It doesn’t surprise This Writer that Sajid Javid has taken advantage of the revolving door between big business and national governments, picking up a part-time job at JP Morgan.
This is a return to his banking career (although with a different bank) where, some will tell you, he helped cause the financial crisis that led to the downfall of Gordon Brown’s New Labour government and the rise of the Con-Dem ‘austerity’ coalition that caused so much further harm between 2010 and 2015.
A BBC article has kindly detailed advice to MPs on the “potential risks” of taking a second job while continuing to be a member of Parliament:
If a former minister wants to start a job less than two years after leaving their government role, they should first seek advice from ACOBA – the Advisory Committee on Business Appointments.
In its advice to Mr Javid, the committee warns that the former chancellor’s “privileged access to information” means accepting a job with JP Morgan carries “potential risks”.
“Privileged information” refers to official information a minister has gained as a result of their job, but which is not available to the public.
This privileged insight could give the MP’s employer – in Mr Javid’s case JP Morgan – an unfair advantage over their competitors.
Specifically, the committee points to his knowledge of “potentially at risk firms” and the government’s likely post-Brexit policies.
However, the committee says in its advice on Mr Javid’s new job that these risks are partly mitigated by the change in economic conditions caused by the coronavirus pandemic.
“The information you had access to is unlikely to be significantly up to date given recent events, which will significantly impact the economic and political context,” the committee says.
Isn’t it precisely this “privileged information” that makes Javid valuable to his new employer?
ACOBA provides advice on avoiding “potential risks” including a prohibition on using privileged information about Brexit that was available to him while he was a minister, and on lobbying the government on JP Morgan’s behalf.
It is easy to circumvent these prohibitions.
He is permitted to advise on the impact of the coronavirus, the future direction of the EU, emerging markets and geopolitics – and as a sitting member of Parliament who was involved in whatever passes for long-term planning in a government under Boris Johnson, we can expect that information to justify the undoubtedly huge paycheque he’ll be drawing.
Let’s face it: this stinks.
There is only one way to ensure that former ministers do not give away privileged information to new employers in big business who are paying them huge fees.
That is to forbid them from ever taking such employment.
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