Ousted Oxford MP to be awarded peerage

Nicola Blackwood has worked for the lobbying firm Global Counsel since losing her seat

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The former MP for Oxford West and Abingdon, Nicola Blackwood, is to be granted a peerage and a return to government, according to the Mail on Sunday.

Nicola Blackwood served as a Minister in the Department of Health before losing her seat to Liberal Democrat Layla Moran in the 2017 election, and has since been working as a senior advisor for healthcare projects at the lobbying firm Global Counsel.

The Mail on Sunday reports that Ms. Blackwood is expected to return to her role as a Minister in the Department of Health and Social Care after the Christmas recess, despite losing her parliamentary seat 18 months ago.

Nicola Blackwood’s Global Counsel page highlights her “background in political office” and “experience from the health sector”, noting that she works for the firm on “policy areas related to technology and healthcare.”

Last February Ms. Blackwood was cleared by Parliament’s anti-corruption watchdog, the Advisory Committee on Business Appointments, to take jobs in the private sector on the condition that her employers would not unfairly benefit from her time in office.

Ms. Blackwood subsequently took paid roles at Policy, a firm which helps private sector companies get contracts in public services, and Eagle Genomics, a biotechnology consultant. She is also on the board of directors of the lobbying group Campaign for Science and Engineering.

Global Counsel serves a number of companies in the private sector with political interests, such as energy giant Centrica, which successfully lobbied for the government to ease restrictions on fracking.

The director of Spinwatch, a group which campaigns for transparency in lobbying, David Miller told Cherwell: “This is the latest in a long line of revolving door appointments involving public servants who go on to work for private clients in the lobbying world. There is no effective regulation of this and it is simply unacceptable for lobbyists to be appointed as government ministers in this way.

“Reforms are needed to the registration and regulation of lobbyists to make such issues clearer, and we need to abolish the totally inadequate system via [the Advisory Committee on Business Appointments] and introduce much stricter rules on the revolving door and conflicts of interest in order to protect the public interest in such matters.”

Global Counsel’s chairman is Peter Mandelson, who served as a minister under Tony Blair before losing his seat and subsequently returning to government as a peer.

Ms. Blackwood and the Oxfordshire Conservatives have been contacted for comment.

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