Sir Nick Clegg, pictured on Wednesday, will be joining Facebook as a PR executive after being recruited by Mark Zuckerberg to help him lobby in the EU and the US
Sir Nick Clegg has been hired by Mark Zuckerberg to head up Facebook’s global lobbying team after ‘months of wooing’ by the social network’s founder, it was revealed today.
The billionaire has asked Britain’s former Deputy Prime Minister to take over from PR chief Elliot Schrage, who quit in June after a series of damaging scandals.
Sir Nick, 51, will be paid to lobby decision-makers in Europe and the US where Facebook faces probes over its tax affairs and privacy scandals including the Cambridge Analytica scandal where developers harvested data from millions of accounts.
Previously he was highly critical of the company’s paltry tax bills and said the social media giant clearly wasn’t paying ‘all the tax they could’ in Britain.
‘I’m not especially bedazzled by Facebook. I actually find the messianic Californian new-worldy-touchy-feely culture of Facebook a little grating,’ he said two years ago.
‘Nor am I sure that companies such as Facebook really pay all the tax they could — though that’s as much the fault of governments who still haven’t got their tax act together.’
Yet he appears to have overcome these concerns and today announced that he will be moving to Silicon Valley with his wife Miriam and their three children by the new year.
He is expected to earn millions in pay and also be given lucrative share options.
The former Liberal Democrat MP, who lost his Sheffield Hallam seat to Labour last year, will also end his personal campaign for a second EU referendum, which saw him join forces with Tony Blair and Sir John Major and flying across Europe meeting its political leaders.
In a statement on his Facebook Page, Sir Nick said leaving before Brexit would be ‘a wrench’ but the move, likely to earn him millions of dollars, was ‘an exciting new adventure’.
Mark Zuckerberg is said to have pursued the former MP for months as he battles scandals in the US and EU
Sir Nick and his Spanish wife Miriam will be heading to Silicon Valley in the coming months with their three children
Sir Nick Clegg: Former Lib Dem MP accused of wrecking his party
Sir Nick Clegg was knighted for DC escort services to politics this year but more than 50,000 people signed a petition to have the honour reversed, branding Mr Clegg a ‘failed politician’.
The father-of-three, whose son Antonio recently fought blood cancer, is married to Spanish city lawyer Miriam Gonzalez Durantez
The arch Remainer was among a number of Lib Dems showered with honours in recent years, with knighthoods for Vince Cable and Ed Davey, who both lost their seats in 2015 after serving in the Cabinet.
Mr Clegg held on but lost the Sheffield Hallam seat he held for 12 years in June 2017. He has called for a second referendum and written a book called How To Stop Brexit.
In his book on Brexit, Mr Clegg wrote: ‘There is nothing remotely inevitable about Brexit – except that it will be deeply damaging if it happens.’
He said there should be a second vote because the people who voted Leave were dying off.
Mr Clegg entered the Commons in 2005 after years working in Brussels. He took up a post with the European Commission in 1994 and five years later he was elected as a Liberal Democrat MEP in the European Parliament.
After swapping Brussels for Westminster, he won the race to become party leader in 2007 by beating Chris Huhne after Menzies Campbell was persuaded to step down.
Three years later he rode a wave of so-called ‘Cleggmania’ that briefly saw his party top the polls during the 2010 election campaign.
Although the results did not match this early success, he became a power broker during coalition talks, eventually siding with the Tories and allowing David Cameron to enter No 10.
In return, Mr Clegg was handed the position of deputy prime minister and brought the first Liberal MPs into government for decades. However, his party’s poll ratings began to plummet after he was forced to renege on a major pledge not to increase tuition fees.
And he suffered the humiliation of losing a referendum on changing the voting system to a form of proportional representation.
After the party’s 2015 election disaster, Mr Clegg resigned as leader and returned to the backbenches.
A year later, following the EU referendum, he became the party’s Brexit spokesman but then lost his seat.
In Europe the former MEP will lobby Eurocrats who are pushing for a new tech tax by next year and who are also promising more punishing fines for high-profile data breaches like the Cambrdige Analytica scandal.
Last week, the business revealed new platform tools it says will increase transparency of political advertising as it faces investigations over the role of the adverts in elections around the world
It is also facing a potential £1.2 billion fine for a data breach that allowed hackers to access the personal information of 30 million users.
The Irish Data Protection Commission (IDPC), the lead supervising authority for Facebook in the EU, officially opened its investigation last week after the social media giant admitted hackers could have accessed the accounts of millions of users through a “vulnerability” on September 28.
In America the company faces upcoming midterms where it must fight Russian interference and it still faces investigation in by the Federal Trade Commission and the Security Exchange Commission.
Mr CLegg may also help Mr Zuckerberg with his public speaking after he spent two awkward days stammering his way through Senate hearings this year.
Critics have today slammed the former MP’s new job as a ‘damning indictment’ of the revolving door between politics and big business.
Sir Nick is the most senior politician from Europe to work for Facebook.
Explaining his decision he said: ‘Facebook, WhatsApp, Messenger, Oculus and Instagram are at the heart of so many people’s everyday lives – but also at the heart of some of the most complex and difficult questions we face as a society: the privacy of the individual; the integrity of our democratic process; the tensions between local cultures and the global internet; the balance between free speech and prohibited content; the power and concerns around artificial intelligence; and the well-being of our children.
‘I believe that Facebook must continue to play a role in finding answers to those questions – not by acting alone in Silicon Valley, but by working with people, organisations, governments and regulators around the world to ensure that technology is a force for good.
‘I am looking forward to being part of this endeavour.’
Critics have today slammed his new job as a ‘damning indictment’ of the revolving door between politics and big business.
Jon Trickett MP, Labour’s Shadow Minister for the Cabinet Office 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.
‘Labour is committed to slamming shut the revolving door between politics and big business, which for too long has corroded public trust in politics.’
Mr Clegg released a long statement explaining why he was moving to Facebook and the ‘wrench’ of quitting the second referendum campaign
He will start working for Facebook‘s global affairs and communications team in London in the coming weeks after Mr Zuckerberg looked to him for help with its ailing reputation.
Facebook has been rocked by scandal after scandal and Mark Zuckerberk is looking to Nick Clegg for help
Sir Nick, his Spanish wife Miriam, a partner at law firm Dechert, and their children will then move to California.
The social network has been rocked recent data scandals where millions of accounts were compromised.
Mark Zuckerberg had to give a number of humbling apologies this year and it is understood he personally pursued Sir Nick for the job.
Before his career in politics the ex-Mp worked in Brussels and the Facebook billionaire believes he can build bridges with the EU.
He will also work on data protection issues – which Facebook has faced lots of in recent times – and more regulation across the globe.
In a statement on his Facebook Page, Sir Nick said the move was ‘an exciting new adventure’ and leaving before Brexit would be ‘a wrench’.
The company is already facing tough questions over its treatment of customers.
Mr Zuckerberg, one of the richest and most powerful men in the world, has faced a barrage of criticism over Facebook’s privacy policies.
The ex-Mp will be working at Facebook’s HQ in Menlo Park, California, from the new year
Under his stewardship Facebook has been accused of allowing Russians to interfere in the US election and spread ‘fake news’.
Leaving Britain before Brexit is a ‘wrench’ – but I’m excited to jon Facebook, says Nick Clegg
Here is Nick Clegg’s statement in full:
I am delighted to be joining Facebook. After almost twenty years in European and British politics, this is an exciting new adventure for me.
Having spoken at length to Mark and Sheryl over the last few months, I have been struck by their recognition that the company is on a journey which brings new responsibilities not only to the users of Facebook’s apps but to society at large. I hope I will be able to play a role in helping to navigate that journey.
Facebook, WhatsApp, Messenger, Oculus and Instagram are at the heart of so many people’s everyday lives – but also at the heart of some of the most complex and difficult questions we face as a society: the privacy of the individual; the integrity of our democratic process; the tensions between local cultures and the global internet; the balance between free speech and prohibited content; the power and concerns around artificial intelligence; and the wellbeing of our children.
I believe that Facebook must continue to play a role in finding answers to those questions – not by acting alone in Silicon Valley, but by working with people, organizations, governments and regulators around the world to ensure that technology is a force for good.
I am looking forward to being part of this endeavour. Throughout my public life I have relished grappling with difficult and controversial issues and seeking to communicate them to others. I hope to use some of those skills in my new role.
As someone who has spent a lifetime arguing for Britain’s wholehearted commitment to Europe, it is of course a wrench to be leaving the public debate at a crucial time in the Brexit process. But 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.
Miriam and I have been so grateful for the warm welcome extended to us by everyone we have met at Menlo Park. Moving to California is a new beginning for us – and for our three sons – which we are looking forward to with great excitement and anticipation.
Earlier this year it emerged that the personal information of 87million Facebook users had been harvested by Cambridge Analytica, a data company that used the information to help Donald Trump win the US presidency.
Mr Zuckerberg was dragged before Congress to testify about its privacy policies in April.
Awkward and at times evasive, the once time Silicon Valley darling spent two days stammering his way through the hearings.
He was ridiculed online for everything from this clammy appearance to ill-fitting suit, and was even caught using a booster seat to make himself look taller than his 5ft 7in.
The UK’s information commissioner’s office has said it intends to fine Facebook about £500,000 over what happened – the maximum penalty.
A Congressional investigation then found that agents from Russia and other countries had been posting fake political adverts on Facebook since at least 2016.
Last month the social media giant admitted that a security flaw in its systems had allowed criminals to break in and effectively take control of millions more profiles.
The hack potentially gave the cyber-attackers access to vast amounts of personal data, including people’s addresses, email accounts and even bank details.
They may also have been able to access intimate family photographs, along with details of users’ personal lives, friends and hobbies. All of this information would potentially be a goldmine for fraudsters. It is one of the biggest cyber-hacks ever recorded.
A group of major Facebook investors have even called for Mr Zuckerberg to be ousted as chairman after the business lurched from crisis to crisis.
The backlash comes after the tech giant’s billionaire founder, who is also chief executive, was put on the back foot by a series of security and privacy scandals which have subjected the company to intense public scrutiny over its use of user data.
Those behind the proposal to remove Zuckerberg and make the role of chairman an independent position, include New York City’s pension fund and Trillium Asset Management.
Scott Stringer, manager of the £122bn New York fund, said: ‘An independent chair is essential to moving forward from this mess.’