David Cameron is to broker talks between the British and Chinese governments in a new role leading a £750m government-backed investment fund.
The Advisory Committee on Business Appointments (ACOBA) has waived its usual stipulation effectively placing a two-year ban on former ministers liaising with the Government as part of new jobs taken up after leaving office.
Instead Mr Cameron will be allowed to “facilitate dialogue with the UK and Chinese governments … at the invitation of the UK Government.”
Yesterday it was confirmed that the former prime minister will become vice chairman of UK-China Fund, a new private equity fund, after being approached for the role by Lord Chadlington, a friend and former Tory donor.
The announcement came as the Treasury separately said around £1.4 billion worth of commercial deals had been agreed as part of a trip to China by the Chancellor and business leaders.
Mr Cameron’s fund is a private sector initiative that does not involve any taxpayer money – but has been backed by ministers on the basis it provides support for UK-China relations.
Unusually, ACOBA drew attention to the fact “the fund will be domiciled in the Republic of Ireland”, but added that the way it is structured and taxed “is not within the scope of this committee”.
Mr Cameron had said he would receive “no tax advantage” from the arrangement.”
The fund will help British and Chinese businesses in sectors such as technology, healthcare and infrastructure, expand into each others’ countries.
Mr Cameron’s role will include identifying businesses that could benefit from advice, and setting up talks between the UK and Chinese governments – although ACOBA’s advice still prevents him from lobbying.
He is expected to spend two to three days a month on work for the fund. A spokesman for Mr Cameron said he remained “very proud of his work as Prime Minister launching the ‘Golden Era’ between the UK and China with President Xi.”
In 2015 Mr Cameron and President Xi were pictured drinking beer together at a pub near Chequers, the prime minister’s country home in Buckinghamshire.
In 2013, George Osborne, Mr Cameron’s Chancellor, announced that the government was giving the go-ahead to Chinese companies to take a stake in “the development of the next generation of British nuclear power” – leading to a deal on the Hinckley Point plant.
He later invited Chinese investors to bid for contracts to build HS2, the high-speed rail line.