Under-fire PM assembles new slate of business chiefs as advisors

The bosses of some of Britain’s biggest companies have been invited to advise Boris Johnson amid suggestions that some executives are taking a more cautious approach to an affiliation with the embattled prime minister.

Sky News has learnt that Downing Street has issued invitations to corporate chiefs in recent days about holding regular meetings on the economy with Mr Johnson in 2022.

Significantly, the invitations described the initiative as a joint one with Rishi Sunak, the chancellor, which some business leaders suggested might be an attempt by Number 10 officials to make membership of the new committee more palatable.

Image: Shell boss Ben van Beurden is among those who have been sounded out

Among those sounded out about joining the new council are Ben van Beurden, the Shell chief executive; Dawid Konotey-Ahulu, the founder of Redington, a pensions and insurance advisory firm; and Anita Frew, the Rolls-Royce chair.

Representatives from Aviva, Hiscox, Scottish Power and Starling Bank are also understood to have been approached, a Whitehall source said on Monday.


The invitations were issued with Mr Johnson’s premiership in crisis amid serious doubts over his future.

One private sector executive said there was serious consideration about whether they would accept an approach to advise the PM given the nature of his current difficulties.

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A new line-up of business advisers would replace the Build Back Better Council (BBBC) launched a year ago, and which included the chief executives of companies such as BP, British Airways and BT Group.

It met for the final time last month, with some members expressing private scepticism about the value of the engagements with Mr Johnson.

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Is PM losing Tory support?

One source suggested a small number of members of the BBBC could be retained on the new council.

Mr Johnson’s relationship with the business community during his tenure as PM has been volatile, with a speech to the CBI’s annual conference late last year ridiculed after he repeatedly lost his way.

Downing Street has been contacted for comment.