Now that Alexander Nix has been suspended as Cambridge Analytica chief executive, the hunt is on to see who else he has been meeting – in London or Washington. His meetings with UK officials would have been disclosed. But one wasn’t: a meeting with Boris Johnson in December 2016. The Foreign Secretary wasn’t seeking the algorithm that took Trump to victory – his objective was to try to learn about, and improve links with, Team Trump. And here was a Brit who, apparently, was a close part of that team.
Boris and Nix met on the advice of Foreign Office officials, at a time when Britain was scrambling for routes into the Trump administration. Nix had been deftly promoting himself as someone who had all sorts of connections in Trumpworld. The meeting lasted for twenty minutes – there were officials present, so presumably there was no talk of Ukrainian honeytraps. I'm told that Boris was ‘unimpressed’ by Nix: after all, he’d know an Etonian blowhard when he saw one.
Nix did the rounds, meeting Alan Duncan and other officials in Number 10 and the Foreign Office. This was at a time foreign ministries world over were meeting all kinds of characters to give them an insight into an incoming government. Given what has happened with Cambridge Analytica, this meeting is embarrassing for Boris – and, indeed, all concerned. The failure to disclose makes the meeting even more embarrassing. But it’s not, in the circumstances, so surprising.