LEON BRITTAN NAMED IN PARLIAMENT AS A CHILD ABUSER PAEDOPHILE JIM HOOD MP OCT 2014
The former home secretary Leon Brittan – Nick Clegg’s first political boss – made a surprise return to the frontline of British politics today, 24 years after he left Margaret Thatcher’s government.
Brittan is the man thought to have first spotted Clegg’s political potential when the then EU commissioner gave him a job in Brussels, and the coalition has returned the favour, appointing the 70-year-old to a full-time, paid role as a trade adviser.
Despite Clegg “holding the fort” while David Cameron is on holiday, it was No 10 which made the announcement, saying the peer had “unrivalled experience and knowhow”.
Brittan will start the job in September, be paid £500 a day for its six-month duration and work towards “removing trade barriers and stimulating investment”.
Cameron has placed expanding trade relationships as central to his agenda, saying he would be “messianic” about opening up markets as a means of remodelling Britain’s economy.
He has been undermined, however, by an inability to appoint a trade minister; the coalition has struggled to find a candidate for that role as the appointment would require him or her to relinquish any roles on company boards. For the duration of his appointment, Brittan will leave his role as vice-chairman of UBS AG.
The shadow business secretary, Pat McFadden, described it as a “major embarrassment” that after 100 days, “no proper trade minister” had yet been found. He said: “Three months and counting and still no trade minister appointed. This is now a major embarrassment for the government.”
The former Standard Chartered chairman and Labour trade minister Mervyn Davies declined an offer to continue in the post, saying he wanted to return to the private sector. Cameron also offered the post to Sir John Rose, chief executive of Rolls-Royce.
Now Brittan will work just as an adviser while the government works to appoint a minister “reasonably soon”.
Clegg worked as one of Brittan’s aides when he was EU commissioner for trade. One of Brittan’s many roles, in his new job, will be to make progress with the Doha round of international trade talks – a similar task on which he worked with the younger Clegg.
Mischief makers have long said that Brittan told Clegg he would make an excellent Tory prime minister and this part of Clegg’s career is often referenced by detractors who believe he is more Conservative than Liberal.
Clegg insists that Brittan’s key role in his career was to introduce him to the then Liberal Democrat leader Paddy Ashdown when he visited Brittan in Brussels. After that meeting, Clegg became more active as a Lib Dem.
Brittan, then trade and industry secretary, resigned in 1986 over the Westland helicopters affair, when he was shown to have leaked a letter critical of the minister at the centre of the scandal, Michael Heseltine.