Leon Brittan

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Revolving Door.jpg This article is part of the Revolving Door project of Spinwatch.

Lord Leon Brittan, former EU Trade Commissioner, became a consultant on World Trade Organisation issues at the law firm Herbert Smith, vice-chairman of the investment bank UBS Warburg and advisory director at Unilever just a year after leaving the European Commission in 1999.


Brittan became Vice-Chairman of the investment bank UBS Warburg just three months after quitting as Trade Commissioner,[1] and joined the London-based international law consultancy Herbert Smith on 1st January 2000, as part-time consultant on World Trade Organisation (WTO) issues.[2] A few months later he was appointed Advisory Director at Unilever.[3]

Lord Brittan took over the LOTIS Chairmanship from his long-standing ally Andrew Buxton. The working relationship of the two men dates from the days when Buxton (then Chairman of Barclays Bank) was lobbying Commissioner Brittan on behalf of the Financial Leaders Group (FLG) during the GATT Uruguay Round and during negotiation of the WTO Financial Services Agreement. Brittan, in fact, encouraged the establishment of the FLG as a way of promoting the interests of the financial services sector.[4]

He has said that he "appreciated the input of the FLG in the run-up to and during the final stages of the WTO agreement on financial services in 1997. All this demonstrates how important it is for companies to be involved at the most senior level."[5] In 1998, Brittan invited Buxton to set up the European Services Network (later renamed European Services Forum (ESF)) and the European Services Leaders Group (ESLG), a high profile pressure group modelled on the Financial Leaders Group, consisting of some 40 Chief Executive Officers from across the European services industry.[6][7]

He also played a key role in the formation of the Trans Atlantic Business Dialogue (TABD) in 1995 which enables the CEOs of US and European companies to present a unified and powerful front to trade negotiators. As EC Vice President, Brittan met regularly with TABD.[8]

Revolving door

An investigation by the Wall Street Journal into outside business interests held by members of the House of Lords noted that Brittan had declared he was vice chairman of UBS Investment Bank and a member of the international advisory committee of Total. In September 2014, shortly after the Journal spoke to Brittan, both roles were removed from his parliamentary profile.[9][10]




  1. UBS Investment Bank,"Sir Leon Brittan to join Warburg Dillon Read as Vice Chairman", UBS Warburg press release, 01 October 1999.
  2. Herbert Smith, "Sir Leon Brittan to join Herbert Smith as a consultant," Herbert Smith press release, 19 October 1999.
  3. Unilever, "Unilever announces three new directors", Unilever press release, 22 February 2000.
  4. Beder, Sharon, Suiting Themselves: How Corporations Drive the Global Agenda, Earthscan, London, 2006, p. 140.
  5. IFSL, "Lord Brittan of Spennithorne, Liberalising World Trade: Why Business Must Make Its Voice Heard", IFSL World, Edition 1, Spring 2001, Web Archive 22 April 2001, accessed 06 March 2010.
  6. CEO, "GATS: GATS: Undermining Public Services Worldwide", Corporate Europe Observer - Issue 9, May 2000, accessed 06 March 2010.
  7. CEO, "Revolving Doors: Former Trade Commissioner Now Lobbies for Services Industry", Corporate Europe Observer - Issue 8, accessed 06 March 2010.
  8. Beder, Sharon, Suiting Themselves: How Corporations Drive the Global Agenda, Earthscan, London, 2006, p. 140.
  9. House of Lords Wall Street Journal, accessed 18 December 2014
  10. Lords interest amendments Parliament.UK, accessed 18 December 2014
  11. Sarah Priddy, PIL: Current Members Related to Other Current or Former Members - Commons Library Standard Note, 13 September 2013.