Sebastian James: Cameron’s Bullingdon Club pal endorses Sir Keir Starmer’s Labour

Sebastian James Camerons Bullingdon Club pal endorses Sir Keir Starmers Labour
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The chief executive of Boots has endorsed Sir Keir Starmer’s Labour Party in a major blow to Rishi Sunak.


Sebastian James, an Old Etonian friend of Boris Johnson and David Cameron, praised Sir Keir’s focus on economic growth and Britain’s high streets.

And he welcomed Labour’s plans to “put more money in people’s pockets” to help address the cost of living crisis, which he said Boots customers still complain about daily.


The Boots chief is the latest business leader to get behind Labour ahead of the looming general election, four years after industry shunned the party under Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership.


But his endorsement is especially significant due to his close relationship to foreign secretary Lord Cameron. Mr James is pictured alongside Lord Cameron and former PM Mr Johnson in the infamous black and white 1987 Bullingdon Club photo.


In 2011 it was reported that Lord Cameron and Mr James stayed together in the businessman’s £10,000 a week 15-bedroom luxury Italian villa before having to return early and deal with the London riots. Lord Cameron as PM also appointed Mr James to a panel to decide how money was spent on new schools in 2012.

Sebastian James, the Boots chief executive and Old Etonian friend of David Cameron, has endorsed Labour (Wiki Commons)

Now, despite Lord Cameron being in Mr Sunak’s cabinet, Mr James has swung behind the Labour Party’s plans for government.

He appeared virtually at an event alongside Sir Keir and almost the entire shadow cabinet launching Labour’s six first steps if it wins this year’s general election.

Introducing shadow health secretary Wes Streeting, Mr James said: “A stable economy provides the right platform for sustainable economic growth, and it’s that real focus on economic growth that is going to be so important in the next few years.

“The second thing is government and business really listening to each other, really listening to each other and working together to grow our economy.”

The black and white 1987 Bullingdon Club photo featured many future political and industry leaders (Alamy Stock Photo)

Mr James, whose full name is the Right Hon Sebastian Richard Edward Cuthbert James, is the son of hereditary peer and landowning aristocrat Lord Northbourne.

He is the latest high profile business leader to throw his weight behind Sir Keir and shadow chancellor Rachel Reeves.


In a shock moment at last year’s Labour Party conference, former Bank of England governor Mark Carney heaped praise on the party’s financial plans.

Mr Carney, the 59-year-old who was handpicked by former Tory chancellor George Osborne to be governor, stunned the Labour conference with a video address saying: “Rachel Reeves is a serious economist. She began her career at the Bank of England, so she understands the big picture. But, crucially, she understands the economics of work, of place and family. It is beyond time we put her energy and ideas into action.”

Iceland boss Richard Walker, who previously tried to stand as a Conservative MP, has also thrown his weight behind Labour, saying the party was the “right choice” for households and businesses.

Sir Keir Starmer launched a presidential-style campaign ahead of the general election this year (Victoria Jones/PA Wire)

The executive chairman of the supermarket and former Tory donor said Sir Keir has “transformed” Labour since taking over from Mr Corbyn four years ago.

Sir Keir on Thursday launched the latest phase of Labour’s general election battle in the key battleground of Essex, where many voters turned to Margaret Thatcher in the 1980s before backing Tony Blair in 1997 and then returning to the Tories in 2010.

He unveiled new Blair-style pledge cards, where it will be accompanied by a list of the current leader’s “six first steps” for an incoming Labour government.

The six pledges, which come on top of five missions unveiled last year, include delivering economic stability, with tough spending rules to be implemented and a strategy to grow the economy by keeping taxes, inflation and mortgages “as low as possible”.

Labour launched its six first steps if it wins the general election (Getty Images)

The steps also include a new Border Security Command to smash the criminal boat gangs – announced last week – and the creation of a publicly owned energy provider, to be called Great British Energy.

In addition, there will be a crackdown on antisocial behaviour, with the introduction of more neighbourhood police officers. And Labour will recruit 6,500 new teachers in key subjects.

Speaking via video at the launch, Mr James said: “I must mention something close to my heart, Keir came to one of our Boots stores earlier in the year and we talked about the importance of looking after our high streets.

“There is a Boots on almost every high street but high streets are not just a place that people come to shop, it’s a place of work – in some small towns, the only place of work. It’s a place to meet, to connect, to get health advice from your pharmacist, it’s the heart of our towns, and a thriving high street helps to build communities. And I think that’s going to be a really important gamechanger in the next few years. We need to invest in it, connect it to our digital worlds and look after it.”

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