Former Taxpayers’ Alliance boss handed taxpayer-funded job by Priti Patel

Leading critic of ‘unnecessary’ PR jobs takes up spin doctor role at Home Office

Adam Forrest
Thursday 12 August 2021 13:51

Related video: Priti Patel in profile

The former head of the right-wing campaign group which campaigns for lower government spending has been given a top government job working alongside home secretary Priti Patel.

Jonathan Isaby, the former chief executive of the Taxpayers’ Alliance, announced on Wednesday he is now Ms Patel’s communications chief at the Home Office, despite having criticised government spending on communications staff in the past.

A 2015 TaxPayers’ Alliance report condemned “the emergence of a growing class of ‘spin-doctors’”, adding that “their remit goes beyond the basic requirements of government communication”.

The Brexiteer – who has repeatedly railed against “wasteful” government spending, including on “unnecessary” PR jobs in the NHS – said he was “excited” to take up the new civil service role.

“Delighted to share that this week I have taken up a job in the civil service as communications private secretary to home secretary Priti Patel in her private office at the Home Office,” Mr Isaby tweeted. “Excited to get started in the new role.”

Mr Isaby has spent the past few years as editor of the pro-Brexit news website, BrexitCentral, which described its mission as “promoting a positive vision of Britain after Brexit”.

In 2020, he announced the closure of the BrexitCentral website which had aimed to counter “the doom and negativity of those who remain unwilling to accept the referendum result”.

His appointment comes as Ms Patel has received fierce condemnation over a recent pay freeze for police officers.

The home secretary confirmed last month that officers earning more than £24,000 would be hit by the freeze, while those earning less will be given an annual rise of £250.

The Police Federation – the body representing rank-and-file officers – said its national council had “overwhelmingly supported” a vote of no confidence in Ms Patel at an extraordinary meeting at the end of July.

Meanwhile, eyebrows have been raised at the money spent on recent Home Office immigration measures, after the government agreed to give French authorities an extra £54m last month to try to tackle small boat crossings.

Labour’s shadow home secretary Nick Thomas-Symonds said: “Time and time again, the government has announced arrangements with France using taxpayers’ money but the numbers keep increasing.”

Ms Patel has also been slammed recently over a mass deportation flight to Jamaica, which left the UK on Wednesday with just seven “foreign criminals” on board after 43 others were granted a last-minute legal reprieve.

Campaigners had been trying to halt the flight amid ongoing concerns over the Windrush scandal – with claims that some detainees came to the UK as children and have the right to British citizenship.

On Thursday, the home secretary tweeted: “I make absolutely no apology for taking action to remove foreign criminals – keeping the public safe from the likes of murderers, rapists and child sexual abusers. The Borders Bill will make it easier for the UK to remove them.”

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