LONDON (MEMO) – Former UK Chancellor Philip Hammond has taken up a job with Saudi Arabia’s finance minister, sparking concerns over the level of access and influence the Persian Gulf kingdom will have on Britain.
Hammond, who lost the Tory whip after rebelling against Boris Johnson’s Brexit plans, has set up a consultancy firm which is said to have taken on several jobs including advising senior figures in Bahrain and Kuwait. He also aided the Saudis as they prepared to host the presidency of the G20, a position assumed by Riyadh over a year ago.
Reports of a second role with the Saudis have now emerged. Hammond’s consultancy has been asked to advise the minister of finance on delivery of the kingdom of Saudi Arabia’s medium-term financial plan to modernize the financial system.
Hammond described his role as “supporting the minister of finance and his team to be ‘intelligent clients’ of… consultancy firms and hold them to account”.
Details of the new role was published by the Advisory Committee on Business Appointments (ACOBA), a government body that considers applications under the business appointment rules about new jobs for former ministers, senior civil servants and other crown servants.
ACOBA said it had investigated the potential for a conflict of interest, but Hammond was nonetheless given the green light to take the role. “The Committee were concerned about the risks associated with a former senior minister of the Cabinet advising a foreign government, not least in terms of the access and influence you are seen to offer,” the committee said in its response to Hammond’s application. But it concluded that after consulting with the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office, No. 10 Downing Street and the Treasury, Hammond could accept the role.
One member, Larry Whitty, a Labour member of the House of Lords, registered his dissent from the committee’s majority view to allow the appointment.
Details of Hammond’s role with the Saudis follows a recent scandal involving former UK Prime Minister David Cameron who went on a desert camping holiday with Mohammed bin Salman despite Western intelligence agencies naming the Saudi Crown Prince as being the man who ordered the death of dissident Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi in October 2018.