This morning Politico Playbook had this on the Tory party’s search for a new Director of Communications, after the CCHQ press office was left severely depleted by a raft of departures:
“Party Chairman Brandon Lewis has already tried to lure one prominent female lobby hack with the promise of a whopping salary and a deputy of her choice … but the offer was turned down. The hunt goes on.”
Guido hears attention has now turned to the PR world to find a new Tory spin chief. Brandon Lewis wants Caroline Preston from comms agency Stonehaven to take over as he seeks to install key allies ahead of a coming leadership contest. Preston was a former head of broadcasting for David Cameron at Number 10, who then worked at the heart of the Remain campaign. Preston features regularly in Craig Oliver’s book, where Sir Craig talks about working with her to keep Theresa May off the screens on referendum night, and gives her a special acknowledgement at the end alongside other prominent Stronger In staff. Guido hears the Tories are keen to ensure the job is taken by a woman as they do not have many in key roles at the CCHQ boys’ club.
Brandon is trying to build a power base at Matthew Parker Street – the word is he genuinely considers himself a leadership contender and wants to stuff CCHQ with his allies in time for any contest. Party chairman is theoretically a formidable platform for a leadership candidate thanks to the face time you get with members, and it seems Brandon seriously sees himself as the Remain candidate. Good luck to Caroline if she gets the gig, Brandon certainly needs all the spin help he can get after pair-gate…
UPDATE: Re that Politico gossip above, Guido is told Preston is the only person to which CCHQ has given a formal offer.