Tuesday, October 11, 2011

O’Shaughnessy Has Left the Building

The big Downing Street change around continues. There has been much speculation that policy head James O’Shaughnessy was on his way out. With the re-jigging of Ameet Gill to replace Tim Chatwin as Head of Strategy, plus the arrival of Julian Glover in the speech-writing team, Guido has been waiting for the expected announcement. To no avail…

Guido tried calling O’Shaughnessy’s extension to be greeted by a confused staffer who first claimed that James was on “annual leave”, when Guido asked if the policy wonk was ever coming back from his “holiday” they said they didn’t know what was going on. Other Downing Street sources are refusing to deny O’Shaughnessy has left the building. Guido understands that a civil servant, Chris Brown, is running the policy unit.

Shades of dysfunctionality in Downing Street…

Boulter Wades In Again: Werritty Loved First Class Travel

Harvey Boulter isn’t the most reliable of witnesses but he raises some intriguing points. He just did an interview with the BBC that could only be described as a hand-grenade. He described Fox’s version of events around their meeting in Dubai as “half truths”. He said Adam Werritty boasted of his love of first class travel…

Boulter also said he told the Guardian to go and “do their homework” when they told him Werritty wasn’t working for them. Given Boulter discussed sensitive information regarding his business and legal disputes, he is demanding to know who paid for Air Miles Adam, but stopped short of accusing him of outright corporate espionage. Petrol on the fire…

The Hand of Basher

David Davis is a natural contender to replace Liam Fox:

And it seems he is well aware of this fact…

UPDATE: The cracks are starting to show –  Patrick Mercer, who would love the job, has told the World at One:

“The Secretary of State for Defence is running a ministry which is under serious financial strictures but much more imp is fighting certainly one hot war in Afghanistan/Pakistan, the remains of a campaign in Libya and with all sorts of difficulties and problems and further campaigns and involvement on the horizon.The last thing that busy civil servants need and busy uniformed staff inside the Ministry of Defence is this sort of distraction with their boss.”

Fox and the £100,000 Question

Despite obvious security flaws, saucy innuendo and the potential of government work being done off the books, it’s the paper trail that will decide Fox’s fate. Joe Murphy over at the Standard has been crunching the numbers:

“I’ve done an analysis based on British Airways fares to the various destinations, which included Dubai five times, plus Hong Kong Washington and Singapore twice each.  Exact costs are impossible to determine because fares vary according to demand so I’m basing this on return flights taken this week. Flying in BA’s cheapest economy seats, the 18 trips would cost £25,000 in tickets.  However, if Mr Werritty went business class, his ticket expenses alone would have gone up to £77,146. Now let’s add in two nights stay each trip in a typical £200 a night business hotel, costing another £7,200. That would take the total travel cost to £85,000. But then there are all those dinners at the sort of costly restaurants where one might just bump into a millionaire private equity boss.  With such high subsistence costs, he could easily have spent over £100,000.”

Company House records show that Werritty, who is being interviewed as part of the Cabinet Office/MoD investigation today, has barely made a quarter of that sum through his various consultancy arms. So where did the money come from? Who paid Adam’s way? Until this is answered, this story will not go away…

+ + + Jeremy Heywood Confirmed as Next Cabinet Secretary + + +


CV:

  • The fifty year old Oxford and LSE graduate has worked for Chancellors Lamont, Clarke and Brown.
  • Became Blair’s Principal Private Secretary in 1999.
  • Spent 2003 to 2007 at Morgan Stanley
  • Returned to the Cabinet Office in 2007 in a strategy role for Gordon.
  • Since January 2008 Heywood has been Permanent Secretary at Number 10.

Downing Street sources confirm he gets the promotion.

UPDATE: The FT report “A new “head of the civil service” will take over the admin responsibilities for the whole of Whitehall. Sir David Normington is to launch an internal competition to recruit this person. The Cabinet Office will have a new, dedicated permanent secretary. It is Ian Watmore, currently head of the Cabinet Office’s ‘efficiency and reform’ group.” GOD’s resignation letter is here.

BREAKING: GOD to Quit, Job Split

It was well known that Cabinet Sectary Gus O’Donnell was on his way out, and rumours were afoot that there was some consternation about appropriate candidates to fill his boots. Well it seems the plan is to split up his job instead:

Jeremy Heywood is in the line for the newly defined Cabinet Secretary role, but was expected to get the whole thing. Christopher Hope reports that a Head of Civil Service is still to be decided.

GOD isn’t going until the end of the year, which makes you wonder about the timing of such an announcement…

UPDATE: It certainly wasn’t GOD himself that leaked this news. According to the Guardian’s Jonathan Haynes, he is currently in a meeting with the MoD Permanent Secretary Ursula Brennan trying to sort the Fox investigation out.

Fox Speaks Out, Sort Of

“Friends of Liam Fox” have been in touch with Ben Brogan over at the Telegraph:

“I gather he is close to a put up or shut up moment about his private life: if his pursuers have something to say they should say it out loud rather than whisper speculation, he tells friends.”

Given that it’s Liam’s “friends” that have got him into this mess in the first place, Guido would take what they say with a pinch of salt, but he’s certainly surprised that Fox would take that high-risk route. The last roll of the dice?

Telegraph Copy Fiddle Fury

Fox Trotting: A Meeting In Every Port


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