Whose Head Will Roll Over Downing Street Parties?

Downing Street’s Christmas party problem continues to ramp up, not least now it’s become more prominent in the public’s consciousness that there were multiple parties during the November and December lockdowns. Public anger is boiling and a senior head will have to roll. Who was responsible for the events?

There are three alleged drinks sessions contested during lockdown in Downing Street:

Boris reportedly said a few words at Lee Cain’s leaving event on November 13, if that event was accompanied by a few bottles of Downing Street claret it is arguably a leaving party. Incidentally, Boris was pinged and went into self-isolation on November 16… 

Cleo Watson’s leaving drinks was on November 27, reportedly Boris came in and made a speech, mentioning how crowded it was in the room before leaving shortly afterwards. This doesn’t sound like an event compliant with the rules.

If, as the BBC reports, the December party was for the press team, it would have to have been authorised, or at least not vetoed, by then-director of communications James Slack. Since he has departed to The Sun it makes it more difficult for No. 10 to blame him for subsequently assuring the PM that no rules were broken. If, however, current director of communications Jack Doyle was at the party, and has been briefing it didn’t happen, that would make life very difficult for him. It was Max Blain, the Prime Minister’s Official Spokesperson, who briefed the Lobby on Monday that there was no party.

Despite being the poster girl for this story, Allegra Stratton was not in charge of the Downing Street press operation at the time of these events, according to the leaked video she did not stay for the party in question and certainly is not responsible for briefing the PM or the Lobby about the nature or (non)-existence of the party this week. Ultimately the PM must take responsibility for his advisors and their actions. Boris’s errors at PMQs today, not least denying Lee Cain’s leaving do was a party on November 13 and being bounced by Starmer into agreeing to hand over any evidence to the Metropolitan Police and the CPS, has compounded his difficulties.  The Cabinet Secretary Simon Case is to head an internal inquiry, though currently Downing Street can’t confirm or deny if he attended the party. Allegra resigning over a party for which she wasn’t responsible might not be the end of this…

N.B. This was written before Allegra Stratton resigned.

mdi-timer 8 December 2021 @ 15:42 8 Dec 2021 @ 15:42 mdi-twitter mdi-facebook mdi-whatsapp mdi-telegram mdi-linkedin mdi-email mdi-comment View Comments
Lee Cain Launching Strategic Advisory Firm

Lee Cain has a new look and a new soon to be launched firm, Charlesbye Limited, which is going to do strategic advice and communications. Cain, who turns 40 this year, named his firm after the street he grew up on in Ormskirk, Lancashire.  Lee is also launching a career on the after dinner speaking circuit. According to PR Week, for a mere £5,000, he’ll provide you with insights and anecdotes to liven up your events…

mdi-timer 22 March 2021 @ 16:46 22 Mar 2021 @ 16:46 mdi-twitter mdi-facebook mdi-whatsapp mdi-telegram mdi-linkedin mdi-email mdi-comment View Comments
Boris Puts All his PPS Eggs in 2019 Basket

A small PPS reshuffle came last night after a few resignations and sackings:

  • Chris Clarkson (2019) → MoJ
  • Jonathan Gullis (2019)→ Leader of the Lords
  • Peter Gibson (2019) → Tory Chairman’s Office
  • Neil O’Brien (2017) → promotion to Tory vice chairman
  • Damien Moore (2017) → Defra

The full list is available here

As part of the ongoing Lee Cain promotion row, one former minister told Paul Waugh “What is much more important is that they appoint someone, ideally an MP, to properly manage relations with the parliamentary party and sort that out because it is pretty poor.” Guido disagrees. There’s no doubt No. 10 needs to sort out Downing Street backbench relations, however the bad terms at the moment aren’t due to the lack of a chief of staff. That’s not to say a chief of staff who knew their way round the parliamentary party would not be an advantage.

One government source lays the blame largely at the door of Boris’s PPS appointments. While they’re a good way to plant the seeds of future ministers, their key role is liaising between ministers, departments and MPs. No. 10 has been lavishing appointments primarily on new-intake MPs and diverse ones at that. Crunching the numbers, Guido discovers over half – 53% – of all PPSs are now from the 2019 intake.

🏳️‍🌈 12.5% are LGBT, versus 5.5% of Tory MPs as a whole

✊🏾10% are BAME, versus 6% of Tory MPs as a whole

👩🏼‍💼43% are women, versus 40% of Tory MPs as a whole

Of the 2019 PPSs, those diversity figures are even more pronounced. Many Tory MPs Guido talks to are crying out for No. 10 to prioritise party relations over affirmative action

mdi-timer 11 November 2020 @ 17:08 11 Nov 2020 @ 17:08 mdi-twitter mdi-facebook mdi-whatsapp mdi-telegram mdi-linkedin mdi-email mdi-comment View Comments
Cain Calls for Ceasefire in War with Lobby

There was an odd mood in this morning’s No. 10 briefing awaiting Guido, with a much-depleted turnout. A conference call had been set up to allow Lobby correspondents to dial into the briefing, with around 19 choosing to do so. There’s a simple solution to Coronavirus forcing members of the Lobby into self-isolation: televise the briefings…

Entirely uniquely, however, was a pre-briefing talk given by Lee Cain, who formally called for a pause to the fractured relations between the Government and media that have arisen since January. Boris’s Director of Communications told attendees that this is an “unprecedented time” and “a difficult period for us all”, saying that the Government wants to “wipe the slate clean” and it “doesn’t matter who you work for/where you are on the political spectrum, praising the media for their responsible reporting of the virus.

Cain also said further conversations are needed, suggesting that No. 10 may ask a single representative from the Lobby to visit and chat with him and the PM’s spokesman on a semi-regular basis to “talk about how things may be done better, what is working” etc. There were lots of approvingly nodding heads…

Separate to the frank and seemingly friendly chat, Cain also indicated No. 10 are wanting to reduce footfall through the heart of Government to reduce the chance of Coronavirus spreading inside Downing Street. This may also mean the newly-instituted daily Coronavirus briefings see limited attendance from news outlets, with the Government having to look at the press being able to phone in questions. Guido notes the daily press briefings will be detailed, frank and televised – all without the sky falling in…

mdi-timer 16 March 2020 @ 12:48 16 Mar 2020 @ 12:48 mdi-twitter mdi-facebook mdi-whatsapp mdi-telegram mdi-linkedin mdi-email mdi-comment View Comments
No. 10 Launch SpAd Recruitment Website

The exponential rise in reporting on SpAds has finally culminated in a shake-up of recruitment ordered by No. 10, including the launch of spadjobs.uk, both to increase transparency in the recruitment process, and to encourage more corporate and professional appointments. Guido’s not sure Downing Street will attract corporate professionals with current SpAd pay grades…

It’s also been announced that all new appointments will be screened and vetted by the Conservative Party with the help of Hanbury Strategy (the consultancy co-founded by Vote Leave’s Paul Stephenson), before having a phone interview and an interview panel with Isaac Levido. Lee Cain will then have the final say. Guido spots the site was registered by the Tories on the 17th February – the day Andrew Sabisky resigned…

mdi-timer 27 February 2020 @ 15:31 27 Feb 2020 @ 15:31 mdi-twitter mdi-facebook mdi-whatsapp mdi-telegram mdi-linkedin mdi-email mdi-comment View Comments
Is The Times Trying to Frame Lee Cain?

The Times this morning had a story about about a million-a-year trader fired for stealing from the canteen. The picture was of Lee Cain, the Prime Minister’s Director of Communications and was probably the best press he’s had all week. Still not the worst picture mix-up of the day…

mdi-timer 4 February 2020 @ 16:59 4 Feb 2020 @ 16:59 mdi-twitter mdi-facebook mdi-whatsapp mdi-telegram mdi-linkedin mdi-email mdi-comment View Comments
Previous Page Next Page