Ben Brogan, who has an excellent civil service source, broke the news this morning that Paul Kirby, the apparently “respected” civil servant head of the No.10 policy unit, was leaving his post. Downing Street has now confirmed it: “The Prime minister thinks Paul did an excellent job recruiting and leading an excellent team.” Interestingly, Kirby won’t be replaced by another Civil Servant, instead this crucial role will revert back to a political appointment. As Guido recommended months ago (See: Downing Street Needs Ideological Wonks).
Paul Waugh has some more detail: “I am told it was Kirby’s decision to leave as he felt his main work had been done and the mid-term review was a natural point to leave.” That’s not what Guido is hearing though.
A government source whispers that there was actually multiple reasons for the departure. Including that he was “completely useless” had “no political nous” and a “totally bureaucratic mindset.” More embarrassingly, details are emerging of a tantrum resulting in Kirby returning to KPMG:
“He completely humiliated himself by demanding a promotion to permanent secretary. When he was told he had no chance, he opted to flounce out of government altogether rather than take a job in another department.”
“A natural time to leave”, indeed.