There won’t be much of a welcome on these shores from former political colleagues of Sir Nick Clegg when he partially relocates from Silicon Valley to London in the autumn. The official explanation is that he wants to see more of his elderly parents, but it’s also about overseeing Meta’s operations in Europe and Asia.
A close associate of Sir Ed Davey – the current Lib Dem leader who served under Clegg during the coalition years – admits to me the timing is unfortunate. Clegg has apparently agreed with the party not to do domestic TV programmes like Newsnight because he accepts the last thing the Lib Dems need is for people to be reminded of him as the cost of living crisis hits hard. Meta – formerly Facebook – has awarded him a stock bonus worth $12.3m per year over and above his basic salary estimated in the high-six or low-seven figures.
The antagonism to Clegg within the Lib Dems runs deep. Mark Leftly, the former spokesman for Clegg’s successor Sir Vince Cable as leader of the Lib Dems, is quoted in a piece in Fortune magazine as saying “some people in the party now see him very differently, seemingly driven more by money than they had hoped.”
The Fortune piece concludes with the words: “Clegg’s time in government was characterised by great expectations that ended in bitter disappointment. It’s not clear his time at Meta will turn out any better.”