John Godfrey - A Young Economists' Dinner Discussion

Held on Wednesday, November 22

With support from Farrer & Co


  • John Godfrey (L&G)



Over the last few years, our little Young Economists group (notionally under 40, though we make exceptions) has welcomed a range of speakers from Nigel Farage to Luke Johnson – and, most recently, the BofE’s deputy Governor, Jon Cunliffe. But we haven’t actually had anyone who has been deeply involved with the process of government – particularly behind the Downing St. gates.

That can change. John Godfrey stepped down a couple of months ago as director of policy in Downing St, ie as head of the much-vaulted Downing St. think-tank – a position previously held by such luminaries as Camilla Cavendish, Jo Johnson, Geoff Mulgan, Andrew Adonis, David Miliband, Sarah Hogg and John Redwood. He was there just over a year, had a major hand in the Conservatives’ 2017 election manifesto, and quit in the aftermath of the disappointing result – returning to his previous role as corporate affairs director at Legal & General (where he works closely with the CEO, Nigel Wilson).

John’s career has straddled politics, Whitehall and the City. He cut his post-university teeth at the Home Office, moved to Lehman Bros. and thence to WestLB, before moving to L&G. He also fought two abortive Parliamentary seats in Scotland for the Tories – memorably incurring the wrath of the epicene Nicky Fairbairn, who did not like the cut of his jib. 

Others, fortunately, did – and I am delighted that he has agreed to share his impressions of life at the heart of the May government, the “mutual incomprehension” between business and politics, and how policy actually gets made in the Westminster sausage factory. His personal interests range from public expenditure and tax to the unexpectedly important role that the (notionally independent) OBR seems to be playing – and, of course, the dynamics of Downing St. in a pre-‘Brexit’ era.

All good stuff – particularly if any of you ever hanker after a life in the public eye. And (as befits a professional communicator) John is a most engaging fellow. Thanks to the generous hospitality of Farrer & Co, I can promise excellent food and drink.

Sincerely yours,

Andrew Hilton