Report: David Cameron Encouraged Boris to Drop London's Uber Regulations

By Libby Watson on at

Remember David Cameron, the failed PM who slunk away from public life last year amid the chaos of Brexit? The man who will be remembered for being, among other things, the utter git who reportedly decided to hold the Brexit vote in a Chicago airport pizza restaurant? Well, he’s in the news again: The Financial Times reports that he encouraged the Boris to drop proposed regulations against Uber while the latter was still mayor of London.

According to the Times, in 2015, Cameron and then-chancellor George Osborne had “conversations,” primarily in the form of text messages, with then-London mayor. The chats apparently concerned measures introduced by Johnson that would have shored up the taxi industry’s fight against Uber; Cameron and Osborne allegedly encouraged Johnson to, uh, rethink the proposals. In 2016, some rules were indeed dropped; one rule would have seen Uber customers wait five minutes between requesting a ride and beginning a journey. (Others, including imposing English language tests on both Uber drivers and regular cab drivers, survived.)

The kicker, as the Times suggests, is that Cameron’s reported advocacy on behalf of Uber is even more suspect given his close ties to the company. His former strategy chief, Steve Hilton, is married to Rachel Whetstone, who does communications and public policy for Uber. Whetstone was hired at Uber in May 2015; the reported texts from Cameron were sent in late 2015, according to the Times.

The Times quotes an unnamed City Hall official who said that the alleged conversations included “making arguments about free markets and competition.” (Sounds riveting!) News of the texts was first reported by the Daily Mail, who filed a Freedom of Information request for the communications.

When asked about Cameron’s involvement, an Uber spokesperson wouldn’t say much, and instead sent Gizmodo a statement criticising the rules Cameron supposedly argued against. A request for comment to 10 Downing Street wasn’t immediately returned, but we’ll update if we hear back. [Financial Times]