Foundation for Independence

Foundation for Independence

Background

The Foundation for Independence (FFI) is a pro-Brexit business pressure group launched in March 2020. [1]

The FFI seeks to highlight “the benefits of leaving the EU and regaining our independence,” and to advocate for a “full free trade deal with the EU that still ensures we take back control of our laws, borders, money and trade.” [2]

The group aims to “counter the continuing machinations of the ‘rejoin’ lobby and rebut the ever relentless campaign of project fear.” The FFI also plans to run an Independent Business Network (IBN) which it says will provide a “voice” for pro-Brexit member businesses, as an alternative to what it calls the “relentlessly negative attitude of the CBI and similar groups”. [1]

The FFI was set up and is chaired by former Director General of the British Chambers of Commerce, John Longworth, who was suspended from his role in 2016 after breaching neutrality rules by making comments supportive of Brexit. [3], [4]

Longworth was chair of the pro-“hard Brexit” pressure group, Leave Means Leave, which he founded after the EU referendum with property developer and subsequently Brexit Party Chair, Richard Tice. [3], [5]

Other prominent figures at the FFI include Labour MP Graham Stringer, former Brexit Party MEP Lance Forman, former UKIP Deputy Chairman and Vote Leave Board Director Suzanne Evans, and former Business for Britain Board Member and Honorary Treasurer Daniel Hodson. [3][6], [7]

Stringer has previously dismissed much climate science as “shoddy” and said it should be regarded with scepticism. He is also a Trustee of the Global Warming Policy Foundation, the UK’s principal climate science denial group based at 55 Tufton Street in Westminster. [8], [9]

Former Brexit Party MEP Lance Forman has made numerous claims disputing man-made global warming, calling climate change “a myth,” and climate science “unreliable.” Both the Brexit Party and UKIP have a history of climate science denial and have fielded numerous climate science denying candidates. [10][11], [12]

The FFI has said its Independent Business Network (IBN) will particularly represent businesses that are “family-run” and “pro-Brexit.” Writing for Global Vision a pro-Brexit news and comment site, FFI patron Lance Forman cited Lord Bamford, chairman of construction giant JCB and Conservative Party donor, and James Dyson, entrepreneur and inventor, as examples of the types of business voices the Network will seek to amplify. [1], [13]

Members of the IBN are currently unknown.

The FFI was registered with Companies House the same week as the pro-Brexit think tank, the Centre for Brexit Policy, of which Longworth is Chief Executive. [14], [15]

Stance on Climate Change

The FFI does not appear to have published any material on climate change, however, its Political Advisory Board member, Graham Stringer, and Patron, Lance Forman, have made numerous public statements denying the veracity of climate science or seriousness of climate change.

December 16, 2015

In an article for London paper, the “Newham Recorder,” responding to severe flooding in the Lake District in the winter of 2015, Forman wrote :

The fact is, that climate change belief or denial is no different to religion. The science (and please don’t accept the nonsense that 95 per cent of scientists believe in man-made climate change; the others are simply silenced otherwise they don’t get their academic grants) is simply based on a future projection of past evidence, but the evidence is so short in the history of our planet as to render it unreliable.

And if there is to be climate change, why focus on the negative? The drying up of the Dead Sea in recent decades has led to a partnership by former enemies, Jordan and Israel, to create a joint project to rehydrate it. Climate change in this situation has been a force for peace and for good.

Necessity is the mother of invention and the human race is the most resourceful of God’s creations.

Of course we will suffer from unexpected weather events as we always have done, but climate change, if there is such a thing, is a gradual phenomenon which we will learn to deal with as both we and it evolves.” [11]

September 14, 2017

Responding to an article in the Independent newspaper following his appointment to the House of Commons Science and Technology Committee, Graham Stringer, a Global Warming Policy Foundation Trustee and member of the FFI’s Political Advisory Board, said:

 “I am sceptical about everything – that is what scientists are. But there has been an enormous amount of shoddy work masquerading as science with regards to climate change.” [8]

Funding

The FFI encourages donations through its website. [16]

It also raises money through membership fees for its Independent Business Network. Membership of the Independent Business Network costs £100 per year, according to its website. [17]

Whether the Foundation for Independence receives other sources of funding is currently unknown.

Annual Reports

The Foundation for Independence is a private company limited by guarantee, incorporated on 2 March 2020. [18], [19]

Key People

Leadership

As of August 2020, the FFI’s leadership team consisted of:

John Longworth – Chairman. Longworth is a former Director General of the British Chambers of Commerce, having been suspended from the role in 2016 after making comments supportive of Brexit, breaching neutrality rules. After resigning he went on to co-found the Leave Means Leave pro-Brexit pressure group with Richard Tice, who later became chairman of the Brexit Party. Longworth is Chief Executive of the pro-hard Brexit think tank, the Centre for Brexit Policy, established the same week as the FFI. [4], [5], [15], [14]

John Mills – President. Mills is Chairman and Co-founder of the consumer goods company JML. He was a chair of Vote Leave in the 2016 referendum, and founder of Labour Leave. [3]

Daniel Hodson – Vice-Chairman and Co-Founder. Hodson was on the board of Business for Britain and served as Honorary Treasurer to the group. During the 2016 referendum he served as one of the Directors of Vote Leave. [3]

Brendan Chilton – Co-Founder and CEO. Chilton was the head of Labour Leave and has written for numerous Brexit-supporting platforms, including the online magazine Spiked. [3]

Tom Bohills – Vice-Chairman. Bohills is a lawyer and co-founder of the Alliance of British Entrepreneurs, a pro-hard Brexit business pressure group. Bohills has featured on the New Culture Forum’s YouTube channel, where he advocated for a No Deal and a “buccaneering, free-trading” future for the UK. [3], [20]

Advisory Board

Members of the FFI’s Political Advisory Board are:

  •        David Jones MP
  •        Suzanne Evans
  •        Graham Stringer MP
  •        Jim Sillars [7]

Patron of the Independent Business Network:

As of August 2020, the FFI’s IBN had one patron:

  • Lance Forman – Forman is Managing Director of Forman & Son, a luxury smoked salmon company, and was a Brexit Party MEP for the London constituency from May 2019 until December 2019 when he resigned in protest at what he called the Party’s “misguided” general election strategy. Forman previously worked as a Special Advisor to former Conservative MP Peter Lilley, one of three MPs to vote against the UK’s Climate Change Act in 2008. [6], [20], [12]

Actions

March 13, 2020

Writing on the ConservativeHome website to launch the FFI, Longworth said that there was a need for a “new pressure group” to ensure that “what people voted for” in the EU referendum was “delivered”. Longworth said that the Foundation would “counter the machinations of the ‘rejoin’ lobby” and rebut “the relentless campaign of project fear.”

He said the FFI’s Independent Business Network would “provide a home for a new voice for business” and counter the “relentlessly negative attitude” of the UK’s larger business groups, particularly the Chamber of British Industries (CBI). Business groups such as the CBI and Institute of Directors have been sidelined by the UK government under Boris Johnson for supporting close ties with the EU. The FFI’s launch was reported in The Express, The Telegraph and The Times. [1], [21], [22], [23], [14]

Related Organisations

  • Centre for Brexit Policy (CBP) – Foundation for Independence chair, John Longworth, is Chief Executive and Director of the Centre for Brexit Policy. Graham Stringer, who is a member of the FFI’s Advisory Board, is also a Director of the CBP. [15]
  • Vote Leave – Daniel Hodson was one of the Directors of Vote Leave at the same time that John Mills, now FFI president, was a Chair of Vote Leave. Conservative MP and member of the FFI’s political advisory board, David Jones, led the Welsh arm of the Vote Leave campaign. [3], [7]
  • Leave Means Leave – John Longworth was co-founder and Chairman of Leave Means Leave. [5]
  • Global Warming Policy Foundation (GWPF)FFI Political Advisory Board member, Graham Stringer, is a GWPF trustee. [7], [9]
  • Business for Britain – Daniel Hodson, co-founder and Vice-Chairman of the FFI, is a former board member and honorary treasurer of Business for Britain. [3]
  • Labour LeaveFFI president John Mills was a founder of Labour Leave while FFI CEO Brendan Chilton was the head of the campaign. [3]
  • The Brexit PartyFFI chair John Longworth and patron of the FFI’s IBN Lance Forman were both Brexit Party MEPs between May 2019 and December 2019, when they resigned in disapproval at the Party’s general election strategy. [20]
  • UKIP – Suzanne Evans, who sits on the FFI’s Political Advisory Board, was deputy chairman of UKIP between November 2016 and June 2017. [7]
  • Economists for Free Trade (EFT) – Foundation for Independence chair, John Longworth, is a member of the Advisory Board for the EFT. [3]
  • Institute of Economic AffairsFFI chair John Longworth is a member of the IEA’s Advisory Council[24]

Contact & Address

The Foundation for Independence is registered at the following address:

19 Luddenham Close

Ashford

Kent

TN23 5SE 

This was also the registered address for Labour Leave. [19], [25]

Social Media

Resources

  1. John Longworth: Introducing the Foundation for Independence, a new voice for pro-Brexit business,” Conservative Home. March 13, 2020. Archived August 14, 2020. Archive.fo URL: http://archive.fo/gFVZJOther Resources
     
  2. About,” Foundation for Independence. Archived August 14, 2020. Archive.fo URL: http://archive.fo/qNO2j
     
  3. Key People,” Foundation for Independence. Archived August 6, 2020. Archive.fo URL: http://archive.fo/wF9SC
     
  4. Samuel Osborne. “EU Referendum: BCC boss John Longworth ‘suspended over Brexit comments,” The Independent, March 5, 2016. Archived June 29, 2020. Archive.fo URL: http://archive.fo/FxsDz
     
  5. Asa Bennett. “Nigel Farage embroiled in defection row with Brexit Party stalwart John Longworth,” The Telegraph, November 5, 2019. Archived .pdf on file at DeSmog.
     
  6. IBN Patrons,” Foundation for Independence. Archived August 6, 2020. Archive.fo URL: http://archive.fo/iXjsS
     
  7. Political Advisory Board,” Foundation for Independence. Archived August 6, 2020. Archive.fo URL: http://archive.fo/wQo9l
     
  8. Tom Embury-Dennis. “MP appointed to Parliament’s science committee is part of climate change denial think tank,” The Independent. Archived 29 June 2020. Archive.fo URL: http://archive.fo/T7Hl6
     
  9. Board of Trustees,” Global Warming Policy Foundation. Archived October 30, 2019. Archive.fo URL: http://archive.fo/QMMrm
     
  10. Lance Forman. “I was being sarcastic.  Climate change is a myth. Political Climate change is the real danger.  PC will kill us all off before suntans,” Tweet by @LanceForman, January 25, 2018. Retrieved from Twitter.com. Archived .png on file at DeSmog.
     
  11. Forman & Son managing director Lance Forman doesn’t blame disaster on climate change,” Newham Recorder, December 16, 2015. Archived August 14, 2020. Archive.fo URL: http://archive.fo/NZzpJ
     
  12. Richard Collett-White, Chloe Farand and Mat Hope. Meet the Brexit Party’s Climate Science Deniers,” DeSmog, May 1, 2019.
     
  13. Lance Forman. “If Boris wants to help business: steer clear, fix the economic potholes and remove the speed bumps,” Global Vision, June 9, 2020. Archived August 14, 2020. Archive.fo URL: http://archive.fo/Ptrip
     
  14. Jill Treanor. “John Longworth’s Brexit Lobby PushThe Sunday Times, March 8, 2020. Archived pdf on file at DeSmog.
     
  15. Our Leadership,” The Centre for Brexit Policy. Archived June 30, 2020. Archive.fo URL: http://archive.fo/M2e9m
     
  16. Donate,” Foundation for Independence. Archived August 14, 2020. Archive.fo URL: http://archive.fo/zu1Ay
     
  17. Independent Business Network,Foundation for Independence. Archived August 14, 2020. Archive.fo URL: http://archive.fo/L9rwv
     
  18. Foundation for Independence Limited – Company No: 12493281 – Filing History,” Companies House. Archived August 14, 2020. Archive.fo URL: http://archive.fo/cXUKb
     
  19. Foundation for Independence Limited – Company No: 12493281 – Overview,” Companies House. Archived August 14, 2020. Archive.fo URL: http://archive.fo/WhIOS
     
  20. Ben Weich. “MEP Lance Forman quits Brexit Party and urges people to vote Conservative,” The Jewish Chronicle, December 5, 2019. Archived August 16, 2020. Archive.fo URL: http://archive.fo/dsZqe
     
  21. Oliver Wright. Boris Johnson snubs captains of industry over Brexit speech,” The Times, February 4, 2020. Archived .pdf on file at DeSmog.
     
  22. Brian McGleenon. “Finally! Pro-Brexit lobby group launched – ‘Too many business leaders NOT HEARD in UK,” The Express, March 8, 2020. Archived March 16, 2020. Archive.fo URL: http://archive.fo/0F5GE
     
  23. Edward Malnick. Pro-Brexit business lobby group launched after pro-remain CBI is sidelined by Boris Johnson,” The Telegraph, March 7, 2020. Archived August 16, 2020. Archived .pdf on file at DeSmog.
     
  24. Advisory Council,” Institute of Economic Affairs. Archived August 16, 2020. Archive.fo URL: http://archive.fo/WANfC
     
  25. Labour Leave Limited – Company No. 08444905,” Companies House. Archived August 24, 2020. Archive.fo URLhttp://archive.fo/GA9Ml

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