Wolseley Plot: Hammond and Barwell Spotted Scheming Against Boris and Brexit

They’ve only been out of government a week and already Philip Hammond and Gavin Barwell have been spied ramping up the plotting against the new Prime Minister. The pair were spotted out with their wives at the Wolseley last night. Guido’s mole in the room says there was extensive discussion both about thwarting Boris and revoking Article 50.

Hammond has even been alienating committed Remainers with his ultra-hardline approach in recent weeks, purging anti-No Deal Tory WhatsApp groups of Remainers who dared to publicly back Boris. The fact that Theresa May’s most senior Cabinet Minister and Chief of Staff are busy scheming against Boris and Brexit just a week after leaving office speaks volumes about why May failed to deliver…

Barwell’s Mystery Brussels Trip

Gavin Barwell was spotted in St Pancras this morning getting off the 8.52am Eurostar from Brussels – complete with overnight bag and accompanied by an unidentified aide. A co-conspirator says Barwell was looking very pleased…

The PM’s Chief of Staff hasn’t been a regular visitor to Brussels during the negotiations so far and his visit wasn’t briefed out to the media. What could he have been up to?

UPDATE: A Whitehall insider has identified the aide as Barwell’s private secretary.

CCHQ Snubs Barwell in SpAd Power Play

On Friday afternoon, government Special Advisers will be having their first interdepartmental meeting in months, after an unusually long period of no formal meetings at all. The meeting will not be taking place in the usual venue of Number 10, instead it be held round the corner in CCHQ, in what is being seen by some as a sabre rattling move. Conservative Party Chairman Brandon Lewis emailed SpAds to invite them over…

Guido understands that this is a snub to the Prime Minister’s Chief of Staff, Gavin Barwell, who many within CCHQ, as well as the Prime Minister’s husband, see as a big problem. Hyper-Remainer Barwell is seen as “a blockage” to party unity, and his attempts to water down Brexit by bringing Labour Remainers on board have led many to the conclusion that he should go…

UPDATE: A CCHQ source gets in touch to say: “The meeting on Friday is a chance for the Party Chairman to brief SpAds about the forthcoming local election campaign. The regular SpAd catch-up meetings at No10 will continue as normal in the coming weeks.”

No. 10 Keeping Croydon Central in the Family

A key Downing Street figure is set to fight Croydon Central in the next General Election, although it’s not previous MP Gavin Barwell. The local party last night selected Mario Creatura, the PM’s digital SpAd (he does the PM’s tweets) who was brought in to revitalise Downing Street’s social media operation, to try to win his boss’s former seat back. Creatura is one of Barwell’s Croydon cronies of yore and his former Parliamentary aide. Number 10 are evidently keen on keeping the constituency in the family. Will any mischievous Downing Street staffers be getting Creatura a copy of his boss’s book for Secret Santa?

Barwell U-Turns On Briefing Labour MPs

Gavin Barwell’s plan to brief Labour MPs on why they should back Olly Robbin’s Chequers Brexit plan was reportedly cancelled. The idea that the PM’s chief-of-staff was going to brief oppostition MPs so that they would out-vote sceptical MPs on the government benches, went down very badly with Tory MPs. Not that the prior briefing to Tory MPs went that well, Mark Francois was practically heckling. Barwell’s Brexit advice is no better than the advice proffered in his 2016 book “How to Win a Marginal Seat”. Barwell lost his Croydon seat the following year…

Gavin Barwell: Brexit is the Politics of Hate

Gavin Barwell has invited Labour MPs in for a briefing on the government’s Brexit policy, as he seeks opposition votes to keep Theresa May’s plan alive. Worth remembering what Barwell thinks of Brexit – he tweeted this the day after the referendum result:

May accordingly appointed him as her chief of staff and one of the key figures in delivering Brexit. As Theresa once said, you can’t deliver Brexit if you don’t believe in Brexit…

No.10 / Civil Service Love In

In response to more Brexiteer criticism of Olly Robbins’ customs partnership proposal in the Sunday newspapers, a clear concerted effort from Number 10 to back their Remainer civil servants:

Jeremy Heywood sends some love back:

Hardly going to reassure Leavers. Pass the sick bucket…

Barwell’s Croydon Cronies

When Theresa May entered Number 10 she vowed to do away with Dave’s chumocracy and make sure her Downing Street wasn’t stuffed full of a load of old mates. Guido has previously revealed how 85% of Number 10 SpAds are blokes. Another theme has been identified on Whitehall: Gavin Barwell’s Croydon cronies. As May’s chief of staff, failed Croydon MP Barwell has hired three pals from his old patch to work in Downing Street. Mario Creatura, the PM’s digital SpAd, used to be Barwell’s bag-carrier in parliament and is also a Tory councillor in Croydon. Jason Cummings was a parliamentary assistant to Barwell for two years and is also a Croydon Tory councillor – now he’s a political adviser to the PM. Nero Ughwujabo, who works in the Number 10 policy unit, ran the Croydon BME Forum for 15 years before also benefiting from Barwell’s patronage. The women problem and chumocracy live on in Downing Street, it’s just that this time the inner circle are Old Croydonians rather than Old Etonians…

Guido can also reveal a few new SpAd moves. Peter Cardwell is moving to the Home Office to look after the women and equalities brief. Sophie Dean is now working for Esther McVey at DWP. Karen Bradley’s Northern Ireland team has been bolstered with the hires of her former DCMS SpAd Romilly Dennys and ex-Tory NI minister Kris Hopkins. Let us know any updates here

May’s Chief of Staff in Late Night “Twinkystar69” Porn Shocker

The late night activities of Gavin Barwell, Theresa May’s chief of staff in Number 10, are usually limited to tweeting from Nando’s. On Monday night however, it appears he was choking the chicken rather than eating it.

Barwell’s Twitter account replied to a pornographic tweet featuring two ‘teen schoolgirls’ and their ‘mom’, as well as a second video from the niche website Blacked.com. Guido has analysed the tweets and determined it is impossible that Barwell was hacked or clicked on a funny link. The only way he could have tweeted a reply featuring these handles – which were tagged into the original porn tweet – is if he was viewing the tweet in question. The porn account’s name is “Twinkystar“, and Gavin was viewing it on his Android device at 9:21pm. At least he wasn’t doing it in the office, right Gavin? 

UPDATE: Barwell has now deleted the tweet, proving he does have access to his account.

UPDATE II: Told Barwell was not in Downing Street when he sent porn reply (phew!). No. 10 source: “Gavin Barwell replied to this tweet, which was in his timeline, in error. He has deleted the reply and regrets the embarrassment this has caused.”

“Dull, Dull, Dull” – More Tories Bemoan No.10’s Lack of Ideas

Nick Boles’ tweet about Theresa May’s “timidity and lack of ambition” has resonated with both Leave and Remain Tory MPs and right-leaning publications. Nicholas Soames is the latest to come out and call the government’s policy programme “dull dull dull”:

This isn’t just awkward Sarah Wollaston types or long-standing Remainers and May critics like Ed Vaizey. The lack of ideas and ambition in Number 10 has been the main concern of large numbers of MPs since the election, echoed even by May’s former chief of staff Nick Timothy. MPs have been sending each other Juliet Samuel’s coruscating critique of the government in the Telegraph this morning – it’s hard to argue with her:

“Talk to people at any level of the Conservative Party. You can ask MPs, council leaders, party officials, local associations and you get the same description. There’s no direction. Nothing is happening. The operation is headless, clueless. What’s the public evidence of this? Well, just consider the terrible wounds inflicted on this Government with growing frequency. Many of them aren’t its fault when they first emerge, yet somehow, they “become” its fault.”

They agree over at ConservativeHome, where Paul Goodman pleads this morning for some direction and fresh ideas:

“Why should she not deliver a series of speeches, over the next year, to set out why, in her view, the social market, as Keith Joseph put it, works better than the socialist state?… There’s much that the Government could do without proposing new laws that Parliament would vote down.  On the NHS and social care, it could set up a Royal Commission… On schools, it could lift the cap requirement on new faith schools… On skills, it could advance Boles’ plan for new two year technical diplomas… On housing, it could free up more state-owned land… On ownership, it could have a look at Michael Fallon’s ideas, including tax breaks for companies that offer free shares to employees…”

Instead Gavin Barwell has reportedly once again shot down the hugely popular Vote Leave policy of spending the Brexit dividend on the NHS, to the outcry of colleagues like Rob Halfon. The unrest over the lack of policies has been bubbling away for months, it is starting to come out into the open…

‘One Week to Stop a Soft Brexit’, Barwell Failing to Hold it Together

Two columns today show just how serious things are between Number 10 and the Brexiteers. In the Speccie James Forsyth quotes a leading Vote Leave figure warning there is “a week to fight back” against a soft Brexit. His piece blames the whole clusterf**k on a “hopelessly understaffed” Downing Street, “a general lack of direction and grip” and the vacuum caused by Damian Green’s distractions. In the Times Iain Martin is even more damning, he says Number 10 “resembles a morgue” and names Gavin Barwell as “struggling to hold it all together”Yesterday Guido told how May is being bounced by Jeremy Heywood and Olly Robbins into a non-Brexit which prevents us from diverging from the EU – this is now the crunch issue.

Cabinet Brexiteers do not believe Theresa May wants to sell them out on Brexit. However they think May, Barwell and Number 10 do not understand the implications of the direction they are taking on regulatory alignment. Leavers are genuinely raging that there is no one in charge and the lack of leadership in Downing Street has allowed Heywood and Robbins to dictate the process and shift them towards a soft Brexit. Tories are even muttering wistfully that Nick Timothy would never have stood for this – it is a sign of how bad things are that some are almost longing for the days he was in charge. The Cabinet reckoning on the Brexit end state is promised before the end of the year. May has delayed it to hold her government together but in doing so her indecisiveness and caution has allowed the Remainers to walk her towards a non-Brexit.

The Vote Leave figure says there is a week to fight back against a soft Brexit. The other way of looking at it is May has a week to save herself from the consequences of taking the wrong path… 

Barwell Blanks Sky

To be fair to Gavin it is not convention for the PM’s chief of staff to give interviews. Though in the circumstances it may have looked better if the former housing minister had stopped to answer some questions…

Barwell Blamed for Piling Remainers into Government

The latest round of reshuffle appointments has seen Alistair Burt, Alok Sharma, Mark Field and Mark Lancaster promoted to Minister of State level. All of them Remainers…

The penny has dropped this afternoon that the PM’s new chief of staff Gavin Barwell has been slotting in Remainers where ever he can. The replacement of fervent Brexiteer David Jones as Minister of State at the Department for Exiting the European Union was remarkable. Guido understands that Jones – who led the Welsh arm of the Vote Leave campaign – was replaced by Baroness Anelay without reference to his boss David Davis. That raised eyebrows…

Insiders grumble that the charming Barwell, an arch-Remainer, blames the loss of his Croydon seat on Brexit, London being a Remain stronghold. He is taking the opportunity of being restored to the centre of power to put pro-Remain allies into positions of influence. Barwell is also being blamed for the clumsy “end to austerity” spin. Hardly anyone on the Tory backbenches thinks that the loss of a 24 point lead in a 7 week election was due to voters changing their views on fiscal prudence. Britain was not suddenly converted to the merits of harvesting magic money trees…

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