Open Europe Blog

The most visited Wikipedia page from Brussels IP addresses today will be Lord Hill’s – the UK’s European Commissioner nominee. Lord Hill is currently the leader of the House of Lords.

We have previously argued that David Cameron should “send forth to Brussels the best he has.” The reason is simple: reform is fundamental to the UK’s EU membership so the UK should put forward its best candidate to secure one of the ‘big jobs’ in the Juncker Commission and maximise the chances of negotiating success on all levels.

In 2009 Gordon Brown made a serious mistake in coming late to the game and sending a little known Peer, Cathy Ashton (also leader of the House of Lords incidentally) and ended up with a job that nobody else wanted. Have the lessons been learnt? Well, Cameron certainly hasn’t sent the guy with the highest profile, instead prioritising avoiding a by-election, but it’s too early to tell whether Lord Hill will sink or swim. He could turn out great.

But who is Lord Hill?

Well he’s certainly not a household name but has been in the Cabinet albeit as a Lord. Here is his biography:

  • Conservative Research Department 1985-86 
  • Special advisor to Rt Hon Kenneth Clarke at Department of Employment 
  • DTI and Department of Health 1986-89 
  • Lowe Bell Communications 1989-91 
  • No 10 Policy Unit 1991-92 
  • Political secretary to Prime Minister John Major 1992-94 
  • Senior consultant Bell Pottinger Communications 1994-98 
  • Director Quiller Consultants 1998-2010; (a part of Huntsworth Plc) 
  • Under-secretary of state Department for Education 2010-13 
  • Leader of the House of Lords and Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster 2013-2014

Beyond that it is reportedly that he unsuccessfully attempted to resign as a minister in 2012, and recently ruled himself out as a candidate for European Commissioner, saying when asked

“Non, non, non. First, I don’t believe I’m going to be asked. Secondly, I like it here. I quite like it at home, in the British Isles.”

That’s not the first time a politician has said something similar and ended up in that very position, though. Lord Hill is definitely well connected in the PR industry and knows the Conservative party. He knows the political system and the art of political public relations. Plenty of people say he’s a ‘fixer’ who can work the corridors in Brussels – something which Cathy Ashton wasn’t able to (partly because of her job which involved long absences from Brussels). It’s too early to jump to conclusions.

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