Former British Chancellor Philip Hammond has been banned by a government watchdog from discussing his role during Brexit negotiations with his new Irish employer, the Telegraph reported on Sunday.
Following Hammond's appointment to the board of Dublin-based packaging company, Ardagh Group in November on a £125,000 annual package, the Advisory Committee on Business Appointments (Acoba) claimed in a letter that Hammond previous role as chancellor means that “there is a risk it could be perceived your network and influence might assist Ardagh Group unfairly”.
Acoba urged the 63-year old former Chancellor to “avoid giving Ardagh privileged insight into the Brexit-related issues” including the “negotiating strategy of the UK government deriving from his time as the senior official negotiator".
They also cautioned Mr Hammond against providing insights into the government’s negotiating position with the European Union during his tenure in the leading government role.
In the letter from Acoba, the group informed Hammond that it would be "inappropriate" to utilise the contacts he made while in government during his new role.
Mr Hammond responded with his own letter saying that he attained the new position as Argachs non-executive director “through an 'acquaintance after leaving office”. He said he had no official dealings with the company as Chancellor.
Treasury officials raised no concerns about his appointment, saying Mr Hammond “did not make any decisions specific to Ardagh” during his time in high office.
While speaking to the BBC earlier this week regarding his life after politics Mr Hammond said: "Well, I haven't been to the job centre yet, I haven't found that I am lacking in things to do and I've got lots of people suggesting useful and practical things that I could be doing with my time”.
According to the Telegraph, when asked if Mr Hammond’s history involved in the Brexit process and at the treasury influenced their decision to offer him the role, an Ardagh Group spokesman said:
“Philip Hammond’s appointment to the Board of Ardagh reflects his extensive domestic UK and international experience, covering both the public and private sectors".
“The Group is delighted to have secured someone of Mr. Hammond’s calibre and looks forward to his positive contribution across our global business".
As a large supplier of alcohol within Europe, Ardagh is likely to impacted by any changes in alcohol duty and currently maintains nine plants throughout the United Kingdom and employs up to 2,500 people.
The company has issued warnings indicative of the economic uncertainty for foreign firms in the UK.
In the organisations latest annual report released in February 2019, the company warned: “Any changes to the trading relationship between the United Kingdom and the European Union may adversely affect the cost or timing of imports".
“Because of the extent of our business in the United Kingdom, the precise impact of Brexit is difficult to predict and may include effects beyond those described herein, which could have a material adverse impact on our financial condition and results of operations".
Philip Hammond served as Chancellor of the Exchequer from July 2016 to July 2019 under Theresa May. Following the ascension of Boris Johnson as Prime Minister, he opposed the government and attempted to block a no deal Brexit.
In November 2019 he announced he was quitting as an MP and would not be contesting the next general election.