The City of London Corporation has boosted its presence in Brussels with the appointment of former U.K. Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Jeremy Browne, a Liberal Democrat. His title from September 1 will be “Special Representative for the City.”
Browne was one of 49 Liberal Democrats to lose their seat at the last general election, with a swing against him of 16.8 per cent, allowing the Conservative candidate in his constituency of Taunton Deane to romp to victory with a majority of nearly 15,500.
But while many of his former colleagues may be eyeing the current MP’s pay rise of 10 percent enviously, Browne is quids in – his new salary of £200,000 will be more than twice the current salary for backbench MPs.
For that princely sum, Browne will be expected to travel across Europe, meeting with EU leaders to promote London as an economic powerhouse. He will be supported in his efforts by at least one new member of staff, at a cost of £50,000, and will have at his disposal a further £250,000 for office costs and expenses, bringing the grand total spend by the City of London to half a million pounds.
A document on the appointment dated June 23 concludes that this is money well spent, however, thanks to the ongoing turbulence across the EU project and the threat it poses to the City of London.
“In the context of a UK referendum on EU membership, the Commission’s Investment Plan the development of an EU Capital Markets Union, and the need to enhance the UK’s engagement with EU institutions and Member States generally, an independent review of the work of the COIB has concluded that it is necessary to enhance both the level and the volume of work [done by the Brussels office],” the document concludes.
Jeremy Browne once wrote: “I want to see more empowered citizens, rather than passive receivers of centralised state services,” which bodes well for the City’s attempts to keep the Brussels apparatchiks at bay.
However, he also believes that the EU project has been good for Britain, writing in a different article: “Britain has been a member of the European Union since the 1970s and we have benefited from closer cooperation. We should also remember that the union is one of the greatest successful demonstrations of the expansion of democracy and liberal values in history.”
It remains to be seen, therefore, whether the City of London will get good value for money with this appointment.