DesSmog UK: Appointing the experts

17 July 2020 — DesSmogUK

  Who would you call if you were to set up a group to maintain “animal welfare and environmental standards” in post-Brexit trade deals?

Someone who knew about and enjoyed protecting environmental standards, perhaps? Maybe someone who knew about and liked animal welfare?

Or you could call some people who have for years been lobbying the UK to drop environmental regulations as a way to get favourable conditions in trade deals with some of the world’s largest polluters. Naturally, this is the route the UK government decided to take.

In setting up its new Trade and Agriculture Commission, the Department for International Trade appointed two lobbyists from the Institute of Economic Affairs (IEA) to offer thier “expert” advice. Yes, the same IEA that was in 2018 caught in a “cash-for-access” scandal offering a supposed US agribusiness representative “intimate” access to UK ministers in return for funding.

Oddly, neither of their affiliations to the thinktank are currently listed. Shanker Singham, their International Trade and Competition Fellow, quietly had his changed to that of his private consultancy shortly after his appointment was announced.

Less oddly, International Trade Secretary Liz Truss, who the commission will advise, has close ties to the IEA, having founded the “Free Enterprise Group” of MPs, which is administered by the IEA and has been described as its “parliamentary wing”. Truss also held undisclosed meetings with Singham and IEA Director General Mark Littlewood in 2018 while Chief Secretary to the Treasury.

Perhaps the appointments aren’t so strange, after all.

Read our full report on the Commission’s appointments here.

As always, we love feedback on our newsletter. If you have anything to say, please email

Support DeSmog: Become a Patron today!

  DeSmog exists to hold the powerful to account on their climate pledges. If you think that’s important too, then please support us.

We are determined to keep DeSmog free to access. But we are independent, meaning we don’t take advertising money and we don’t have corporate donors.


So we rely on the support of you, our dear readers, to continue our work. If you can, please donate today!


Government Appoints Lobbyists with US Agribusiness Ties to Trade and Agriculture Commission

  A commission set up to advise the government on maintaining “animal welfare and environmental standards” in post-Brexit trade deals includes two leading figures from a pro-deregulation thinktank known to offer “intimate” access to UK ministers for US agribusinesses.

Shanker Singham and Sir Lockwood Smith from the libertarian Institute of Economic Affairs have been named members of the commission. Read more…

UK Offered £760m of Support to Overseas Fossil Fuel Projects Last Year

  The UK has provided up to £760 million worth of financial support for “climate-wrecking” fossil fuel projects around the world in the past year, compared with six schemes related to renewable energy, according to analysis by the campaign group Global Witness.

Data published by the government’s export credit agency at the end of June show the Department for International Trade helped to finance a total of 51 oil and gas projects. Read more…

Investigation: The Problem with Big Oil’s ‘Forest Fever’

  Elon Musk, Greta Thunberg, Rishi Sunak, Donald Trump — trees suddenly have an eclectic mix of fans, all drawn to the apparent simplicity of their carbon-locking power. Now Big Oil has joined the party, in a big way.

Over the past year, BP, Total, Eni, Equinor and ConocoPhillips have invested millions of dollars in forest projects to offset their greenhouse gas emissions. Shell, in particular, has taken a lead, promising to spend $300 million on “natural ecosystems” as part of its market-leading net-zero emissions plan. Read more…

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.