City would shun a rebel Lamont, say headhunters

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NORMAN LAMONT will lose the chance of a top City job with a six-figure salary if he attacks John Major and Kenneth Clarke from the back benches, headhunters have warned.

The message from City recruitment consultants is that the recently departed Chancellor can expect to be snapped up by a big European bank as a non-executive or even exectuive director. But he would put such a job in jeopardy if he started attacking government policy.

'It all depends on what he wants to do,' said David Seddon, head of recruitment services at the accountants Coopers & Lybrand. 'If he wants to go back to his roots (Mr Lamont was, until 1979, a director of the merchant bank NM Rothschild) he has to be careful about his conduct in the next few months.'

Another recruitment expert agreed. 'The great selling point of a former Chancellor is his connections into the Treasury and government. Bitter speeches and virtiolic memoirs would spoil all of this.'

Mr Lamont is believed to be thinking of writing his memoirs, but it remains to be seen whether they would have the same impact as those of Lord Lawson or the selling power of those of Baroness Thatcher.

The signs are that Mr Lamont may find some doors closed to him. Some leading merchant banks have already decided that he will not follow in the footsteps of former cabinet ministers who went to high-profile City jobs, such as Sir John Nott, who went to Lazard Bros; Lord Lawson, who joined Barclays de Zoete Wedd; and Francis Maude, who recently moved from Salomon Brothers to Morgan Stanley.

It is understood that neither Schroder nor SG Warburg wishes to offer Mr Lamont a job. While NM Rothschild declined to comment, an insider said enthusiasm for having the former fund manager back in the fold was 'lukewarm'.

Mr Seddon believes that, despite Mr Lamont's well-known relief at leaving the European exchange rate mechanism, the ideal berth for him would be at a large European bank such as Banque Paribas, Swiss Bank Corporation or Dresdner Bank. 'His contacts in international banking and background in merchant banking would make him much in demand,' he said.

Mr Lamont's sacking has heralded the replacement of some of his key political advisers with Mr Clarke's appointees from the Home Office. Once Mr Clarke has settled in, there is also expected to be a reshuffle of career Treasury officials, as Mr Lamont's private office is disbanded.

Bill Robinson, who was recruited from the Institute for Fiscal Studies to become the Chancellor's special economic adviser, is to depart. Rupert Darwall, who arrived three months ago, is also expected to leave. Mr Clarke is bringing in Tessa Keswick, who has been his political adviser in his last three departments. She is married to Henry Keswick, of the Hong Kong trading group Jardine Matheson.

Jeremy Heywood, Mr Lamont's principal private secretary, is expected to be moved elsewhere in the Treasury after Mr Clarke has settled in. The post is prized among thirtysomething Treasury officials as one of the department's most powerful jobs.

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