Downing Street Chief of Staff Runners & Riders

With the departure of Dominic Cummings from Downing Street today, and Lee Cain’s Director of Communication’s role going to Downing Street spokesman James Slack, all eyes are pointing at who will step into Dom’s shoes as de facto Chief of Staff at Number 10. A tricky gig, which would both have to ensure smooth running of Number 10 and warm frosty relations with the parliamentary party. Skill set also required: top flight administrator; diplomatic with people; able to work long, regular hours; exist to serve the PM, not advance their own agenda. Guido brings you some potential runners and riders names that are being bandied about with varying degrees of (im)plausibility…

  • Lord Frost
    • Dom’s departure was originally scheduled to fit the conclusion of EU exit negotiations. Surely non-stop Frosty will want to get some rest before a huge new challenge…
  • Nikki Da Costa
    • The well thought of director of legislative affairs at Number 10, has the qualifications to be the next chief of staff. Would the gruelling long hours really suit someone with a young toddler?
  • Cleo Watson, Henry Cook, or Katie Lam
    • Any of the three current deputy chiefs of staff could feasibly step into the role. Vote Leave veteran Cleo is closer to Cummings than most. Henry and Katie are also eminently capable, and already know the brief…
  • Syed Kamall
    • Former leader of the ECR group in the European Parliament, and Brexit-backing Tory MEP. Well liked and sound as a pound. Kamall has been Research Director at the IEA since 2019 so his appointment would set certain Guardian journalists alight with rage…
  • David Canzini
    • Veteran of Boris’s leadership campaign, now at Lynton Crosby’s firm CTF. Solid operator.
  • Henry Newman
    • Closer to the ‘Carrie side’ of Downing Street than many of those associated with Vote Leave, the long-time Gove SpAd could build bridges between warring factions. Although Boris may be wary of building up the Gove power base…
  • Isaac Levido
    • The mastermind of the seismic 2019 Tory landslide was drafted in at the start of the pandemic before returning to his new start-up. Levido strikes Guido as a campaign manager rather than an office manager…
  • Andrew Feldman
    • Former Chairman of the Conservative Party and Cameroon. Been (near) there, got the T-shirt… unlikely given he is coining it back in the private sector.
  • Robbie Gibb
    • Respected by the party, Robbie served as Downing Street Comms chief from 2017-2019. Very busy in the private sector, can’t see him rushing back to Downing Street…
  • Sajid Javid
    • A name from the school of thought that believes the post should go to an MP to help soothe backbench relations. Carrie was his SpAd. Would please party though it would make things awkward at Number 11. Chris Hope reckons Saj wants the job. Against is that Saj is keen on seeing his children and would also have to quit those lucrative outside interests he has just signed up to
    • UPDATE: Guido is firmly told that people are confusing Saj’s advocacy of a Chief of Staff role in Downing Street in principle, with a desire for the job. Ain’t gonna happen.

Dom’s exit today piles on the pressure to find a replacement… Sir Edward Lister is the interim Chief of Staff.

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