Labour leadership contender's lobbying career raises Labour eyebrows

The Times has run a front page story examining Labour leadership challenger Owen Smith's previous career as a lobbyist for Pfizer.

Yesterday, Smith emerged as the candidate who will take on Jeremy Corbyn for the Labour leadership when fellow contender Angela Eagle pulled out after failing to secure the support of more than 72 MPs and MEPs, compared with Smith’s 90.

The Times wrote that the MP's past "as the £80,000-a-year head of government affairs" for Pfizer had drawn criticism from Corbyn’s allies.

The story also claimed that Smith had supported expanded private sector involvement in the NHS during his time at Pfizer.

It quoted one unnamed Corbyn ally, who said: "Bring on the Blair-lite candidate. Our members won’t be fooled by a TV-savvy turncoat who lobbied for big pharma and Tony Blair."

Smith worked for Pfizer for nearly four years, until 2008, after which he became head of corporate affairs for biotech firm Amgen, and then MP for Pontypridd in 2010.

Mark Glover, chairman of the APPC, said: "Lobbying is a vital conduit between government and business, without which neither side properly understands the needs and objectives of the other. The APPC enforces the highest standards in the lobbying industry and there is nothing to suggest that Mr Smith didn’t meet those high standards."

The deadline to pay £25 to register to vote in the forthcoming Labour leadership election expires at 5pm today and 50,000 people are thought to have signed up since registration opened on Monday. The new leader will be announced on 24 September, and Corbyn is widely expected to win.

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