Civil Servants Troll Boris’s New Permanent Secretary

On Saturday The Times revealed Samantha Jones is planning on stripping dozens of senior staff of their desks in No. 10, moving them into the Cabinet Office. The paper reported one Whitehall source saying “No one is happy” and another who said morale among No. 10 staff is at “rock bottom” as staff face this latest shakeup alongside the police investigation. Guido suspects these miffed members of staff may not be speaking on everyone’s behalf…

Samantha Jones is now trying to turn morale around; for example, a new ‘smiley face system’ using push button “happiness machines” has been introduced to allow staff to show how happy they are:

That’s not all: Jones has also created a new section on the intranet called “Building hurrays!”. This pioneering HR strategy allows staff to leave anonymous praise for colleagues (and, in many cases, Larry the cat). Following Saturday’s Times story, one staffer quietly added a note of thanks to former legislative affairs head Nikki da Costa, who spent much of the weekend tweeting about how ill-conceived Jones’s idea is:

The trolling staffer wrote that da Costa should be thanked for “consistently speaking up for ordinary, hardworking but oft-ignored staff across No. 10″. It managed to stay up for a few days before someone higher up noticed and took it down…

Are the anti-Jones briefers any more than a noisy minority? Another No. 10 source defends the new permanent secretary describing her as a “comfort blanket and part of the solution. Not the problem”, citing her always having sweets on her desk for visitors. As a former nurse her allies praise her for pairing a bedside manner with a toughness built up via her stint in the IDF. Perhaps certain disgruntled staff will settle down when the Metropolitan Police get their questionnaire reviews out of the way…

mdi-timer 18 March 2022 @ 14:13 18 Mar 2022 @ 14:13 mdi-twitter mdi-facebook mdi-whatsapp mdi-telegram mdi-linkedin mdi-email mdi-comment View Comments
Government’s Breakneck Timetable for Brexit Bill

Even though it feels like it has been dragging on forever the legislative pace for the Withdrawal Agreement Bill is quite compressed. Recently resigned former Downing Street Director of Legislative Affairs, Nikki da Costa, has written an eviscerating thread running through the incredibly tight timetable the Government faces.

“Supposing the deal passes, you then introduce the WAB [Withdrawal Agreement Bill] straight away. And supposing you use EU Withdrawal Act as a template for how much time for scrutiny – then you need 13 days in the Commons and close to 20 in the Lords and 4 in ping-pong. 37 days.

Not including Fridays by my count from 21 January, and if you still allow for a February recess, there are only 36 sitting days.”

The later the Government leaves the meaningful vote, the less scrutiny there will be on the Withdrawal Agreement Bill. Today Andrea Leadsom confirmed that the meaningful vote will not happen until next year!

On top of this, the deadline could be squeezed even further, as 21st January is only the deadline in law if a deal has not been reached, and the Government told the House on 26 November that a deal has been reached.  We are heading towards historically low scrutiny on an historically important Bill…

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mdi-timer 13 December 2018 @ 11:16 13 Dec 2018 @ 11:16 mdi-twitter mdi-facebook mdi-whatsapp mdi-telegram mdi-linkedin mdi-email mdi-comment View Comments
Resignation in Downing Street

Guido understands that Nikki Da Costa, Downing Street’s director of legislative affairs has resigned. The position was created last year to deal with the difficulties of pushing through tricky legislation without a majority in the Commons. Her main focus was coordinating legislation in Parliament to ensure passage of both Brexit and domestic bills. When Guido contacted her this morning she was very flustered and directed questions to the PM’s press secretary. One can hardly blame Nikki for not wanting to try to navigate this deal through parliament…

UPDATE: Nikki Da Costa has issued a terse on-the-record line “It has been an honour to serve the PM and I have huge respect for her. This decision was very hard.”

mdi-timer 15 November 2018 @ 08:49 15 Nov 2018 @ 08:49 mdi-twitter mdi-facebook mdi-whatsapp mdi-telegram mdi-linkedin mdi-email mdi-comment View Comments