The refugee crisis has become the humanitarian challenge of our time according to new Legatum Institute report.
Today as we mark UN World Refugee Day, there are more people on the move than ever before. The worldwide number of registered refugees forcibly displaced by war, persecution and violence continues to climb. In total, at least 66 million people globally are experiencing forced displacement, and many more are exposed to high levels of socioeconomic vulnerability, facing insecurity and natural hazards.
The Legatum Institute’s Global People Movements report highlights that the factors that lie behind the hazardous journeys undertaken by refugees, migrants and victims of trafficking are both varied and complex. What is clear is that these are increasingly journeys of necessity, not opportunity. It is apparent that the challenge of accommodating the current levels of displacement has become too great for 20th Century approaches, with outmoded interventions seeing many refugees and migrants spending decades in accommodation that was originally designed for temporary relief.
The Charity Commission has ruled that a pro-Brexit report from the Legatum Institute crossed a line and “may be seen as promoting a political view”. They asked the institute to remove the report from their website.
Every day Guido gets reports and policy papers from the likes of the Joseph Rowntree Foundation and the Resolution Foundation which promote more taxpayer spending on welfare, more redistribution and more taxation. Never do they suggest that supporting traditional family structures, tackling delinquent fathers or cutting taxes and letting parents keep more of their earnings to spend on their own families would be an alternative path to promoting the welfare of families. Never.
The Charity Commission said of Legatum’s report
… to be consistent with the charity’s object to advance education, a report of this nature should make clear that a desired outcome of free trade is only one of a number of the potential political outcomes that might be sought. It should present balanced, neutral evidence and analysis explaining why it has chosen to adopt a free trade perspective over others.
So the next time a report from a left-wing charity doesn’t make clear that throwing more benefits at families is only one of a number of potential political outcomes that might promote the welfare of families, Guido will be on to the Charity Commission demanding the report is withdrawn in favour of something more balanced and neutral. That seems to be the precedent…
It is an old trick to use the protection of parliamentary privilege to get out something you would have difficulty getting past newspaper lawyers. Yesterday’s claim by pro-remain MPs that the Legatum think-tank’s founder Christopher Chandler, was an “object of interest” to French intelligence is based on information originating from Robert Eringer. Eringer has been convicted of criminal defamation five times and is just not credible.
Eringer’s central allegation revolved round confusing two similarly named firms; “Sovereign Asset Management AG” which was closed down by the Swiss authorities and “Sovereign Asset Management Limited” which was operated by Chandler. Some of the allegations were made under Labour MP Liam Byrne’s byline in the New European and were rebutted at length last December. Throw in a Russian link and you have a great conspiracy theory. Unfortunately it doesn’t make any sense.
What is going on is that remainers in parliament are hitting out at a think-tank that was once home to a Brexit research team that has now moved to the Institute of Economic Affairs and so in any event no longer has any involvement in the Brexit issue. That was the real motivation for originally making these claims…
Tory MP Bob Seely has used parliamentary privilege to allege that the founder of the Legatum Institute, Christopher Chandler, was an “object of interest” to the French intelligence agency DST since 2002 “on suspicion of working for the Russian intelligence services”. Seely says the French intelligence documents naming Chandler were passed to him, Chris Bryant, Ben Bradshaw, Liam Byrne and Adam Holloway. Popcorn…
UPDATE: Legatum Group respond:
“Christopher Chandler has never been associated directly or indirectly with Russian intelligence or the Russian state. Neither Christopher Chandler nor anyone at Legatum is aware of any such alleged “investigation” by French authorities, not 16 years ago or at any time since. To be clear Christopher Chandler has never been approached at any time by the French or any other authorities regarding Russia and maintains a sterling record of ethical business practices earned over many decades. These accusations are complete nonsense, and have been previously rebutted by the Legatum Group (here).”
Shanker Singham has resigned from the Legatum Institute as Director of Economic Policy and is taking his three-strong team with him from Mayfair to Westminster to join the Institute of Economic Affairs (IEA). This is the wonk-land equivalent of Manchester City signing Manchester United’s top strikers…
Guido sources say Shanker resigned on Wednesday and the board of the IEA agreed to take him and his team pretty swiftly. The IEA is creating a new International Trade and Competition Unit for Shanker’s team, bringing with him lawyer Victoria Hewson; economist Catherine McBride; and research analyst Dr Radomir Tylecote. The three – who have a wealth of experience from the legal, technology, business and think tank worlds – will take up their roles later this month. Shanker’s team are widely recognised as the top Brexit wonks outside government.
The IEA’s Mark Littlewood tells Guido:
“I have huge admiration for the work Shanker and his team have done at the Legatum Institute. Under Philippa Stroud’s leadership, Legatum have gone from strength to strength, becoming thought leaders in crucial policy areas of which trade is only one. I look forward to continuing our strong relationship with them, and to Shanker and his team continuing their work at the IEA.”
Shanker Singham says: “We look forward to being a resource to all who need us in the trade, competition and regulatory policy space.” It is fair to say that the philanthropists who back Legatum were extremely uncomfortable with the critical political attention that the polarising Brexit work was bringing them and that this was distracting from their greater philanthropic endeavours on other issues. At the IEA Shanker will be at liberty to engage with the Westminster debate and key players more directly…
Ben Bradshaw has been forthright in his criticism of the Legatum Institute, even calling for Parliament’s Intelligence and Security Committee to investigate their Russian non-connection. That’s when he’s not busy tweeting out Louise Mensch links…
So guess who Guido was surprised to find enjoying the hospitality last night’s Legatum Prosperity Index event? Only Ben Bradshaw… Perhaps he’s starting his own investigation?
The Mail on Sunday and the Observer’sCarole Cadwalladr seem to believe Michael Gove, Boris Johnson and the Legatum Institute conspired with Putin and the Russian state to deliver Brexit. There are more than a few problems with this theory, though Guido is going to focus on the most obvious: Boris, Gove and Legatum are all staunch critics of Putin and Russia. Anyone who listens to these Gove comments from 2015, in which he rails against Putin and Russian money “subverting” the West, can be in no doubt as to his view.
“You see the influence of Russian agency and Russian money. We should not underestimate the extent to which Putin and those behind him are seeking to throw off balance and to subvert everything that we’re doing… His aim is to divide, to destabilise, and if not necessarily to conquer, at least to consolidate and advance. And inside Russia the widespread view of the Russian people is that Putin is right and the West is seeking to keep Russia down and to divide and to weaken. And for that reason we need to be sensitive to where Russian public opinion is but also vigilant about the threat. Now what does that mean we need to do in terms of our security and defence profile? The answer to that is several steps above my pay grade. But I don’t believe that any of us for a moment should be naive about what Putin is interested in or fall for some of the interpretations we might get on Russia Today or elsewhere about what his real intentions are.”
Boris meanwhile is on the record condemning Putin as a “ruthless and manipulative tyrant” who has been “illegally occupying parts of Ukraine”, adding “Putin’s proxy army was almost certainly guilty of killing the passengers on the Malaysia Airlines jet that came down in eastern Ukraine” and “he has questions to answer about the death of Alexander Litvinenko”.
As for the Legatum Institute, the focus of the latest Remainer conspiracies, as Mark Wallace notes they have a long record of opposing Putin and employed Anne Applebaum, one of the leading anti-Putin voices around. Legatum was even condemned by Russia Today for anti-Kremlin bias. Which kind of ruins the story.
Perhaps all this was an elaborate double bluff. Or it could be, as the FT’s ultra-Remainer editor Lionel Barber concludes, “a stretch”…
UPDATE: Eurosceptic source: “The idea of Gove and Boris as agents of Putin is about as believable as Geordie Greig’s claim to be an impartial editor offering a clear eyed view of Brexit.”
Guido knows poor old Tom Brake has been driven mad by Brexit. But this letter he has written to David Davis complaining about meetings between DExEU officials and the Legatum Institute is hysterical even by his standards. Brake fumes:
“I am writing to you following information I received that the Legatum Institute has had multiple meetings with officials from the Department for Exiting the European Union. Following an FOI request, it was revealed that the Legatum Institute has had six meetings with your department in the last twelve months. Six meetings, with a little known think-tank, in the middle of Brexit negotiations, when many companies severely affected by Brexit will not have had anything like that level of access is astounding… it is clear that the Legatum Institute has a reputation for advocating for a Hard Brexit. Please confirm what level of dialogue your Department had with think tanks which advocate a softer form of Brexit during that same period.”
So Brake thinks Legatum are “Hard Brexit” baddies and that giving them access is “astounding“? He should probably tell his fellow LibDem Paddy Ashdown, who attends roundtable discussions at Legatum. Or LibDem peer Baroness Bowles, who sat on a Legatum panel a few weeks ago. The long list of other prominent Remainers who have “given access” to Legatum recently include Andrew Adonis, the government’s infrastructure commission chief who is one of the chief opponents of Brexit. Are they all part of some sinister Brexiteer conspiracy? Tin foil hat time for Tom…
Vote Leave boss and EU referendum mastermind Matthew Elliott is joining the Legatum Institute. Elliott joins as a Senior Fellow and will work on the “progress and possibilities of a UK-US trade deal and exploring and researching the rise of Populism abroad, with special focus on the US and those countries facing significant elections this year and next (France, Netherlands and Germany)”. Baroness Stroud, Legatum Institute CEO said:
“Matthew’s proven campaigning skills, strength of thought leadership and ability to deliver transformational results make him key to that vision. We could not be more delighted that he has chosen to come and join the Legatum team.”
“I’m delighted to be joining the Legatum Institute as a Senior Fellow because Philippa and her team are uniquely placed to provide clear thinking for not only the UK Government, but also for policy makers right across the world. Brexit provides us with an opportunity to promote global prosperity by strengthening free trade, and the Institute is one of the only think-tanks with the skills and global reach to achieve this important objective. Clarity of thought is also required on the rise of Populism, and I look forward to analysing the similarities and differences between public opinion in Britain and overseas.”