May’s Five U-Turns in Three Months


Theresa May has not yet been Prime Minister for three months and she has already u-turned on five significant policy issues:

  • EU citizens’ right to remain: During her leadership campaign May refused to guarantee the status of EU nationals living in the UK, now the government says they are “100% sure” they’ll be allowed to stay.
  • Hinkley Point: May announced a welcome pause on the new power plant, before approving the same deal proposed by Osborne.
  • Northern Powerhouse: Reports suggested May had decided to ditch Osborne’s pet project, she’s now said she’s fully behind it.
  • Foreign doctors: Jeremy Hunt suggested foreign doctors wouldn’t be able to stay in the country if they could be replaced by British recruits. May then failed three times in an interview to say the policy would go ahead.
  • Foreign staff lists: Amber Rudd’s plan to force companies to publish how many foreign staff they employ has now been abandoned.

During the Coalition years Guido put together a comprehensive rolling list of that government’s many, many u-turns. Some things don’t change…

May Orders Ministers to Link Every Policy to Meritocracy

Theresa May’s grammar schools speech was as much about defining her premiership as anything else. If eagle-eyed photographer Steve Back hadn’t snapped those secret government papers outlining the return of grammars, today’s speech would not have been made until conference. Senior Tories watching noted one key line:

“It will mean recalibrating how we approach policy development to ensure that everything we do as government helps to give a fair chance to those who are just getting by”

This is tanks-on-Labour’s-lawn rhetoric, but the PM is deadly serious about revamping how policy is formulated across Whitehall. Over the last few weeks ministers and civil servants have grown frustrated at Downing Street’s insistence that every single policy must have a “making the country work for everyone” angle. Policies and announcements that have nothing to do with May’s theme of meritocracy are being delayed or shunned until ministers can think of a way to make a link. In some departments, announcements and updates on old projects where the money has already been spent are being held back. As with Brexit, the government is actually getting work done, they just aren’t telling the public about it…

Theresa’s Copy and Paste Job


Theresa May tells us that “obviously over the summer – over the last few weeks – quite a lot of work has been done”. Which is good to know. So does the new government have any further detail on their plan for Brexit or their legislative agenda? Compare and contrast these quotes from the PM from today with her words over the last few weeks…

Today: “Brexit means Brexit, we’re going to make a success of it”

11 July: “Brexit means Brexit, and we’re going to make a success of it”

Today: “there’s no second referendum; no attempts to sort of stay in the EU by the back door”

11 July: “no attempts to remain inside the EU, with no second referendum or attempts to rejoin it by the backdoor”

Today: “We want to be a government and a country that works for everyone”

13 July: “a mission to make Britain a country that works for everyone”

Today: “I want it to be a society where it’s the talent that you have and how hard you’re prepared to work that determines how you get on”

13 July: “We will do everything to help you go as far as your talents can take you.”

Today: “we can get tough on irresponsible behaviour in big business”

11 July: “get tough on irresponsible behaviour in big business”

Today: “forge a new positive role for the UK in the world”

11 July: “forge a new role for ourselves in the World”

That “quite a lot of work” done over the summer appears to be copying and pasting her old speeches…

May Imposes Authority on Whitehall


Much has been made of Theresa May’s formidable joint chiefs of staff Nick Timothy and Fiona Hill rigorously vetting new SpAd appointments. This isn’t really that out of the ordinary, Ed Llewellyn would do likewise during the Cameron era. What has changed under the new regime is the level of control exerted over everyday life on Whitehall. Over the couple of weeks Downing Street has imposed its authority on government departments, insisting that everything from minor campaign launches to bog standard press releases go through Number 10 first. Departments were used to a far higher degree of autonomy, now everything has to be signed off. To some it has felt like a slightly suffocating centralisation of power. Sensible for the first few weeks perhaps, but ministers are hoping the PM loosens her grip once she is settled in…

SpAd List: New Appointments


Downing Street sources indicate the final SpAd List will not be released for some weeks, so Guido’s spreadsheet is the only place to stay up to date. Since our last update Osborne’s widely-respected former SpAd Neil O’Brien has been kept on to do industrial strategy in Number 10. Damian Green has retained Flora Rose at DWP and signed up Matt Hancock’s old SpAd Lottie Dexter. Vote Leave spinner Rob Oxley teams up once again with Priti Patel at DfID. Another Vote Leave alumnus, their broadcast chief Lee Cain, is expected to join Leadsom at Defra. Rachel Wolf is reportedly leaving No.10 despite initially being kept on.

The Times says May will be purging SpAds to cut costs after the numbers rocketed under Dave, apparently a limit of two per Cabinet minister. That will go down like a cup of cold sick with the likes of Boris, Davis and Fox. Appointments are being vetted by May’s chiefs of staff Nick Timothy and Fiona Hill. Good luck – they are going to be ruthless… 

SpAd List Taking Shape


Theresa May’s Downing Street team is slowly taking shape – her former SpAd and Vote Leave alumnus Stephen Parkinson is to be given a role. All of David Cameron’s SpAds were told to clear their desks and just two have been brought back into the fold, Rachel Wolf and super-SpAd Sheridan Westlake. New Secretaries of State are taking their time appointing advisers, meetings have been taking place over the last few days and names should start to trickle out next week:

If you know of any appointments Guido doesn’t have on his list, get in touch

Downing Street Boozing Kiboshed


Philip Hammond has joined Theresa May in cancelling a get-to-know-you drinks party for journalists. Last week the new PM, who is famously not a gossip and is keen to end the spinning / briefing culture of the old regime, called off her planned drinks bash with the Lobby. To be fair she was a little busy – it was at that point that Leadsom had just pulled out. Now this evening’s planned drinkies with the Chancellor at the Treasury are off as well, though hacks have been assured they’re only postponed until the autumn. Shame, it was a nice day for it. Pub?

SpAd List: May Names New Team

A new government means a new SpAd list and Guido’s handy resource of political appointments is beginning to take shape. Theresa May has appointed her former SpAds Fiona Hill (formerly Cunningham) and Nick Timothy as her Joint Chiefs of Staff. Her former spin doctor and PR guru Katie Perrior becomes Director of Communications. Mail on Sunday journalist turned media spokeswoman Liz Sanderson is Head of Features. Vote Leave alumnus and ex-IDS aide Lizzie Loudon will be Press Secretary. John Godfrey is the new Number 10 Director of Policy.

Ministers who survived the reshuffle are likely to keep hold of their bag-carriers so Guido has included them on the list for the time being. The high turnover of ministers means there are a lot of talented SpAds spending their evenings in Westminster pubs plotting their next move. New departments mean there are more places to fill. Help us fill in the gaps as and when appointments are made by emailing

Sophy Ridge C-Bombs Jeremy Hunt

Boulton, pro that it he is, barely reacts, watch the eyes…[…]


Reshuffle As It Happens


Chancellor – Philip Hammond

George Osborne sacked.

Foreign Secretary – Boris Johnson

Home Secretary – Amber Rudd

Defence Secretary – Michael Fallon

Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union – David Davis

Secretary of State for International Trade – Liam Fox[…]


Camerons Leave Downing Street For Last Time



Removal Van at No. 10


Via Standard


Tory Leadership Runners and Riders

This is where the potential Tory leadership contenders stand this morning:

  • Boris Johnson – Will announce he’s running within days. Jesse Norman, Nadhim Zahawi and Ben Wallace are phoning round MPs canvassing for support. Faces a battle to get on the ballot from Cameron’s allies, Remain MPs and a number of Leavers too. 


Cameron’s Big Speech Bombs

For the second time, Downing Street have summoned the press for a supposedly “significant” statement that has bombed:



Panicked PM Misses Parkinson’s Memorial


Today brought the memorial service for Cecil Parkinson, the former Thatcher confidant and Party Chairman who was possibly one of the best Prime Ministers we never had. It was noted by many attendees that the PM did not show his face – it was held in St Margarets, Westminster Abbey, a 2 minute walk from Downing Street.[…]


Peter Gabriel’s “Interspecies Internet”

Peter Gabriel went to Downing Street to hand in a petition to ban keeping monkeys as pets. Also on the agenda: “An interspecies internet that is open and available to non-humans.”

H/T ITV News


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Quote of the Day

Philip Hammond at Treasury questions:

“I’m sorry to be boring.”

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