Nick Clegg hails 'exciting new adventure' as he lands plum Facebook job

Posted On: 
19th October 2018

Sir Nick Clegg has hailed an "exciting new adventure" as he takes up a plum job on Facebook's top team.

Mr Clegg is expected to relocate to California early next year
PA Images

In a move which left Westminster stunned and provoked a furious reaction from Labour, the former Deputy Prime Minister has announced that he will lead the firm’s lobbying operations as head of its global affairs and communications team.

Sir Nick said he had taken the top role after speaking with the website’s founder Mark Zuckerberg - who he insisted had recognised the “new responsibilities” which Facebook had to society.

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The move comes during a period of increased turmoil for the tech giant, which has been forced to grapple with major data breaches, rows over the proliferation of 'fake news' and growing fury about their tax arrangements.

Just hours earlier, Damian Collins, who chairs the Commons Digital, Culture, Media and Sport committee called for the UK’s competition watchdog to investigate the firm over claims it had misled advertisers by knowingly inflating viewing figures for videos hosted on the site.

The former Liberal Democrat leader said in his announcement that the social media giant was “at the head of some of the most complex and difficult questions we face as a society.”

He added: “Throughout my public life I have relished grappling with difficult and controversial issue and seeking to communicate them to others. I hope to use some of those skills in my new role."

The staunch Remainer said it would be “a wrench” to be leaving the public debate on Brexit, but said that he felt he could have little impact on the outcome since he was no longer an MP.

“The key decisions will soon pass to Parliament, of which I am no longer a Member, and once I had decided to take up this unique new challenge at Facebook, I felt it was best to get going sooner rather than later.”

But the announcement has been slammed by Labour, which branded it the latest example of the "revolving door" between Westminster and Silicon Valley.

Shadow Cabinet Office minister Jon Trickett said: “It is a damning indictment of the sorry state of our country’s politics that, at a time when digital giants such as Facebook are rightly coming under public scrutiny, our former Deputy Prime Minister has been hired to lobby on their behalf.

He added: “The Labour party is committed to slamming the shut revolving door between politics and big business, which for too long has corroded public trust in politics.”

Shadow Culture Secretary Tom Watson meanwhile told PoliticsHome: “I look forward to meeting Nick Clegg in his new role as we have serious concerns about Facebook’s lack of democratic accountability. He will know our concerns about data privacy, taxation and transparency.

"He will also be acutely aware that there are very serious questions about the role the company played during the EU referendum that the DCMS Select Committee still require answers to.”

The appointment could also prove embarrassing for Mr Clegg's party, coming just months after Liberal Democrat leader Sir Vince Cable called for the big tech firms to be broken up.

Sir Vince's proposal would see competition authorities forcing Facebook to sell off messaging app Whatsapp and social media site Instagram before allowing it to operate in the EU.

The Lib Dem leader said in April: “Data is the raw material which drives these firms and it is control of data which gives them an advantage over competitors.

“These companies have acquired their pivotal position by providing a service or platform through which data can be extracted, collected and used.”

The Liberal Democrats have been approached for comment.