The most powerful couple in British politics – who you’ve never heard of

I’m usually in favour of cock-up rather than conspiracy but I’ve discovered that there is a power couple in British politics of whom few of us have heard. They have never been elected, but they are all too highly effective lobbyists.

Matthew Elliott is fairly well-known as the founder of the TaxPayers’ Alliance and the chief executive of the Vote Leave campaign, his wife Sarah Elliott as chairwoman of Republicans Overseas UK, less so. In fact many, I suspect, will, like me, not even have realised they are related.

Collectively, the network aims to use Brexit as an opportunity to slash regulations in the UK, paving the way for a wide-ranging USUK free-trade deal” – indeed Liam Fox has been pictured at one of the Republican Overseas drinks parties.

Yet this article from which the quotation comes, is on the investigative fossil fuel website ‘Desmog’ which is primarily concerned with the Elliott’s joint desires to free fossil fuels from regulation after Brexit. But, of even more interest to me is that there are links to the less government, less regulation, far right, Koch Brothers, as shown in their graphic below.


Together, the Elliott husband and wife team connect the Leave campaign and groups pushing for a libertarian, free-market ideology from offices in Westminster’s Tufton Street, to major US ‘libertarian’ (so-called) lobbyists and, it now seems clear, United States FUNDING.

They provide an insidious link between the US and the UK  – insidious because while money talks very much more loudly in America, in the UK funding is entirely hidden.

The Institute for Economic Affairs, Taxpayer’s Alliance, Civitas, Big Brother Watch, and The Global Warming Foundation are all based at the same address and they style themselves as ‘think tanks’, yet their thinking is usually evidence free – just look at this!

It begins to become clear why these outfits never say who funds them.

The answer ‘the Koch Brothers’ would be toxic – and it is.



Note: since writing this I have also discovered that the right wing neoliberal think tank network is truly international. In 1981, Sir Anthony Fisher founded ‘Atlas’ in the USA, having already set up in London, in 1955, the Institute of Economic Affairs (IEA). The mission of Atlas would be to “to litter the world with free-market think tanks”. There are now around four hundred in more than 70 countries. There is even more detail in this thread here, of which James O’Brien rightly says, “This (very long) thread is breathtaking in its scope and detail, [and] terrifying in its implications for our democracy”.


  1. Bill Hughes -

    If only 1% of lorries coming through Dover are checked then smuggling (both goods and people) will be rife!

  2. A. Pessimist -

    The Desmog article is hair-raising. What does this imply for the future of our “Democracy”? I’ve always been aware that the bulk of the newspapers follow an agenda not necessarily motivated by the best interests of the majority of the population, fairly unsurprising when they are owned by foreign billionaires. There does seem to have been a more recent tendency of the BBC and other broadcast media to follow the agenda set by those newspapers. The influence of far-right US money through think tanks yet further damages any remaining faith in the system. Even more to the point is that Facts Central Twitter thread you link to, which appears to show the clear intent to influence the referendum vote (and success in doing so!). But I’m getting confused! The MSM is more likely to be seen fingering Mr Putin for interfering in our elections. How do the Russians fit in with all of this? Are they just bit-players, watching, and stirring a bit of extra mischief? Or even a smoke screen?

  3. Peter May -

    I would have thought it likely that Russia would be not averse to encouraging a certain amount of chaos among NATO members. I doubt their intnetions are much more. The right wing neoliberal think tanks are about trying to change the way we think. And pointing the finger at Mr Putin does that intnetion no harm either.

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