Few talking heads have appeared on broadcast media more regularly of late than Chloe Wesley, now alleged to be campaign manager for the so-called Taxpayers’ Alliance. Whether it is BBC Question Time, any paper review session, or indeed any other politics offering, there she is, dispensing the customary Government-demonising wisdom so beloved of those who pass through the door of 55 Tufton Street.
Sadly, though, the public is becoming wise to the TPA and the rest of the alphabet soup of Astroturf lobby groups from SW1, and increasingly, the response to Ms Westley’s social media outpourings is one simple question - “who funds you”.
To this, she engages in characteristic dishonesty by telling those enquiring that there are “thousands” of small donations making up the TPA’s funding. This is complete drivel. We don’t get to know who funds such groups, or even whether the money comes only from the UK. But what we do know is that Ms Westley has her own little local difficulty right now.
That is the combination of her employment status, and the visa covering her stay in this country. Although she chides those who mention that she is not British, this is actually highly relevant: she is, by her own admission, in the UK on what is called a Tier 5 visa.
And the rules for a Tier 5 visa state that the holder cannot (a) take a permanent job, or (b) get public funds. So, TPA people, what is a “Campaign Manager”, if not a permanent job? Moreover, Ms Westley worked during the EU referendum campaign for Vote Leave, which was in receipt of around £650,000 of public funds. And it gets worse.
Ms Westley admitted she was on a T5 visa back in 2016, in an interview given her by then Tory London Mayoral hopeful Zac Goldsmith, who asked “Is that the visa you’re on?” to which she replied “Yes. So in 2019, if I’m not earning £35,000, I may be sent home” (for those who claim the TPA is “non-partisan”, that interview describes her as “Australian Times contributor and Conservative Party activist Chloe Westley”).
Then there is the sponsorship question. Marie-Anne Pollaud observed “Went on Chloe Westley's linkedin and boy is it a journey … she's had SEVEN nondescript right-wing libertarian gigs in as little as three years … her most notable and job-worthy experience was as a copywriting intern at Hays”. The T5 visa rules state “You need to have a certificate of sponsorship from a licensed sponsor before you can apply to come to the UK to work”. So who’s the sponsor? Curiouser and curiouser.
When Ms Westley snipes at former BBC man Gavin Esler “Hi @gavinesler - thanks for calling me a rising star in the @TheNewEuropean! Just wondering why you are so bothered about my nationality? Am I the wrong kind of immigrant, in your eyes?”, her nationality is not a trivial issue. And nor is the matter of whether she is “the wrong kind of immigrant”. Indeed, hers is the kind of case the Home Office should be investigating.
After all, if all those ghastly mainland Europeans, migrants from across Africa, and those coming here from the Middle East and Indian sub-continent are expected to play by the immigration rules, then so should everyone else. It’s only fair, after all.
And the TPA is all about fairness, isn’t it? I’ll just leave that one there.
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