Labour looks to BP chief to boost Euro relations

Sir David Simon, BP chairman, is expected to accept Prime Minister Tony Blair's offer to become the new minister for Europe providing he can retain links with the oil giant.

Oil industry insiders believe Sir David, with his passion for Europe, will want to take advantage of this unique opportunity. But he may be reluctant to sever ties with the company with which he has been associated for most of his life. BP confirmed yesterday that Sir David had been approached. "He would very much like to be involved in shaping the UK's relationship with its European partners but he is also keen to continue as chairman of BP," the company said.

Sir David will spend the next few days considering the offer and will discuss it with Mr Blair in greater detail.

The possibility of Sir David taking an active role in shaping Labour Government policy on Europe was first mooted in private meetings some months ago but a formal approach was only made on Friday. The precise nature of the appointment and how it would work in practice remains unclear.

The approach is understood to have been made because of Sir David's European credentials rather than his political persuasion. Sir David is well known for his pro-European views and is a great believer in a fully intergrated and properly monitored and regulated single market. He would support European Monetary Union providing the circumstances were right.

He speaks most European languages fluently and his Gallic mannerisms reflect the upbringing by his stepfather, a French wartime fighter pilot who fought alongside Charles de Gaulle.

Sir David has developed important networks of business contacts both in Britain and in Europe. He has served on a number of European committees and working parties where he has earned the respect of his continental partners.

Although Sir David has no direct political experience, he is regarded by colleagues and competitors as an extremely astute political operator.

Industry observers point out that BP is one of the country's most political organisations, and Sir David's experience in rising to the top of that corporation provides the perfect grounding for a political career.

Sir David was appointed as BP's chief executive in 1992 following the contentious departure of his predecessor Bob Horton. He became chairman in July 1995.

Under his command, BP's standing has been transformed. The shares hit a low of 178p a few weeks after Sir David was appointed chief executive but have risen without interruption since, hitting an all-time high of 760p two months ago.

Suggested Topics
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Life and Style
Living for the moment: Julianne Moore playing Alzheimer’s sufferer Alice
Jay Z
businessJay-Z's bid for Spotify rival could be blocked
The spider makes its break for freedom
A propaganda video shows Isis forces near Tikrit
voicesAdam Walker: The Koran has violent passages, but it also has others that explicitly tells us how to interpret them
Ashley Young celebrates the winner for Manchester United against Newcastle
footballNewcastle v United player ratings
Arts and Entertainment
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

Ashdown Group: Graduate Application Support Analyst

£25000 - £30000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: A global leader operating...

Reach Volunteering: External Finance Trustee Needed!

Voluntary post, reasonable expenses reimbursed: Reach Volunteering: Would you ...

Christine McCleave: FP&A Analyst

£36,000 - £40,000: Christine McCleave: Are you looking for a new opportunity a...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Executive - OTE £40,000

£15000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a great opportunity for...

Day In a Page

War with Isis: Iraq's government fights to win back Tikrit from militants - but then what?

Baghdad fights to win back Tikrit from Isis – but then what?

Patrick Cockburn reports from Kirkuk on a conflict which sectarianism has made intractable
Living with Alzheimer's: What is it really like to be diagnosed with early-onset dementia?

What is it like to live with Alzheimer's?

Depicting early-onset Alzheimer's, the film 'Still Alice' had a profound effect on Joy Watson, who lives with the illness. She tells Kate Hilpern how she's coped with the diagnosis
The Internet of Things: Meet the British salesman who gave real-world items a virtual life

Setting in motion the Internet of Things

British salesman Kevin Ashton gave real-world items a virtual life
Election 2015: Latest polling reveals Tories and Labour on course to win the same number of seats - with the SNP holding the balance of power

Election 2015: A dead heat between Mr Bean and Dick Dastardly!

Lord Ashcroft reveals latest polling – and which character voters associate with each leader
Audiences queue up for 'true stories told live' as cult competition The Moth goes global

Cult competition The Moth goes global

The non-profit 'slam storytelling' competition was founded in 1997 by the novelist George Dawes Green and has seen Malcolm Gladwell, Salman Rushdie and Molly Ringwald all take their turn at the mic
Pakistani women come out fighting: A hard-hitting play focuses on female Muslim boxers

Pakistani women come out fighting

Hard-hitting new play 'No Guts, No Heart, No Glory' focuses on female Muslim boxers
Leonora Carrington transcended her stolid background to become an avant garde star

Surreal deal: Leonora Carrington

The artist transcended her stolid background to become an avant garde star
LGBT History Month: Pupils discuss topics from Sappho to same-sex marriage

Education: LGBT History Month

Pupils have been discussing topics from Sappho to same-sex marriage
11 best gel eyeliners

Go bold this season: 11 best gel eyeliners

Use an ink pot eyeliner to go bold on the eyes with this season's feline flicked winged liner
Cricket World Cup 2015: Tournament runs riot to make the event more hit than miss...

Cricket World Cup runs riot to make the event more hit than miss...

The tournament has reached its halfway mark and scores of 300 and amazing catches abound. One thing never changes, though – everyone loves beating England
Katarina Johnson-Thompson: Heptathlete ready to jump at first major title

Katarina Johnson-Thompson: Ready to jump at first major title

After her 2014 was ruined by injury, 21-year-old Briton is leading pentathlete going into this week’s European Indoors. Now she intends to turn form into gold
Syrian conflict is the world's first 'climate change war', say scientists, but it won't be the last one

Climate change key in Syrian conflict

And it will trigger more war in future
How I outwitted the Gestapo

How I outwitted the Gestapo

My life as a Jew in wartime Berlin
The nation's favourite animal revealed

The nation's favourite animal revealed

Women like cuddly creatures whilst men like creepy-crawlies
Is this the way to get young people to vote?

Getting young people to vote

From #VOTESELFISH to Bite the Ballot