After missing out on several high-profile international jobs, including the European Council president and the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, and having her named floated for several more, Helle Thorning-Schmidt said on Wednesday that she has been hired as the CEO of Save the Children.
“I am deeply honoured. Children’s rights, protection and development have always been close to my heart and I look forward to doing everything I can to achieve our ambitious goals,” the former PM wrote on Facebook.
Save the Children chairman Sir Alan Parker said "Helle’s experience and capabilities will be a great asset" to the organization.
“We are very pleased to appoint a new CEO with a proven track record of international leadership and a passion to improve the world for children," Parker said in a statement.
Thorning-Schmidt told broadcaster DR that the move means her political career is over.
“I’m leaving politics now and it hurts a bit to say that,” she said.
“This is a new chapter in my life. I will work on an issue – the children – that I deeply care about,” she added.
The Danish chapter of Save the Children, Red Barnet, was among the many vocal critics of the Danish government’s new immigration policies, including making some refugees wait up to three years to be reunited with their families in Denmark. That Thorning-Schmidt was appointed the organization’s new CEO at the same time that her party, the Social Democrats, supported the asylum measures did not go unnoticed in the Danish press.
Thorning-Schmidt, however, dodged questions about her support of the bill.
“You know what? For the past seven months [since losing the election, ed.] I have stayed out of Danish politics. I will continue to do that,” she told Politiken.
Although Thorning-Schmidt has largely stayed out of the public eye since losing the June 18 election and withdrawing as the leader of the Social Democrats, she has remained a member of parliament. With her new job starting in April, she said she would abandon her seat as an MP shortly.
That could mean she can avoid casting a vote on the new immigration bill, which in addition to making it more difficult to achieve family reunification has also been a lightening rod of controversy for a provision allowing Danish authorities to seize cash and valuables from refugees.
She declined to tell Politiken if she would cast a vote on January 26 and if so if she planned to buck her party’s line or go against the recommendations of her new employer.
Thorning-Schmidt’s new job will be based in London, where she will be closer to her husband Stephen Kinnock, a member of the British parliament. The couple have two children.
Copenhagen city councilman Lars Aslan Rasmussen will replace Thorning-Schmidt in parliament when she formally steps down.