CEO, Government Internal Audit Agency
speaker ( Chair )
Political Editor, Newsnight
speaker ( Chair )
Ayesha Hazarika MBE
Political commentator, writer and comedian
British Conservative politician; Chancellor of the Exchequer from 2016 to 2019
Elizabeth Honer was appointed Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Government Internal Audit Agency (GIAA), and Head of Government Internal Audit, on 1 October 2018.
Her career spans over 25 years in the public sector, including in the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, the Houses of Parliament and the National Archives. She is a qualified accountant (CIPFA), with substantial expertise in strategy, governance and risk management at Board level. She seeks to maximise the contribution of internal audit in delivering better outcomes, drawing on her previous experience both as a manager and customer of the function.
Elizabeth is a champion of diversity and inclusion in the workplace, actively seeking different perspectives and regularly mentoring women and BAME emerging leaders. She has an MSc in Managing Organisational Performance (Cranfield School of Management) and has published research articles on performance improvement and managing reputational risk.
When not at work, she enjoys cycling (many overseas tours with her husband), classical music (including choral singing) and cooking.
Nick Watt has worked in national journalism for 30 years, reporting on UK and EU politics.
In 2016, Nick became the Political Editor of Newsnight on BBC2. Before joining the BBC, Nick worked as the Guardian’s Chief Political Correspondent and as its European Editor based in Brussels. He started his career at the Times where he worked as a Political Correspondent and as Ireland Correspondent based in Belfast.
Nick has become a familiar figure on television reporting on the drama of the Brexit crisis as it claimed the careers of two Prime Ministers. His lively nightly updates have won widespread praise for providing illuminating insights into the rows behind the scenes.
Jack Blanchard, who writes the Politico London Playbook, has described Nick’s reports as ‘always immaculately sourced and well worth a listen.’
Nick was a well known broadcaster on BBC and Sky News before joining the BBC full time. He was a panelist on BBC1’s Sunday Politics presented by Andrew Neil and also provided humorous summaries of political events for This Week.
Nick’s interests have long extended beyond Westminster. He helped to anchor the Guardian’s coverage of the war in Kosovo and the Iraq war. As the Guardian’s Europe editor he travelled round Eastern Europe examining the impact of the EU on the new members states.
Nick has covered seven UK general elections, two Scottish referendums and two UK-wide referendums. He likes to joke that the downfall of Margaret Thatcher marked his debut in political journalism. As a trainee he was dispatched to describe her arrival at her new home in Dulwich on the day of her resignation.
In recent years Nick has gained extensive experience speaking at and chairing events in the political sphere and beyond. He has won praise for his witty and authoritative approach.
Ayesha Hazarika MBE
Ayesha Hazarika is a political commentator, writer and comedian who served as Chief of Staff to Harriet Harman, Labour Deputy Leader and twice Acting Leader of the Labour Party. She was a senior Labour adviser for more than eight years in Government and in opposition.
As well as working alongside Harriet, Ayesha prepared Ed Miliband for Prime Minister’s Questions, conference speeches, interviews and the televised Leaders’ debates during the 2015 election. She wrote speeches, questions and responses for both, as well as delivering the landmark Equality Act onto the statute book and leading Labour’s response to the Leveson Inquiry into phone hacking and press ethics.
Before politics, Ayesha worked with the chairman of music giant EMI and was a civil service press officer at the Department of Trade and Industry, Home Office and No 10. Before that, she was an award-winning comedian who toured the country and played the Edinburgh Fringe. A career she has returned to (at least in part), only now with a more political theme.
Ayesha lifts the lid on Westminster and how the parties operate from the deals and plots to how best to attack your opposite number across the floor. She looks at the serious and the entertaining sides of politics such as how it felt to watch Ed Miliband flounder on live TV, how policy is drafted, and the disconnection between Westminster and voters. She also reveals the important role her Nicola Sturgeon, Leanne Wood and Natalie Bennett impressions played in the leaders’ debate rehearsals.
As well as a political overview and analysis Ayesha looks at the role of women in politics and the challenges they often face in the careers. She considers how politics works, how messages are communicated (successfully and unsuccessfully), and how government policy is formed and influenced. She also addresses the future of culture, media and the creative industries in a climate of cuts and unequal opportunities.
Ayesha is a regular commentator on the BBC, Sky and ITN as well as writing for national newspapers and magazines including the FT, Guardian and New Statesman.
Philip Hammond has been a UK Cabinet Minister and key member of the British Government for almost a decade. Leading four departments over nine years and rising to the second most powerful job in government, he is one of only three people to serve continuously in the UK cabinet from 2010 to 2019, serving under Prime Ministers David Cameron and Theresa May.
Taking on the role of Chancellor of the Exchequer shortly after the 2016 Brexit Referendum, Hammond took charge of the British economy at a time of unprecedented uncertainty. Philip Hammond has always strongly held the view that nobody voted for Brexit with a view to becoming poorer or less secure, and thus believes the best way of honouring the result of the referendum is to negotiate a deal with the European Union that keeps the UK and EU close economically, after the 2020 transition period has come to an end.
He fought strongly for this approach within the cabinet and has continued to do so since leaving government. He also focused on the needs of businesses and particularly the need to protect London’s global financial markets.
Philip Hammond has focused on the challenges faced by developed economies, specifically: the technological revolution and how it is already transforming the way we work and live our lives; climate change and how to harness the market economy to deliver decarbonisation; demographic shifts and the challenges of an ageing population, and particularly in the UK, the challenge of raising productivity.
Through his roles as Chancellor and as Foreign Secretary, Hammond has considerable experience of working with China, and clear views about how to manage the integration of China as a major economic and strategic power into the global system. He also has strong connections in the Gulf region. He was part of the “E3+3” team that negotiated the JCPOA nuclear arms control deal with Iran in 2015. During his tenure as Defence and then Foreign Secretary, Hammond built strong links with the US and other allied counterparts, both civilian and military, and was a frequent visitor to Afghanistan during the campaign.
Philip Hammond retains a close interest in the strategic challenges facing the Western Alliance and then interrelationship between economic and strategic influences. Hammond grew up in Essex, England, and studied Philosophy, Politics and Economics at University College Oxford. Before entering Parliament in 1997, he ran a number of successful businesses. He stepped down as the Member of Parliament for the Surrey constituency of Runnymede and Weybridge in November 2019.