Revolving Door UK

Analysis of data from the Advisory Committee on Business Appointments (ACOBA), the body responsible for regulating the ‘revolving door’ between the public and private sector, reveals a total of 604 post-government roles were taken up by 217 high-ranking civil servants, special advisers and ministers between January 2017 and June 2022.

Of these 604 roles, 177 (29%) had an overlap with the minister’s or official’s former policy area.

A breakdown by industry shows this is most prevalent in the defense sector, with 81 percent of post-public roles (39 out of 48) overlapping with former officeholders’ previous briefs. In the education sector, 58 percent (18 out of 31) of roles were related to previous policy responsibilities.

Managing revolving door risks in Westminster provides an in-depth look at the movement of individuals between positions of public office and jobs in the private or voluntary sector, and the associated corruption risks. Half of all members of the Johnson and Theresa May governments took up jobs in companies that they had been responsible for regulating. 

George Osborne

A committee of MPs accused the former chancellor of showing “disrespect” for the rules when he accepted the editorship of the Evening Standard in March 2017 without clearing it with Acoba.(Advisory Committee on Business Appointments)   Osborne took up at least 10 private sector jobs within five years of leaving office. They included a £650,000-a-year role with BlackRock, the world’s largest fund manager.

Boris Johnson

The former prime minister is a double flouter of rules designed to regulate post-government appointments. Former ministers are supposed to seek the advice of the notoriously toothless Advisory Committee on Business Appointments (Acoba) before taking up new roles.

Johnson committed a “clear breach” of these rules when he told Acoba that he was becoming a Daily Mail columnist last June, only 30 minutes before his job was publicly announced. He had previously taken up a lucrative column as a Daily Telegraph columnist in 2018 without informing Acoba, just weeks after he resigned as foreign secretary.

George Eustice 

After nine years as environment minister, including nearly two as secretary of state, Eustice set up a company to advise businesses on farming technology and the water sector. 

Philip Hammond

The former chancellor accused Acoba of trying to demonstrate it was not “toothless” when it criticised him for approaching a senior Treasury official on behalf of OakNorth bank. Acoba’s chairman, Eric Pickles, had told Hammond: “I do not consider it was in keeping with the letter or the spirit of the government’s rules for the former chancellor to contact HMT on behalf of a bank which pays for his advice.

Other occasions where former Conservative cabinet ministers failed to consult Acoba over new roles include: the former culture secretary Nadine Dorries when she became a TalkTV host; the former home secretary Priti Patel when she accepted a role with the advisory firm Viasat; and the former health secretary Matt Hancock when he was paid to appear on I’m a Celebrity … Get Me Out of Here!