55 Tufton Street

55 Tufton Street

Background

The Westminster building located at 55 Tufton Street is home to a small but influential network of right-wing, pro-Brexit think tanks including the UK's principal climate science denial group, the Global Warming Policy Foundation. Information on the building's residents can be found below. [1]

The building itself is owned by Richard Smith, a businessman who runs an aerospace company called HR Smith Group and a former trustee of the pro-Brexit Politics and Economics Research Trust founded by former Vote Leave and Taxpayers' Alliance CEO Matthew Elliott. It was purchased in 2009 by Specmat, one of Smith’s technology manufacturing companies. While he keeps a low profile, Smith is perhaps best known for flying former Prime Minister David Cameron to his home in Shobdon, Herefordshire, in 2007. Smith is associated with several of the organisations at 55 Tufton Street and also donated money to the Vote Leave campaign (once located at the same Tufton Street address). [2], [38]

Many of the groups meet monthly to discuss “strategy and tactics”, according to an openDemocracy investigation, while Brexit campaign whistleblower Shahmir Sanni has accused nine of the organisations of running a coordinated campaign for a “hard Brexit” by agreeing on a “single set of right-wing talking points”. [47], [48]

Stance on Climate Change

The building is home to several groups that either spread misinformation about climate science or lobby against government action to reduce emissions. [2]

Key People

Building Residents

The Global Warming Policy Foundation (GWPF) exists to combat what it describes as “extremely damaging and harmful policies” designed to mitigate climate change and regularly publishes reports rejecting the scientific consensus on the issue. It was founded in the run-up to the Copenhagen climate summit in 2009 by former Conservative Chancellor Lord Nigel Lawson. Several of the GWPF's members and funders are affiliated with other groups located at 55 Tufton Street. [1], [3]

Civitas is an educational charity and publisher specializing in health, education, welfare, and economics. The think tank has published reports arguing against policies to tackle climate change, including a 2013 report by current Energy Editor of the GWPF John Constable. It claimed a shift to renewable energy would mean “more people would be working for lower wages in the energy sector, energy costs would rise, the economy would stagnate, and there would be a significant decline in the standard of living”. Sir Alan Rudge, an advisor to the GWPF, and Lord Nigel Vinson, a GWPF funder, are both trustees. The group has been criticised by Transparify for its “opaque” operations. [4], [45], [5], [6], [3], [7]

The TaxPayers’ Alliance is a pressure group and think tank formed in 2004 by Matthew Elliott to campaign for a low tax society and advocates the removal of various measures designed to reduce emissions, including the Climate Change Levy. In 2016 the TaxPayers’ Alliance, along with U.S. climate science denying lobby groups the Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI) and the Heritage Foundation, held a free trade event at the Conservative Party Conference. The group was, as of November 2015, a member of the Cooler Heads Coalition, a climate science denial umbrella group run by the CEI, but is no longer listed on its website. The Taxpayers' Alliance belongs to an international coalition of anti-tax, free-market campaign groups called the World Taxpayers Associations. Other members include the Australian Taxpayers' Alliance, Americans for Tax Reform, the Austrian Economics Center and the Canadian Taxpayers' Federation. [8], [9], [10], [35]

Business for Britain is a pro-Brexit campaign group for business leaders founded in 2013 by Matthew Elliott to push for a referendum on the UK’s membership of the EU. In 2014, it released a briefing paper on ‘Energy Policy and the EU, claiming that EU regulations and policy had driven up the cost of energy in the UK and recommending that the government should consider opting out of the EU Emissions Trading Scheme. Matt Ridley, an advisor to the GWPF, launched the Business for Britain North East branch, and Lord Vinson has acted as an advisor to the group. [11], [12], [13], [37]

The European Foundation is a high-profile Eurosceptic think tank formed in 1993 to oppose the Maastricht Treaty and chaired by Conservative MP Bill Cash. The group published a report in 2009 during the Copenhagen climate summit entitled “100 reasons why global warming is natural” which denies there is any proof that human influence has anything to do with climate change. Members of the group’s advisory board include Matthew Elliott, Richard Smith, owner of 55 Tufton Street, the former UKIP MEP Roger Helmer, and Conservative MPs David Davis, Oliver Letwin, Bernard Jenkin, John Whittingdale, Graham Brady and Iain Duncan-Smith. Owen Paterson, former environment secretary and Chairman of UK2020, another organisation based at 55 Tufton Street, is also on the advisory board. [19], [20], [21], [22]

Leave Means Leave is a pro-Brexit campaign group formed following the 2016 EU referendum to “ensure the UK makes a swift, clean exit from the EU”. It backs a “hard” Brexit, with the UK leaving the European Single Market, the Customs Union and the European Court of Justice, and supports the UK reverting to World Trade Organisation rules. The group was co-founded by Richard Tice, a property developer and now Chair of the Brexit Party, and John Longworth, former Director-General of the British Chamber of Commerce and now Chair of Leave Means Leave. Its advisory board includes MPs Sammy Wilson, Owen Paterson, Graham Stringer, Kate Hoey and Peter Bone. On a now-deleted page on the group's website, Nigel Farage was listed as its Vice-Chair, along with Tice. [49], [50], [51], [52]

Global Vision is a Eurosceptic campaign group launched in 2007 by the Conservative peer Lord Blackwell, Chair of Lloyds Banking Group and a former Board Member of the Centre for Policy Studies, and Ruth Lea, Trustee of the Global Warming Policy Foundation and an advisor to the TaxPayers’ Alliance. According to its website, the group “promotes a constructive new relationship between the UK and Europe based on free trade and mutually beneficial cooperation, whilst opting out of the process of political and economic integration”. Its Economic Advisory Panel includes Neil Record, Patrick Minford (Chair of Economists for Free Trade) and Eamonn Butler (Founder/Director of the Adam Smith Institute). A now deleted webpage listed MPs and peers belonging to the “Parliamentary Friends of Global Vision”, which included Bill Cash, Christopher Chope, Philip Davies, Peter Lilley and Lord Vinson. Its “Business Supporters” include oil and minerals businessman Algy Cluff, GWPF donor Michael Hintze, and Leader of the House of Commons Jacob Rees-Mogg. [53], [54], [55], [56], [57]

UK2020 is a right-wing think tank which has been compared to the American “Tea Party” movement and was set up by Owen Paterson in 2014. Among the policy recommendations the group calls for is “a robust, common sense energy policy that would encourage the market to choose affordable technologies to reduce emissions.” These technologies include shale gas and small modular nuclear reactors. It seeks to strip back regulations and subsidies in the energy sector designed to combat climate change. Matt Ridley of the GWPF is a policy advisor for UK2020 and Tim Montgomerie, founder of the ConservativeHome website and a former senior fellow at the Legatum Institute, is their political adviser. [23], [24], [2], [36]

The New Culture Forum is a right-wing think tank working to change cultural debates it believes are dominated by “the left”. According to the ConservativeHome blog, Matthew Elliott serves as an advisor to the forum, while Michael Gove, former UK Environment Secretary, has spoken at its events. Its founder and director is Peter Whittle, former UKIP leader in the London Assembly and Culture and Communities Spokesperson for the party. [25], [26], [27]

Past residents

Vote Leave was the official pro-Brexit campaign. The group was originally a resident of 55 Tufton Street but moved to a bigger office several months before the referendum. Members included Nigel Lawson, Matthew Elliott, Graham Stringer (also a GWPF trustee), Matt Ridley, along with prominent Conservative Party politicians Andrea Leadsom, Boris Johnson and Michael Gove. GWPF and Tory donor Michael Hintze also donated to Vote Leave. [2], [14], [15], [16], [17], [18]

55 Tufton Street Contact & Address

55 Tufton Street

Westminster

SW1P 3QL

Related Organisations

57 Tufton Street

The building next door to 55 Tufton street also houses several other like-minded think tanks. [28]

The Centre for Policy Studies is a free market think tank, co-founded by Margaret Thatcher in 1974, five years before she was elected Prime Minister. Lord Vinson was another co-founder of the organisation and subsequently served as Director. It regularly publishes work by climate science denier and anti-renewables advocate Rupert Darwall and runs the CapX news and comment website, which has published numerous articles by GWPF members criticising clean energy. Ahead of the UK's adoption of the Climate Change Act in 2008, it published a report casting doubt on climate science and arguing that energy policy should be based on long-term energy security rather than emissions reduction. The group is currently chaired by Lord Saatchi, with Sir Graham Brady, Chair of the 1922 Committee of backbench Conservative MPs, acting as Deputy Chair. [29], [30], [58], [59]

11 Tufton Street

Public First is a PR firm which aims to help its clients “understand and influence public opinion through research and targeted communications campaigns”, crafting “policy ideas that Governments can realistically apply to difficult issues”, according to its website. [39]

The company was founded by James Frayne, a Conservative political strategist who has held roles at other PR companies such as Westbourne Communications and Portland Communications, as well as having worked as Campaign Director at the Tufton-based Taxpayers' Alliance and as Director of Policy and Strategy at the right-leaning thinktank Policy Exchange. [40], [41], [42], [43]

Natascha Engel, former Labour MP known for her strong pro-fracking stance, became a Partner at the firm in July 2019, leading the company's “infrastructure and regulation” division. [44]

2 Lord North Street 

Around the corner from Tufton Street is Lord North Street, which is home to the Institute of Economic Affairs. [32]

The Institute of Economic Affairs is a free-market think-tank and “educational charity” founded in 1955 by the late Sir Anthony Fisher and Lord Harris with the mission “to improve understanding of the fundamental institutions of a free society by analysing and expounding the role of markets in solving economic and social problems.” Trustees linked to 55 Tufton Street organisations include Lord Vinson, Neil Record, and Michael Hintze. The IEA has received significant amounts of funding from anonymous donors through DonorsTrust, as well as yearly donations from oil giant BP, as revealed by Unearthed in 2018. It has also taken donations from tobacco companies. [33], [34], [60], [61]

23 Great Smith Street

The Adam Smith Institute is a libertarian think tank founded in 1977 to promote free market ideas. It has published numerous articles and reports casting doubt on climate science and downplaying the potential of alternatives to fossil fuels, calling solar power in Britain an “impossible dream.” The group has also taken donations from tobacco companies. Co-founder and Director Eamonn Butler sits on the Economic Advisory Board of Tufton Street organisation Global Vision. [62], [63], [61]

40 Great Smith Street

Open Europe is a Eurosceptic think tank that has been accused of stoking anti-EU sentiment in the UK media. In 2010, the Economist described it as a “political campaign outfit” made up of a team of young researchers who “translate and link to stories that show the EU in a bad light, in a daily press summary that has very wide circulation among political reporters”. In 2014, it published a report criticisng EU renewable energy targets which it said should be dropped “immediately”, recommending that the EU should “suspend its micromanaging energy policy-prescriptions”. [“Open Europe: the Eurosceptic group that controls British coverage of the EU,” Economist, March 31, 2010. Archived April 17, 2019. Archive.fo URL: http://archive.fo/AbUEc], [“Rotten Foundations: Time to reassess the Europe 2020 climate change targets,” Open Europe, October 23, 2014. Archived October 23, 2019. Archive.fo URL: http://archive.fo/T0tRn]

10 Buckingham Street

The Initiative for Free Trade (IFT) is a pro-Brexit, free trade think tank launched in September 2017 by Boris Johnson and Liam Fox inside the Foreign Office. The group’s president is Eurosceptic MEP Daniel Hannan, who has downplayed the threat of climate change, believing humanity can adapt to any impacts “with a fractional sum of money”. Originally called the “Institute for Free Trade” before being forced to rename by Companies House, given legal requirements around the use of the word “institute”, it published a “blueprint” for a deregulatory US-UK free trade deal in 2018, in partnership with the US-based libertarian think tank the Cato Institute. The group was previously based at 57 Tufton Street, according to Companies House records[31], [46]

Resources

  1. Mapped: The Cosy Climate-Euro Sceptic Bubble Pushing for Brexit and Less Climate Action,” DeSmog UK, June 13, 2016. Archived December 7, 2018. Archive.fo URL: http://archive.fo/S4h4b

  2. Tom Bawden. “The address where Eurosceptics and climate change sceptics rub shoulders,” The Independent, February 10, 2016. Archived December 7, 2018. Archive.fo URL: http://archive.fo/PSL5U

  3. Cahal Milmo. “Multi-millionaire backers of climate change denial think-tank revealed,” The Independent, September 2, 2014. Archived December 7, 2018. Archive.fo URL: http://archive.fo/NFG6q

  4. About Us,” Civitas. Archived December 7, 2018. Archive.fo URL: http://archive.fo/LB8x8

  5. CIVITAS LIMITED: People,” Companies House. Archived December 7, 2018. Archive.fo URL: http://archive.fo/wQC7H

  6. Academic Advisory Council,” Global Warming Policy Foundation. Archived December 7, 2018. Archive.fo URL: http://archive.fo/JNL70

  7. Mat Hope. “‘Opaque’ and ‘Deceptive’ Think Tanks Spend Millions Pushing Brexit and Climate Science Misinformation – Report,” DeSmog UK, February 8, 2017.

  8. Brian Wheeler. “The campaign group: Taxpayers’ Alliance,” BBC News, March 3, 2008. Archived December 7, 2018. Archive. fo URL: http://archive.fo/ojkik

  9. Victoria Seabrook. “Climate Science Denying US Neocon Groups Promote ‘Simple’ and ‘Freer’ Trade with UK at Tory Party Conference,” DeSmog UK, October 5, 2016.

  10. Contributors,” Cooler Heads Coalition. Archived November 27, 2015. Archive.fo URL: http://archive.fo/k9dXa

  11. Business for Britain Limited: Filing History,” Companies House. Archived December 7, 2018. Archive.fo URL: http://archive.fo/Shctk

  12. Matthew Elliott,” Brexit Central. Archived December 7, 2018. Archived .pdf on file at DeSmog.

  13. Graeme Whitfield. “Anti-EU business campaign Business for Britain launches in County Durham,” Chronicle Live, January 5, 2016. Archived December 7, 2018. Archive.fo URL: http://archive.fo/6puhX

  14. About the campaign,” Vote leave, take control. Archived December 7, 2018. Archive.fo URL: http://archive.fo/PMq23

  15. Nigel Lawson named chairman of Vote Leave campaign,” The Guardian, February 3, 2016. Archived December 7, 2018. Archive.fo URL: http://archive.fo/aDFgV

  16. Board of Trustees,” Global Warming Policy Foundation. Archived December 7, 2018. Archived .pdf on file at DeSmog.

  17. Matt Ridley. “Voting to leave the EU looks like Britain’s best option,” MattRidley, October 15, 2015. Archived December 7, 2018. Archive.fo URL: http://archive.fo/2R3QZ

  18. Kyla Mandel. “Climate Denial Funder Michael Hintze Gave £100K to Vote Leave Campaign Day Before Brexit Vote,” DeSmog UK, July 11, 2016.

  19. About,” European Foundation. Archived December 7, 2018. Archive.fo URL: http://archive.fo/reW2J

  20. Martyn Brown. “100 reasons why global warming is natural,” The Express, December 15, 2009. Archive.fo URL: http://archive.fo/XgJjS. Archived .pdf on file at DeSmog.

  21. Personnel,” European Foundation. Archived October 23, 2019. Archive.fo URL: http://archive.fo/syzEG

  22. Contact,” UK2020. Archived December 7, 2018. Archive.fo URL: http://archive.fo/SsRFi

  23. MP Owen Paterson to launch US-style 'Tea Party',” Shropshire Star, November 4, 2014. Archived December 7, 2018. Archive.fo URL: http://archive.fo/uaVkZ

  24. People,” UK2020. Archived December 7, 2018. Archive.fo URL: http://archive.fo/XnrEp

  25. About the NCF,” New Culture Forum. Archived December 7, 2018. Archive.fo URL: http://archive.fo/B3e5s

  26. Matthew Elliott,” ConservativeHome. Archived December 7, 2018. Archive.fo URL: http://archive.fo/LrcbH

  27. Michael Gove at the New Culture Forum,”, New Culture Forum, January 23, 2007. Archived December 7, 2018. Archive.fo URL: http://archive.fo/NXI44

  28. Tufton Street,” Endole. Archive.fo URL: http://archive.fo/tGbwO. Archived .pdf on file at DeSmog.

  29. Who we are,” Centre for Policy Studies. Archived December 7, 2018. Archive.fo URL: http://archive.fo/tOFkr

  30. Lord Vinson,” Parliament. Archived December 7, 2018. Archive.fo URL: http://archive.fo/VeAGP

  31. Mat Hope. “Introducing the Institute for Free Trade: A New Pro-Brexit Thinktank tied to the UK’s Climate Science Denier Network,” DeSmog UK, September 27, 2017.

  32. Contact us,” Institute of Economic Affairs. Archived December 7, 2018. Archive.fo URL: http://archive.fo/C2m9X

  33. About us,” Institute of Economic Affairs. Archived December 7, 2018. Archive.fo URL: http://archive.fo/Mqkgc

  34. Trustees,” Institute of Economic Affairs. Archived December 7, 2018. Archive.fo URL: http://archive.fo/7HGYF

  35. About us,” World Taxpayers Associations. Archived May 20, 2019. Archive.fo URLhttp://archive.fo/kE28O

  36. People,” UK2020. Archived May 20, 2019. Archive.fo URLhttp://archive.fo/ugqT7

  37. Mike Kelly. “EU referendum: Viscount Ridley on why leaving Europe is best for the North East,” Chronicle Live, January 5, 2016. Archived May 20, 2019. Archive.fo URLhttp://archive.fo/5a1Hh

  38. Trustees,” The Politics and Economics Research Trust. Archived January 25, 2016. Archive.fo URLhttp://archive.fo/JaWaM

  39. Homepage,” Public First. Archived July 11, 2019. Archive.fo URL: http://archive.fo/w1fbA

  40. Our people,” Public First. Archived July 11, 2019. Archive.fo URL: http://archive.fo/77QIz

  41. David Singleton. “Department for Education hires James Frayne as comms chief,” PR Week, February 24, 2011. Archived July 11, 2019. Archive.fo URL: http://archive.fo/t1JW8

  42. James Frayne,” Harriman House. Archived July 11, 2019. Archive.fo URL: http://archive.fo/daUvj

  43. James Frayne,” Policy Exchange. Archived July 11, 2019. Archive.fo URL: http://archive.fo/DyaQ0

  44. Stephen Delahunty. “Public First hires former House of Commons deputy speaker,” PR Week, July 2, 2019. Archived July 11, 2019. Archive.fo URL: http://archive.fo/uDxDH

  45. Tom Bawden. “Britain's leading private university ‘becoming a mouthpiece for fossil-fuel industry’,” Independent, March 30, 2015. Archived October 23, 2019. Archive.fo URLhttp://archive.fo/mtpMj

  46. Felicity Lawrence, David Pegg, Rob Evans. “Rightwing thinktanks unveil radical plan for US-UK Brexit trade deal,” Guardian, September 18, 2018. Archived October 23, 2019. Archive.fo URL: http://archive.fo/Fttto

  47. Adam Ramsay, Peter Geoghegan. “Revealed: how the UK’s powerful right-wing think tanks and Conservative MPs work together,” openDemocracy, July 31, 2018. Archived October 23, 2019. Archive.fo URL: http://archive.fo/z0CJU

  48. Chloe Farand. “Mapped: Whistleblower Accuses Nine Organisations of Colluding over Hard Brexit,” DeSmog, July 23, 2018.

  49. Our Campaign,” Leave Means Leave. Archived October 24, 2019. Archive.fo URL: http://archive.fo/OSgms

  50. Advisory Board,” Leave Means Leave. Archived October 24, 2019. Archive.fo URLhttp://archive.fo/Lz13E

  51. Richard Tice. “Stop the betrayal of Brexit. Join us on the March to Leave.ConservativeHome, March 10, 2019. Archived May 3, 2019. Archive.fo URL: http://archive.fo/D69H4

  52. Who we are,” Leave Means Leave. Archived February 4, 2019. Archive.fo URLhttp://archive.fo/7rihv

  53. UK can shape new European relationship (Financial Times),” Centre for Policy Studies, January 7, 2013. Archived October 24, 2019. Archive.fo URLhttp://archive.fo/8c98Q

  54. Our Vision,” Global Vision. Archived October 24, 2019. Archive.fo URLhttp://archive.fo/hHPzC

  55. Economic Advisory Panel,” Global Vision. Archived October 24, 2019. Archive.fo URLhttp://archive.fo/bS4nr

  56. “Parliamentary Friends,” Global Vision. Archived February 7, 2012. Archive.fo URLhttp://archive.fo/w1gcz

  57. Business Supporters,” Global Vision. Archived October 25, 2019. Archive.fo URLhttp://archive.fo/wT2W5

  58. Martin Livermore. “Climate Change: a guide to the scientific uncertainties,” Centre for Policy Studies, March 2007. Archived October 25, 2019. Archive.fo URLhttp://archive.fo/l8WiH

  59. Our Board,” Centre for Policy Studies. Archived October 25, 2019. Archive.fo URLhttp://archive.fo/yVP2h

  60. Lawrence Carter, Alice Ross. “Revealed: BP and gambling interests fund secretive free market think tank,” Unearthed, July 30, 2018. Archived May 3, 2019. Archived .pdf on file at DeSmog.

  61. Health groups dismayed by news 'big tobacco' funded rightwing thinktanks.” The Observer, June 1, 2013. Archived September 29, 2015. Archive.is URLhttps://archive.is/TRdJz

  62. Alex Singleton. “Parliament goes hostile on climate change,” Adam Smith Institute, September 11, 2013. Archived April 30, 2019. Archived .pdf on file at DeSmog.

  63. SOLAR POWER IN BRITAIN: THE IMPOSSIBLE DREAM,” Adam Smith Institute, October 14, 2016. Archived January 10, 2017. Archive.is URLhttps://archive.is/sCktv

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