General election: Boris Johnson hires fracking lobbyist to help draft Tory manifesto

Hiring of former Michael Gove adviser Rachel Wolf is 'outrage to democracy', Labour claims

Benjamin Kentish
Political Correspondent
Wednesday 30 October 2019 13:50 GMT
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Boris Johnson has hired a lobbyist who works for fracking companies to help write the Conservatives' general election manifesto, it has emerged.

Rachel Wolf, who lobbies ministers on behalf of shale gas company Cuadrilla and tech giants such as Amazon and Facebook, has been brought in by the Tories to help put together their policy offer for the 12 December poll.

The former adviser to Michael Gove will continue as a partner at Public First, a lobbying and communications firm that she founded with her husband, while working on the Tory campaign.

Labour said her involvement in the campaign was an "outrage to democracy" but Public First insisted that Ms Wolf's work for the Conservatives was "wholly separate" to her work for its clients.

The company's last entry on the lobbying register showed that its clients included Cuadrilla and the Internet Association, a trade body that represents tech giants including Amazon, Google, Facebook, Microsoft and Uber. It lobbies ministers on online regulation - an increasingly contentious issue and an area in which the next government is likely to have to take major decisions.

Ministers are currently consulting on setting up a new online regulator and a code of conduct for tech companies.

Public First also lobbies the government on fracking on behalf of Cuadrilla. The shale gas company faced public anger earlier this year after drilling at its site in Lancashire caused a series of tremors, including a 2.9-magnitude earthquake that damaged local homes.

Ms Wolf's work for the Tories was first revealed by The Guardian.

Jon Trickett, the shadow Cabinet Office minister, said: "If ever we needed another reminder that the Tory party represents the privileged few, this is it.

“It’s an outrage to democracy that the frackers, the tax dodgers and the zero-hour exploiters will have the biggest say when it comes to Tory policy.

“Labour is determined to win an election on a transformational platform for the many, and we will be a government that gives ordinary people a proper stake in how this country is run.”

A spokesperson for Public First said: “Public First has partners and staff who are members of all three major political parties and of none. Rachel is assisting the Conservative Party with their manifesto based on her long experience of working on Conservative policy. Her political work is wholly separate from any commercial arrangements our firm has.”

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