Socialist Worker

Boris Johnson’s mate got £1.4 million of your cash

Issue No. 2695

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You're paying for Johnson and his mates to 'network at the highest levels' (Pic: Number 10/Flickr)


A firm run by Boris Johnson’s tennis partner is being paid £1.4 million of government cash to help officials “network” rich people.

The money is being paid to Quintessentially, a “luxury ­lifestyle” company. The firm was ­cofounded by Ben Elliot—an Old Etonian friend of the prime minister—and charges well-heeled clients thousands of pounds to meet powerful people.

Elliot was appointed co-chairman of the Conservatives last summer and raised funds for Johnson’s election. In January 2019, he was picked as the government’s first “food waste tsar”.

The Department for International Trade (DIT) has paid Quintessentially £1.4 ­million to enable civil servants and the super-rich to “network at the highest levels”.

Quintessentially marketed itself for two decades as a personal assistant to the 0.1 percent.

The company advertises that it has secured clients a private dinner at Buckingham Palace hosted by Elliot and invitations to events where customers might rub ­shoulders with political ­figures. Prince Charles is quoted in  a promotional video.

Quintessentially has faced allegations of financial ­mismanagement and has been accused of a macho working culture.

Late last year it paid ­millions of pounds to settle a lawsuit brought by two of its senior female executives.

The firm’s structure was “opaque and complex”, court papers said, and it claimed that the group’s directors took ­“substantial” ­management fees and “aggressive” dividends from the operating companies.

The result of the ­payments had allegedly been to make Quintessentially’s events business “technically insolvent”, according to the report. The lawsuit also cited a recording of a board ­meeting in 2019 during which directors discussed the possibility of reducing a corporation tax.

Elliot was alleged to have said at the prospect of paying tax, “We can’t give the ­fucking thing to the government.”

In 2017, the company said it was building a 220-metre superyacht that would be the “world’s largest floating private members club for the global elite”—although the vessel has yet to materialise.


Plans for a Lidl supermarket just 600 yards from an atomic warhead factory are set to be blocked over fears shoppers won’t be able to get out if there is a nuclear disaster. The supermarket wants to build the store close to the Atomic Weapons Establishment, in Tadley, Hampshire, but the plans have been held up while a decision to include a bunker on site is considered.


Arming all police with Tasers has come a step closer as 8,000 more ­officers are issued with the stun guns. Forty-one of the 43 forces in England and Wales will share £6.5 million to buy them. It means 25,000 out of 123,000 cops—one in five—will be armed.


Insurance profits go up when the poor die young

Life insurance and pension firm Legal & General has, in the last year, raked in around £155 million worth of extra profit from people not living as long as they were expected to.

The firm are paying out less in pensions as a result.

Nigel Wilson, Legal & General’s boss, told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme that people were “not living as long as we expected them to, and we’ve taken a release as a consequence of that”.

He added, “People are going on about the coronavirus, but actually the bigger problem we are having at a societal level is that lots of poorer people are not living as long as we expect.

“Life expectancy in some of the poorer areas is 58, the life expectancy of the richer areas is 85”.

Across all its operations, the firm saw its operating profit rise 17 percent to £2.5 billion in the last year.


Fascist says he is a victim and wants to sue the cops

The judicial inquiry into undercover police who had “abusive and manipulative” relationships with women to infiltrate left wing groups has taken an odd turn.

Roberto Fiore, a Italian fascist, wants the inquiry to consider him a “victim” of terrorism orchestrated by Scotland Yard. The Nazi is aggrieved that an undercover officer allegedly tried to persuade two anti-fascist activists to ?rebomb a property he owned.

Carlo Sorrachi, an undercover cop, using the alias “Carlo Neri”, will face questions from a barrister representing a woman he deceived for two years. Hearings are set to begin in June.

Fiore fled to London in 1980 to avoid questioning by Italian police over a bombing in Bologna that killed 85 people.

He escaped extradition amid claims that he was working for M16 to spy on British far right groups.


Cop arrested for Nazi terror links

The arrest of a serving Metropolitan Police officer relates to the outlawed neo-Nazi group National Action.

Counter-terrorism officers arrested the 21-year-old police constable in north London.

The officer, who works in frontline policing in London, was arrested on Thursday of last week has been bailed for a hearing later this month.

Home Office figures showed that 117 white people were arrested on suspicion of terror offences in 2019, compared with 111 Asian suspects and 21 black suspects.


She’ll’s oily tokenism

In time for International Women’s Day Shell became She’ll.

The She’ll logo is being featured at a petrol station in the US “run by a duo of female entrepreneurs, who are part of the executive leadership team”

As the inevitable press release put it. “By adding an apostrophe to its name, Shell is showing small gestures can motivate and deliver big messages. The She’ll logo transformation is part of Shell’s new initiative—She Will

“A She Will video featuring some of Shell’s female employees and the company’s dedication to creating a gender-balanced workplace.”


Peer pressure for equality

Also for International Women’s Day an aristocratic peer whose family title dates back to the 15th century called for the law to change to allow daughters to inherit peerages as well as sons.

Charles Chetwynd-Talbot, the 22nd Earl Of Shrewsbury, pressed for change to end the “imbalance of the genders” in the ancient system.

The elder child of the 67 year old earl, who has previously opposed any reform of the House of Lords, is his daughter, Lady Victoria Chetwynd-Talbot.


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Tatler magazine’s advice during the coronavirus

‘Traitor!’

A resident of Bewdley heckles prime minister Boris Johnson when he turned up after the flood waters had gone

‘The key question we have to answer now is what are we for?’

Liberal Democrat leadership hopeful Layla Moran

‘I knew the woke brigade would come for the Wombles!’

Piers Morgan is upset that the latest version of The Wombles may have Wombles of colour

‘We have been talking to the supermarkets for some time’

At the time he claimed this the supermarkets all said neither health secretary Matt Hancock nor his representatives had been in touch


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