THE Chancellor has hired a senior member of a right-wing free-market think tank closely linked to the official Vote Leave campaign, The National has learned.

Nadhim Zahawi, who has held the position since the shock resignation of Rishi Sunak which triggered the collapse of Boris Johnson’s government, has appointed Duncan Simpson, a research director at the TaxPayers’ Alliance as a special adviser.

Prior to moving to the TaxPayers’ Alliance, Simpson worked as a parliamentary assistant to Douglas Carswell, the first ever MP to be elected as a member of Ukip.

The TaxPayers’ Alliance presents itself as a non-partisan mass membership organisation despite its links to Vote Leave and the Conservative Party hierarchy. 

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It has received donations in the past from major Tory donor Anthony Bamford, the chair of JCB, who recently hosted Johnson’s wedding party at his country estate.

Simpson, who joined the TaxPayers’ Alliance in 2017 as a policy analyst, was promoted to his most recent role in 2019.

According to the group’s website, he holds an MSc in International Relations from the University of Amsterdam and read PPE at the University of Manchester.

In 2018, he completed an MBA programme with the Atlas Network, a non-governmental organisation which funds libertarian and free-market advocacy groups around the world.

The TaxPayers’ Alliance admitted in 2018 to launching a smear campaign against a whistleblower who exposed overspending by the Vote Leave campaign.

The group admitted to coordinating a campaign to vilify Shahmir Sanni – who was sacked by the TaxPayers’ Alliance.

Carswell – Simpson’s former employer – went on to co-found the official Vote Leave campaign which was led by Matthew Elliott, the founder of the TaxPayers’ Alliance.

The TaxPayers’ Alliance rose to prominence in the 2000s with clever media campaigns which packaged stories in attractive ways and sent them to reporters to guarantee press coverage of their quest to cut government spending.

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In a 2008 interview with the BBC, Elliott said: “Journalists' budgets have been cut back massively and yet they have to produce much more content. They haven't got time to do a lot of the investigative stuff they used to do in the past.

"So when we present them with some primary source material, it's guaranteed to be a good story."

Zahawi is a fellow free-market ideologue, launching his unsuccessful Tory leadership bid with a pledge to “stabilise the economy” with low-tax Thatcherism.

But he may only have a matter of weeks left in his current role, depending on the outcome of the Tory leadership election which concludes on September 5.

Both the Treasury and The TaxPayers’ Alliance declined to comment.