Questions have been raised over the appointment of a lobbyist for the UAE-backed Libyan parliament to the position of Downing Street Chief of Staff. Britain’s new Prime Minister Liz Truss handed the job to Mark Fullbrook, who will be in charge of what is considered the most senior political appointee in the Office of the Prime Minister.
Fallbrook’s past lobbying on behalf of Libya’s House of Representatives was revealed by the Guardian on Monday as well as his lobbying of Number 10 on behalf of health companies that were awarded major contracts by the UK government during the COVID-19 pandemic. But it is the role played by the ally of former Prime Minister Boris Johnson on behalf of Libya’s illegitimate House of Representative (HoR) that has raised the most questions.
HoR has twice attempted to overthrow the UN-established Government of National Accord (GNA) in Tripoli. Installed in 2015, GNA unified rival administrations that came out of the country’s 2014 elections. It receives significant military aid from Turkiye, Italy, and Qatar.
GNA also has the backing of the UK. When Libya’s elections were postponed last year, the UK’s diplomatic mission in Libya published a message on its Twitter account saying it continued to recognise the interim government of national unity “as the authority tasked with leading Libya to elections and does not endorse the establishment of parallel governments or institutions”.
Opposing the western-based GNA is the HoR. Backed by Russia and the UAE, it refuses to recognise the GNA claiming that it was installed by the international community and allegedly supports Islamists. The HoR relocated to the eastern city of Tobruk. Forces allied to the HoR were given drones by the UAE while Russia has allegedly sent mercenaries.
On his website Fullbrook boasts that he has 25 years’ experience under his belt delivering success for commercial and political clients in Europe, the Middle East, Africa and across the Americas. Among his biggest clients is US Republican Newt Gingrich who once called for a “Sharia test” on Muslims and demanded that Muslims who believe in Islamic law be expelled from the US. It’s not clear if Gingrich was Fallbrook’s client when the former Speaker of the House made the anti-Muslim remarks.
Opposition MPs have asked Fallbrook to be transparent about his past role. Chris Bryant, Labour MP and chair of the standards committee, said Fullbrook should “come clean on all his financial interests and clients over the last year before he gets into Downing Street.”
A report in 2018 found that the UAE is “subverting” British democracy through its powerful lobbying. UK-based investigative agency Spinwatch obtained documents revealing the extent to which the wealthy royals of Abu Dhabi have influenced government decision-making in Britain and the USA. The same report accused the Emirates of fueling Islamophobia.