Matthew Elliott

Matthew Elliott

Credentials

  • BSc in Government, London School of Economics (2000) [1]
  • Fellow, Royal Society of Arts [2]

Background

Matthew Elliott is the founder and former chief executive of the TaxPayers' Alliance, a British think tank which campaigns for a low tax society. Elliot founded the group in 2004 with his wife Florence Heath, a former petroleum geologist. [3], [4], [5]

Matthew Elliot sits at the nexus of a group of “hard Brexit” campaigners closely linked to the UK’s climate science deniers and other anti-regulation think tanks. [6]

Elliott was the chief executive of Vote Leave, the official campaign group pushing for Brexit ahead of the 2016 EU Referendum. The group was responsible for the false and misleading campaign message: “Give our NHS the £350 million the EU takes every week”. Elliott also founded the pro-Brexit organization, Business for Britain, from which Vote Leave emerged. [3], [7], [8]

A year after the EU referendum, Elliott was hired as Senior Political Adviser to Shore Capital, a Guernsey-based investment bank founded by outspoken Brexiteer, Howard Shore, with a view to providing guidance on the implications of Brexit. Shore donated a total of £50,000 to Elliott's Vote Leave campaign and has given the Conservative Party over £442,000 since 2011, according to Electoral Commission records. [35], [36], [37]

Elliott was credited with trying to replicate the U.S. Libertarian Tea Party movement in Britain. His other affiliations include being on the advisory board of the right-wing think tank The New Culture Forum and the leading Eurosceptic think tank The European Foundation, where he began his career as a press officer in 2000. [9], [10], [11], [12]

Elliott also founded the civil liberties and privacy pressure group Big Brother Watch, as well as the Politics and Economics Research Trust (PERT), a charity focused on issues of public taxation. In 2017, he was forced to repay a £50,000 grant from PERT which he had used to produce an anti-EU report, following an investigation by the Charity Commission. [13], [14]

The majority of these organisations have, or have had, offices at 55 Tufton Street, Westminster. The address was also initially home to Vote Leave and currently houses the leading UK climate sceptic group the Global Warming Policy Foundation. [15]

Elliott was a senior fellow at the Legatum Institute for a year following the EU referendum, during which he says he aimed to “understand the wider international context to the Brexit vote.” [16]

Elliott was also a partner at technology firm Awareness Analytics Partners (A2P) who describe themselves as “experts in understanding and utilizing influence, enhancing online messaging and delivering groundbreaking social media advertising results.” A2P says: “We map the networks of your most engaged audience members and then micro-target your ads to the people most likely to take your desired action.” The firm says it has a database of 115 million social profiles which it uses to identify “networks and people” who share particular attitudes and attributes. [17]

Awareness Analytics Partners, through its founding partner Sean Noble, has ties to the Koch-funded network of think tanks and charitable foundations promoting free market economic policies and climate science denial. A 2014 investigation by ProPublica found that Noble had been employed as a consultant by the Koch brothers to distribute political donations to conservative causes in the 2010 and 2012 US elections. [17], [33]

Stance on Climate Change

Elliott has criticised government interventions to tackle climate change and protect the environment. Combined with his Eurosceptic views, he has accused the EU of using climate change as an opportunity for a “power-grab” and overstepping its authority in setting environmental regulations. [18]

Elliott has spoken at events organised by the now defunct All Party Parliamentary Group on Unconventional Oil and Gas, which was used by fracking and fossil fuel companies to gain access to and filter money into parliament. [19], [20]

Key Quotes

2017

In a speech to the Mackinac Center for Public Policy, Elliott said: 

I have been coming to the US now for over 14 years to learn how to do my campaign techniques, and how to set up a taxpayer group from Grover Norquist at Americans for Tax Reform.” [21]

2010

Speaking to the Guardian:

You could say our time has come […] We need to learn from our European colleagues and the Tea Party movement in the US […] It will be fascinating to see whether it will transfer to the UK. Will there be the same sort of uprising?” [22]

2009

In his 2009 book The Great European Rip-off: How the Corrupt, Wasteful EU is Taking Control of Our Lives, co-authored with David Craig, Elliott wrote: [18]

The prominence given by politicians to the threat of global warming has allowed the [European] Commission to make a huge power-grab.

There seemed to be no limit to the price our masters were willing for the rest of us to pay so they could save the planet from our shameful energy profligacy.” [18]

September 2007

In an interview with the BBC, he said:

I am not convinced that higher taxes are the answer. For example, something like the climate change levy, I have a concern in the way that it has impacted companies in the north of England. It has driven manufacturing jobs overseas to other countries that aren’t as stringent as we are in terms of cutting back CO2 emissions. I think the stick approach isn’t the right approach. I think we should look more at the cash approach, look to giving tax incentives to encourage companies to act in more green ways.” [23]

Key Deeds

April 30, 2019

Elliott was announced as a speaker at the Australian Taxpayers' Alliance seventh annual “Friedman Conference,” in conjunction with the World Taxpayers' Association 17th Biennial Conference, set to take place in Sydney, May 23-27. Other speakers listed include Grover Norquist of the Koch-funded anti-tax group, Americans for Tax Reform. [34]

October 2017

Prime Minister Theresa May was reported to be lining up Elliott for a senior government position to lead the overhaul of the Conservative Party “in a move that would bolster the hard Brexit-backing Tory wing,” The Independent wrote. [24]

May 2017

Elliott gave a speech to the Mackinac Center for Public Policy, in which he said he had learnt his campaigning techniques during visits to the United States, and has singled out time spent with Americans for Tax Reform and Grover Norquist as influential in helping him learn his campaigning techniques. [21], [25]

December 2015

Former energy and climate secretary Ed Davey wrote a letter to Elliott, then the head of the Vote Leave campaign. In the letter, Davey said the group will be guilty of attempting to take the UK “to the fringes of the international community” unless it distances itself from UKIP and the former chancellor Nigel Lawson. [26]

November 2010

The U.S. Tea Party and the TaxPayers’ Alliance, under Elliott’s leadership, held a joint event in London to “galvanise anti-government sentiment,” The Telegraph reported. At the time, Elliott praised the movement. [9]

2009

Elliott co-authored a book with David Haig entitled The Great European Rip-off: How the Corrupt, Wasteful EU is Taking Control of Our Lives in which he was critical of the EU's push for climate regulation. [18]

June 2007

In a blogpost at Conservative Home, Matthew Elliott wrote that he was currently in the United States to learn more about a campaign by Grover Norquist at Americans for Tax Reform “to commit candidates for federal and state office to oppose all tax increases.” [27]

Elliott added:

Green taxes are not taxes on ‘bads’ as they are sold by political parties and the media. The amount of money raised by fuel duty alone is, even under very ‘green’ assumptions, enough to cover the externalities of Britain’s entire CO2 emissions. Green taxes are revenue raising measures designed to extract more money from ordinary families and British businesses which, as you rightly say, affect the poor more. In regional terms the North is hit incredibly hard by the Climate Change Levy. I’d love to give you some more details and statistics on this issue but they are going to be in a research paper we’ll be releasing soon.” [27]

Affiliations

Social Media

Publications

Resources

  1. LSE Economics Alumni Group - In Conversation with Matthew Elliott,” LSE Alumni. Archived .pdf on file at DeSmog.

  2. Matthew Elliott,” Penguin Books. Archived December 10, 2018. Archive.fo URL: http://archive.fo/u5BQR

  3. Matthew Elliott,” Brexit Central. Archived December 7, 2018. Archived .pdf on file at DeSmog.

  4. About the TaxPayers’ Alliance,” The TaxPayers’ Alliance. Archived December 10, 2018. Archived .pdf on file at DeSmog.

  5. Robert Booth. “Who is behind the Taxpayers' Alliance?,” The Guardian, October 9 2009. Archived December 10, 2018. Archive.fo URL: http://archive.fo/kvryU

  6. Chloe Farand, Mat Hope. “Matthew and Sarah Elliott: How a UK Power Couple Links US Libertarians and Fossil Fuel Lobbyists to Brexit,” DeSmog UK, November 18, 2018.

  7. Nicole Morley. “Here’s how spectacularly wrong the Brexit bus £350million lie was,” Metro, April 27, 2017. Archived December 10, 2018. Archive.fo URL: http://archive.fo/II9Rj

  8. Matthew Elliott. “How Business for Britain helped change the course of history in three short years,” Brexit Central, September 27, 2018. Archived December 10, 2018. Archived .pdf on file at DeSmog.

  9. Andrew Hough. “TaxPayers' Alliance seeks advice from Tea Party movement leaders,” The Telegraph, September 10, 2010. Archived December 10, 2018. Archive.fo URL: http://archive.fo/oQ3HW

  10. Matthew Elliott,” ConservativeHome. Archived December 7, 2018. Archive.fo URL: http://archive.fo/LrcbH

  11. About,” European Foundation. Archived December 7, 2018. Archive.fo URL: http://archive.fo/reW2J

  12. Vote Leave 'architect' Matthew Elliott to speak at CIPR AGM,” CIPR, May 24, 2017. Archived December 10, 2018. Archive.fo URL: http://archive.fo/mVDpq

  13. George Eaton. “Vote Leave head Matthew Elliott: “The Brexiteers won the battle but we could lose the war”,” New Statesman, September 5, 2018. Archived December 10, 2018. Archived .pdf on file at DeSmog

  14. Robert Booth. “Vote Leave chief repays charitable grant used to fund anti-EU dossier,” The Guardian, February 9, 2017. Archived December 10, 2018. Archive.fo URL: http://archive.fo/WmmjU

  15. Tom Bawden. “The address where Eurosceptics and climate change sceptics rub shoulders,” The Independent, February 10, 2016. Archived December 7, 2018. Archive.fo URL: http://archive.fo/PSL5U

  16. Matthew Elliott. “Matthew Elliott says farewell to the Legatum Institute,” Legatum Institute, Friday 11 May, 2018. Archived December 10, 2018. Archive.fo URL: http://archive.fo/T3f5B

  17. Meet the team,” A2Partners. Archived January 10, 2018. Archived .pdf on file at DeSmog.

  18. David Craig, Matthew Elliott. “The Great European Rip-off: How the Corrupt, Wasteful EU is Taking Control of Our Lives,” Random House, 2009. Archived screenshot on file at DeSmog.

  19. OESG launch success,” Onshore Energy Services Group. Archived December 10, 2018. Archive.fo URL: http://archive.fo/p6PzF

  20. Mat Hope. “Mapped: How Fracking Lobbyists From the UK and America Have Infiltrated Parliament,” DeSmog UK, January 26, 2017.

  21. The Brains Behind Brexit,” YouTube video uploaded by user “Mackinac Center” on June 2, 2017.

  22. A very British Tea Party: US anti-tax activists advise UK counterparts,” The Guardian, September 9, 2010. Archived December 10, 2018. Archive.fo URL: http://archive.fo/1lb4K

  23. Ben Tyson, D. Mercedes Hurd. “Social Marketing Environmental Issues,” iUniverse, 2009. Archived screenshot on file at DeSmog.

  24. Rob Merrick. “Theresa May lines up head of Vote Leave campaign behind £350m NHS claim to lead overhaul of Conservative Party,” The Independent, October 26, 2017. Archived December 10, 2018. Archive.fo URL: http://archive.fo/mhm93

  25. Matthew Elliott: The Brains Behind Brexit,” May 5, 2017. Archived December 10, 2018. Archive.fo URL: http://archive.fo/3gCng

  26. Nicholas Watt. “Anti-EU campaigners aligning with climate sceptics, says ex-minister,” The Guardian, December 7, 2015. Archived December 10, 2018. Archive.fo URL: http://archive.fo/fyqKO

  27. Matthew Elliott answers your questions,” ConservativeHome, June 2007. Archived December 10, 2018. Archived .pdf on file at DeSmog.

  28. Matthew Elliott,” ConservativeHome. Archived December 7, 2018. Archive.fo URL: http://archive.fo/LrcbH

  29. George Eaton. “Vote Leave head Matthew Elliott: “The Brexiteers won the battle but we could lose the war”,” New Statesman, September 5, 2018. Archived December 10, 2018. Archived .pdf on file at DeSmog

  30. Robert Booth. “Vote Leave chief repays charitable grant used to fund anti-EU dossier,” The Guardian, February 9, 2017. Archived December 10, 2018. Archive.fo URL: http://archive.fo/WmmjU

  31. Matthew Elliott. “Matthew Elliott says farewell to the Legatum Institute,” Legatum Institute, Friday 11 May, 2018. Archived December 10, 2018. Archive.fo URL: http://archive.fo/T3f5B

  32. Matthew Elliott,” Penguin Books. Archived December 10, 2018. Archive.fo URL: http://archive.fo/u5BQR

  33. Kim Barker, Theodoric Meyer. “The Dark Money Man: How Sean Noble Moved the Kochs’ Cash into Politics and Made Millions,” ProPublica, February 14, 2014. Archived December 19, 2018. Archive.fo URL: http://archive.fo/S05Ns

  34. Andrew Bolt. “FREEDOM CONFERENCE - BOOK WHILE IT'S ALLOWED,” Herald Sun, April 30, 2019. Archived April 30, 2019. Archived .pdf on file at DeSmog.

  35. Harry Wilson. “Brexit lobbyist Matthew Elliott joins Shore Capital,” The Times, June 2, 2017. Archived June 12, 2019. Archive.fo URL: http://archive.fo/UXqrf

  36. Howard Shore,” The Telegraph. Archived June 12, 2019. Archive.fo URLhttp://archive.fo/XepEB

  37. Shore Capital,” The Electoral Commission. Archived June 12, 2019. Archived .pdf on file at DeSmog.

Photo: The TaxPayers' Alliance via Flickr | CC.20