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Microsoft threatened job cuts after proposed IT reforms, says ex Conservative strategy head

Microsoft told MPs it would shut down UK facilities if the government implemented IT reforms in the early days of the Liberal Democrat and Conservative coalition, according to a former Conservative strategy chief.

Steve Hilton, who led strategy in Downing Street for two years, accused Microsoft of using its weight to kill reform during a discussion about lobbyists.

Speaking in Westminster during the promotion of his new book, Hilton said: “You just have to fight them off. I can give you specific examples: the thing I mentioned about IT contracts. Maybe there is someone here to confirm this from Microsoft? When we proposed this, Microsoft phoned Conservative MPs with Microsoft R&D facilities in their constituencies and said, ‘we will close them down in your constituency if this goes through’.

“And we had the same from other tech companies as well. We had the stories from the MPs saying I’ve just had this call from – sometimes a global CEO – phoning a Conservative MP, saying we will close down this plant.”

He concluded: “We just resisted. You have to be brave. You just have to say sorry: it’s the right thing to do.”

A Microsoft spokesperson told the Guardian: “We have looked into the nearly decade-old matter and we don’t recognise these claims.”

The company added that it has an "honest" and "opne" engadgement with the government.

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