Newly Appointed Government Special Advisers Linked to Brexit Climate Denier Network

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Theresa May arrives at Number 10

The names of those who have been appointed as special advisers in Prime Minister Theresa May’s new cabinet have been steadily trickling out these past few weeks.

Among these newly announced special advisors, or SpAds, are Nick Timothy – the man credited with the demise of the Department for Energy and Climate Change (DECC) – and Rob Oxley of Vote Leave and the Taxpayers’ Alliance.

Meanwhile several others have previously worked on campaigns for Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson’s London mayoral candidacy, and many more of them formed part of Vote Leave’s core campaign staff.

Here we take a look at some of those who have been appointed so far and their links to the Brexit Climate Deniers:

Theresa May

Nick Timothy and Fiona Hill will join the new prime minister as her joint-chiefs of staff – both have previously worked for May as SpAds in her role in the Home Office and are known to be fiercely loyal to her.

Hill for the past few years has been working for lobby and PR firm Lexington Communications, which counts fracking firm Cuadrilla among its clients.

Timothy, described as “hugely influential” on May’s work, is credited in the Telegraph with being the man behind the scrapping of DECC. And according to the Financial Times, he’s not a fan of green taxes either.

This past April, Timothy called the Climate Change Act a “monstrous act of self-harm”, echoing a favourite line used by those in the climate science denying Global Warming Policy Foundation (GWPF).

John Godfrey is May’s new director of policy. Most recently he’s worked as director of corporate affairs at Legal & General – which this week offered millions towards building a new Gatwick runway – and prior to that he was a director of communications at Lehman Brothers. In the late 1980s Godfrey was also special advisor to Minister of State John Patten and then Home Secretary Douglas Hurd.

May’s new communications director is Katie Perrior, former senior media advisor to David Davis when he was shadow Home Secretary. Perrior also helped run the PR campaign for Boris Johnson’s 2008 campaign for mayor, as well as his 2012 bid for a second term. Perrior’s own PR firm, iNHouse Clients, counted Centrica among its clients up until November 2015.

Lizzie Loudon will become May’s new press secretary. A former special advisor to Iain Duncan Smith when he was Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, Loudon most recently worked on communications for the Vote Leave campaign.

Finally, May’s head of features is Liz Sanderson, who’s worked with May since 2014 after leaving her job at the Mail on Sunday.

Priti Patel

One of Patel’s new SpAds at the Department for International Development (DFID) will be Robert Oxley, a vocal critic of the UK’s aid spending target. As the former head of media for Vote Leave and previous campaign director at the Taxpayers’ Alliance (TPA), his appointment was welcomed by Matt Ridley on twitter, who wrote: “great news, let me know how to contact you there if poss. [sic]”

On climate finance – something which, along with climate adaptation, DFID has been involved in – Oxley, in his role at the TPA, was once quoted alongside the GWPF’s Lord Lawson, saying: “Ministers should be focusing on how they spend every penny rather than increasing the already sizeable budget that we send abroad.

International aid is there to help the poorest but that does not mean that taxpayers cannot demand value for money. People will find it bizarre that we are spending even more money propping up governments abroad.”

The appointment has raised further concerns about Patel’s commitment to the Department’s objectives (she’s been previously quoted that DFID should be scrapped). Labour MP Stephen Doughty, member of the international development select committee, has called it a “deeply worrying appointment.”

Liam Fox

David Goss has been Fox’s SpAd since October 2014, prior to which he worked as a press officer to the Conservative Party for more than two years, so it’s expected he’ll join Fox in the International Trade department. Goss also helped on Johnson’s 2012 campaign.

Fox has made a remarkable come-back after he was forced to resign as shadow Defence Secretary in 2011 amidst controversy over his relationship with friend and self-styled, unofficial adviser Adam Wherrity and their work for the now defunct Atlantic Bridge organisation which held close ties to US neocon groups.

While shadow Defence Secretary, one of Fox’s three SpAds included Luke Coffey, an American army captain who now works for the Washington DC-based free market, climate denying Heritage Foundation (where incidentally, Fox gave a speech in 2014).

Boris Johnson

Will Walden is expected to continue working with Johnson as his new SpAd after spending years working as the former London Mayor’s communications director. Prior to that, Walden worked in the media for 20 years and was poached by Johnson from the BBC.

Andrea Leadsom, Greg Clark, and David Davis

One of Leadsom’s new SpAds at the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) is expected to be Lee Cain, Vote Leave’s former head of broadcast.

According to Guido Fawkes’s running updates, it looks like Greg Clark will be taking his SpAds Jacob Wilmer and Meg Powell-Chandler with him to the new Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) department.

Meanwhile, no word yet on who’s going to be heading up Davis’ SpAd team over at the Brexit Department. We'll be updating this page as new information comes in.

Photo: Number 10 via Flickr

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