Number 10, a job in which he surely would have thrived, and now he’s off to make some money in the private sector. Congratulations…

Remainers Split Over Freedom of Movement


The remnants of the Remain campaign have descended into an almighty squabble over their future direction. Britain Stronger In Europe has rebranded as Open Britain, a new lobbying group which has ditched the commitment to freedom of movement, a pillar of Europhile principle. On Sunday, Open Britain’s founders wrote:

“The strength of feeling is clear. Free movement of people cannot continue as it has done. It has to be reformed.”

This has caused other prominent Remainers to kick off. Guido hears a letter is being circulated among pro-EU groups condemning BSE and Open Britain. Signatories include the man in charge of Scientists for EU, previously one of BSE’s main backers. Meanwhile the CEO of the European Movement, Matthew Fulton, says “our red lines are protecting freedom of movement”. When asked whether BSE and the European Movement were still on the same side, Fulton responded:

“At the time we were, but now with their lack of commitment to freedom of movement – I know it’s not popular thing in the country at the moment – but there needs to be people making that argument.”

Soft Remain versus hard Remain…

Smith Campaign Hires Another Big Pharma Lobbyist


What is it about Owen Smith and Big Pharma lobbyists? Fresh from hiring Pfizer PR guru Jon Lehal as his chief of operations, Smith has taken on a former AstraZeneca lobbyist as his director of communications. Will Tanner was until recently the head of Finsbury PR’s UK public affairs team, where he proudly boasted of his work for top pharmaceutical companies. Tanner has for the last decade been right hand man to mega-rich super-lobbyist Roland Rudd, the Remain campaign’s éminence grise. Which explains why Smith is so keen on his democracy-defying plan for a second referendum. Oily Smith is a former Big Pharma lobbyist, whose campaign is being run by a former Big Pharma lobbyist, and whose spinner is another former Big Pharma lobbyist…

UPDATE: A pro-Corbyn source gets in touch:

“What would Nye say? Pretending to be the heir to Nye Bevan and having one big pharma lobbyist running your campaign is sloppy, but having two is either suspicious or incompetent or both. It’s clear now that Owen Smith doesn’t give a Pfizer about our NHS.”

Serjeant at Arms Gets Complaint About Carolyn Harris


The Serjeant at Arms has been sent a complaint by one of Carolyn Harris’s constituents, demanding to know why she has granted a pass to lobbyist Lawrence Bailey who told Guido he was “not an employee or member of Carolyn’s staff.” The Serjeant’s office can now begin the official complaints procedure, which could see Bailey have his pass revoked and Harris face sanctions. This follows on from a complaint to Harris earlier this week from the director general of lobbying trade association the PRCA. Bailey’s made at least £51,305.60 from the taxpayer for doing what amounts to “5+ days a month support”, doing PR for an opposition backbencher and her predecessor, the former of which nobody had heard of until she became embroiled in allegations of homophobic abuse to a staff member. Time to take away the public teat…

PRCA Complain to Carolyn Harris Over Lobbyist’s Pass


Following up Guido’s story Francis Ingham, the ever-lunching director general of the trade association for lobbyists the PRCA, has written an open letter to Carolyn Harris to complain about the lobbyist being granted a parliamentary pass by her. Guido revealed that Harris had granted a parliamentary pass to Lawrence Bailey of Whiterock Consulting, a man who was by his own admission “not an employee or member of Carolyn’s staff.” The PRCA’s Director General writes:

“I would like to remind you of your obligations to behave ethically as this story undermines the reputation of the lobbying industry and the integrity of MPs.

… Mr Bailey should have never entertained the idea of a parliamentary pass, and as an MP you should have never employed a lobbyist and given him a pass. Situations like this can seriously damage the public’s trust in politics.

We hope that there will be some swift action to clarify the situation. Will this matter be referred to the Commons Authority by yourself? Will Mr. Bailey be questioned as well?”

Bailey, who has so far received at least £51,305.60 in taxpayers cash while working for Harris and her predecessor, is not a PRCA member but is still bound by Parliament’s rules, which strictly forbids granting passes to lobbyists. Quite something for an MP to be blasted by lobbyists for a lack of ethics…

Labour MP Gives Lobbyist Parliamentary Pass

whiterock harris bailey

A Labour MP has handed a parliamentary pass to a lobbyist, giving him unfettered access to the corridors of power. Carolyn Harris is employing Lawrence Bailey, a “public affairs specialist” for Whiterock Consulting, among her parliamentary staff. When Guido asked Harris if she thought it was appropriate to employ a lobbyist in parliament, we received this response from Bailey:

“Just to clarify, I am not an employee or member of Carolyn’s staff. I am a self-employed sole trader. My firm, Whiterock Consulting, is retained by Carolyn Harris MP. We provide 5+ days a month support.”

Guido pointed out that Bailey appears on the MPs’ Register of Staff, directly contradicting his statement. He replied:

“Clearly I work for Carolyn but not as a member of her parliamentary/constituency staff.”

If he is not a staff member, why is he registered as one? Why does he have a parliamentary pass and a parliamentary email address?

Bailey concedes the arrangement is “confusing” but claims it is not “unusual“. He says he needs the pass to access Harris’ office and insists there is no conflict of interest: “I dispute any implied misuse of my parliamentary pass”. An MP has given a parliamentary pass to a lobbyist and declared him as a staff member, even though he isn’t. The Commons authorities will want to take a look at this…

Owen Smith Hires Top Pfizer Lobbyist to Run Campaign


Owen Smith has hired a leading corporate lobbyist who works for Pfizer to run his leadership campaign, Guido can reveal. John Lehal is the smoothie MD of lobbying firm Insight Consulting, and boasts among his clients Big Pharma giants Pfizer, Novartis and Bristol-Myers Squibb. Lehal’s dealings sparked controversy when he was signed up to run Andy Burnham’s doomed leadership bid last year. Smith used to spin for Pfizer himself and has been dogged by his links to lobbyists over the last week, so it’s a stunning judgment call for him to be using another Pfizer lobbyist who loves Tony Blair:


John Lehal declined several opportunities to comment. A spokesman for Owen Smith doesn’t deny Lehal is working on the campaign:

“The campaign is still in the process of being set up and no formal paid appointments have yet been made. We expect to be able to finalise staff details at a later date.”

Owen Smith is the Blairite former Big Pharma lobbyist whose campaign is being run by a Blairite Big Pharma lobbyist. Too easy for the Corbynistas…

UPDATE: Smith’s team have now confirmed Lehal will be their Chief of Operations. He’s also signed up Corbyn’s former policy chief Neale Coleman.

“Rest in Power”: Corporate Spin Doctors Take Control of Cox Image


After yesterday’s genuinely tear-jerking tributes in parliament, a media event has been organised tomorrow in Trafalgar Square in memory of Jo Cox. […]


Taxpayer Funded ASH Lobbied Government for Plain-Packs

tobacco lobbyists

Outraged anti-smoking charity ASH reacted with glee to the news that an attempt by a consortium of tobacco manufacturers to overturn the government’s plain-packaging legislation had been lost. The charity’s chief executive, Deborah Arnott, was particularly exultant:

“Millions of pounds have been spent on some of the country’s most expensive lawyers in the hope of blocking the policy.



Uber, But For Brexit


Isabel Oakeshott’s write up of working the room with Arron Banks at the White House Correspondents Dinner is filled with nuggets. She reveals the Uber app comms chief Rachel Whetstone is backing Brexit:

“Hovering at entrance to the 30,000-square-foot ballroom, we are surprised to bump into David Cameron’s former policy chief Steve Hilton, now US-based.



Farron Bankrolled By Disgraced Rwanda Spinners

Farron Rwanda

Tim Farron has accepted a £2,000 donation from a disgraced lobbying company which smeared critics of the Rwandan government. BTP Advisers boss Mark Pursey, who used to work for the LibDems, was caught boasting how his firm set up an “attack site” targeting people who “over-criticised” over “who did what in the genocide”.[…]


Lobbyist Flame War Revenge

Yesterday Guido brought you the PR flame war being waged over Google adverts. Spinmeisters at Cicero had bought ads targeted to appear whenever someone searched the name of one of their rivals:

Well, one such rival has exacted digital revenge. This is what comes up when you google Cicero this morning:

Clearly a slow week in spin world…[…]


Lobbyist Flame War Via Google Ads

Things are getting nasty in the slippery world of PR spinmeisters and lobbyists. The digital Machiavellis over at Cicero have bought these punchy Google adverts targeted to appear when someone searches the name of one of their rivals:

These screenshots were taken this morning:

Searches for rival PR firms told Googlers to take their business elsewhere:

The message is not exactly subtle:

So Bell Pottinger, Brunswick, Blue Rubicon and Edelman – you gonna take that?[…]


Ed Davey Defends EDF Deal

Ed Davey’s worst ever Hinkley Point C deal, which will allow owners EDF to charge treble the current market rate for 35 years, was featured on the Today Programme this morning. The BBC failed to mention at any point before, during, or after Davey’s interview that he is now working for EDF’s lobbying firm, MHP.[…]


Cash-For-Access MP Faces Standards Commissioner Probe

Laurence Robertson, the Tory MP at the centre of a cash-for-access row following Guido’s two stories yesterday, has been reported to the Standards Commissioner. Edward Buxton, who was Labour’s candidate in Robertson’s Tewkesbury seat, writes to Kathryn Hudson:

Dear Mrs Hudson,

I wish to refer you to the recent allegations that have been made regarding my local Member of Parliament Laurence Robertson and his award of a parliamentary pass to a lobbyist​. 



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