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The New Arab Staff

Former UK finance minister who slammed 'intolerant Conservative Party' becomes Saudi government adviser

Phillip Hammond once held important UK ministerial posts [Getty]

Date of publication: 14 July, 2020

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Phillip Hammond held one of the most important UK ministerial positions.
The UK's former Chancellor of the Exchequer, Phillip Hammond, will take up an advisory role with the Saudi government, The Spectator revealed this week.

Hammond had been critical of UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson, slamming the new right-wing direction the Conservative Party was taking under his stewardship, saying it was no longer "tolerant".

It was revealed by the right-leaning British magazine that since Hammond stepped down as an MP last year, he has been headhunted for a job with the Saudi finance ministry.

His new part-time advisory role will see Hammond work with the Saudi foreign minister on preparing the kingdom for hosting the G20 summit in November.

Hammond will be engaged with meeting other G20 states - including the UK - to prepare for the summit.

The Advisory Committee on Business Appointments (ACOBA), which oversees the appointment of former ministers, said that Hammond should not be engaged in lobbying the UK government but could have contact with British officials.

Hammond's press team confirmed that his position relates to Saudi Arabia's chair of the G20 this year.

"Saudi Arabia currently holds the rotating presidency of the G20 and he is advising the Saudi finance minister in that context," the team clarified in a statement to The Spectator.

"The G20 has a vital role to play in preparing the global economy for post-Covid recovery - ensuring the recovery is as inclusive as possible."

Hammond has a history of contact with Riyadh officials and figures, including allegedly accepting a £2,000 watch by a Saudi businessman despite rules barring ministers from accepting gifts.

Last July, he visited the kingdom on a tax-payer funded trip to promote social and economic reforms, where he met the Saudi foreign minister, The Spectator added.

Riyadh has been widely criticised for its devastating military campaign in Yemen - where more than 120,000 people have been killed - and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman's ruthless suppression of perceived opponents.

Although the de-facto ruler has introduced a number of social reforms he has also been widely criticised for jailing rival princes, businessmen and activists, including women's rights' campaign Loujain Al-Hathloul.

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