Downing Street Hires Digital Communications Chief from LadBible

Peter Heneghan has joined the Cabinet Office in Downing Street as head of digital communications, he was formerly in a similar role at LADbible and before that Buzzfeed. If anyone should know how to reach that difficult to reach Leave-backing-lads demographic, it is this Irishman. Strictly speaking Heneghan is not a SpAd he is a civil servant, so we have not added him to the SpAd List.

SpAds have been listed by Guido in order of seniority. If any SpAds reading the list disagree with this hierarchy, feel free to send in your contracts for us to double check…

See the full list here: order-order.com/spads

All Calm in Downing Street


Dilyn and the Chancellor’s Bailey chilling harmoniously in Downing Street….

Meet Dilyn, the Downing Street Dog

Dilyn is Welsh for follow. Maybe some Tory MPs should take note…

May Rejected People’s PMQs

This week, Boris launched his ‘People’s PMQs’ allowing him to answer the public’s questions directly, in one of many examples of Downing Street getting on top of its PR and Coms operation since the new administration started. The People’s PMQs always looked like an obvious PR win, proved by the Facebook livestream receiving 230,000 views and overwhelmingly positive feedback. 

Guido hears from Downing Street aides that the ‘People’s PMQs’ idea was pitched to Theresa May months ago only for her to reject the proposal. Guido is hardly surprised to discover the Maybot missed what could have been an open PR goal…

Chicken Past Comes Home to Roost

The Daily Mirror reveals that Lee Cain, the long-time spinner for Boris who has been appointed as his Downing Street Director of Communications, used to dress up as the Mirror’s chicken to taunt the taunt the Tories in 2010. According to the Mirror he was pictured being led away by police as David Cameron and his wife Samantha looked on in the background. Guido called him last night for an eggs-planation but he refused to sqwawk…

Despite being given the chance to make a clean breast of it all, he refused to crack. Looking back, Cain pulled off quite a coup that we didn’t find out this nugget of information when Boris crossed the road to avoid a TV debate. The media would have roasted him…

At some point in a politico-media career everyone dons the chicken suit. It is the mark of someone who will hen-dure…

+++ Minister of State RESHUFFLE LIVE +++

15:42: Kevin Foster remains as a PUSS at the Wales Office and the Cabinet Office, and as a Government Whip

15:42: Chloe Smith remains as a PUSS at the Cabinet Office

15:42: Rebecca Pow remains as a PUSS at the DCMS

15:42: Guy Opperman remains as a PUSS at DWP

15:42: Will Quince remains as a PUSS at DWP

15:42: Nus Ghani remains as a PUSS at Transport, and an Assistant Government Whip

14:46: Nadhim Zahawi becomes a PUSS at BEIS.

14:46: Kelly Tolhurst remains as a PUSS at BEIS.

14:46: John Glen remains as Economic Secretary to the Treasury.

14:46: Graham Stuart remains as a PUSS at DIT.

14:46: Victoria Atkins remains as a PUSS at the Home Office, and as Minister for Women.

13:08: Baroness Williams remains at the Home Office, and as Minister for Equalities.

13:08: Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon remains at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office.

13:08: Lord Callanan remains at the Department for Exiting the European Union.

13:08: Baroness Goldie DL to the Ministry of Defence.

13:08: Michael Ellis becomes Solicitor General.

13:08: Lord Ashton of Hyde becomes Lords Chief Whip.

13:08: George Freeman to the Department for Transport.

13:08: Nick Hurd to the Northern Ireland Office. He remains Minister for London.

Friday 26/07

21:42 Chris Skidmore to Department of Health and Social Care

21:42 Chris Heaton Harris to Department of Transport

21:42 Caroline Dinenage stays at the Department of Health and Social Care

20:44 Andrew Stephenson to FCO

20:44 Andrew Murrison stays at FCO & DfID

20:44 Justin Tomlinson stays at DWP

20:16 Chris Pincher to Foreign and Commonwealth Office

20:16 Mark Lancaster stays at Ministry of Defence

20:01 Thérèse Coffey MP to DEFRA

20:01 George Eustice to DEFRA

19:33 Conor Burns MP is Minister for State at the Department for International Trade

18:59 Nick Gibb stays as Schools Minister

18:52 Kit Malthouse is the new Police Minister at the Home Office

18:38 Lucy Frazer is a Minister of State at the Ministry of Justice

18:38 Jesse Norman remains Financial Secretary to the Treasury

18:16 Nigel Adams gets DCMS Minister for Sport.

Updating as and when…

Boris Wants a Dog in Downing Street

Larry the Cat may have survived yesterday’s reshuffle, he’ll be having paws for thought today. Guido hears that Boris declared to an all-staff meeting in Downing Street that the war between Larry and Palmerston was over and he’d mews over what could be done about getting a dog. Could be a ruff deal for the Chief Mouser. As Harry Truman is supposed to have said, “If you want a friend in politics, get a dog”…

Number 10 Reckons May’s “Good Brexit Deal” Is Her Number One Achievement

In Number 10’s begging letter to MPs for friendly questions at tomorrow’s PMQs, extraordinarily they list Theresa May’s “good Brexit deal” as her number one achievement. Yikes.

Friday Caption Contest (Naughty May Edition)

Punters Demand Stewards Inquiry Over May’s Resignation Date Bets

Quite a lot of chatter over at PoliticalBetting.com over the resignation date of Theresa May. Barring something dramatic happening Theresa May will formally resign as Leader of the Conservative Party tomorrow, as the above official statement from the party chairman and the 1922 Committee makes clear. Seems straightforward.

Over on the Betfair exchange some £3,057,129 has been staked on the exact date of her exit on the UK – Party Leaders– Exit Dates – Theresa May” market. The small print in the bet market’s rules states:

Punters seeking clarification have now been told that this means when she leaves Downing Street – which is something completely different altogether. May will remain the Prime Minister in Downing Street for another month or so after she has resigned even though she is no longer the party leader. Punters who understood the Conservative Party’s rules are not happy. It’s clear the bookies are confusing the party leadership and the premiership…

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.”

Number 10’s Chequers Slides for MPs in Full

These are the slides Number 10 is using to try to convince MPs and Tory association chairmen of their Chequers plan. Convinced?

Baker: No.10 Blindsided Brexiters and Then Briefed Against Us

An excellent, must-watch interview with Steve Baker in which he explains why Theresa May must change her Brexit policy, reveals how Downing Street blindsided Dexeu and expresses righteous anger at Number 10 briefing against Brexiters. Leave Tory MPs – especially those being offered career advancement – should watch and listen…

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…

May Considers Asking to Stay in Single Market For Goods

The extremely well-connected Brexit wonk Charles Grant writes in the FT today that the government is considering asking to stay in the single market for goods. Guido also understands this is under active consideration in Number 10. Grant writes that this means de facto accepting ECJ rulings and EU rules and regulations, and potentially a compromise on free movement:

“The challenge, however, is that the EU would never agree to Britain being in the single market for goods unless it adopted all relevant rules, submitted to a punishment mechanism for any deviation, and accepted some oversight by the European Court of Justice… If the UK does request membership of the single market in goods, the EU’s initial reaction will be no. Michel Barnier, the European Commission’s chief negotiator, says the single market is “ binary” — you are either in all or none of it — and must involve free movement of labour.”

If we agree to become a rule-taker on goods and accept ECJ rulings, we are clearly not taking back control of laws. If we have full alignment with Brussels regulations on goods, that severely hampers our ability to strike trade deals with other countries – that is not taking back control of trade policy. If there is a compromise on free movement, that is not taking back control of borders. And it is unfathomable the EU would agree to all this without the UK making significant ongoing payments of vast sums to Brussels. That is not taking back control of money. Staying in the single market for goods crosses May’s own red lines, and goes miles beyond the red lines of Brexiters. 

Number 10 may have wagered that they can buy off Brexiters like Boris and Gove by agreeing to spend the Brexit dividend on the NHS (even though this is disingenuous and the NHS money is mostly tax rises). But surely there is no way Boris, Gove, Fox and Davis – or any Brexiter for that matter – could stay in the government if their red lines were rubbed out like this. This would be the softest of Brexits – Cabinet Leavers must stand up to Number 10 on this…

Julian Smith Must Hold Firm Against Isolated Grieve

Over the last 48 hours there has been speculation that the whips are going soft and considering a further compromise to Dominic Grieve ahead of tomorrow’s Commons vote.

Guido isn’t sure what else there is to concede on. Number 10 has given Remainers absolutely everything they want, short of the ability to stop Brexit entirely. We are heading towards a very ‘soft’ Brexit, closely aligned to Brussels. We are staying in a customs union for years after Brexiting, possibly longer. By the end of the negotiation, things might be even closer to the Hammond / Remainer vision of Brexit than that. Further concessions are not acceptable.

Remain MPs who Guido has spoken are increasingly unimpressed with the Grieve / Soubry / Hailsham attempt to block Brexit. Most Tory Remainers accept that Brexit has to happen, and that it would be a dangerous betrayal of democracy to allow Grieve and co to get their way. Indeed, Tory Remainers are privately accusing Grieve of dishonesty over his motives. His talk of blowing up the government went down spectacularly badly, too. At least Hailsham and the rebels in the Lords are honest about wanting to stop Brexit. 

How many Tory Remainers have come out to endorse Grieve’s plot to keep us in the EU this week? The likes of Nicky Morgan have been quiet for days. Julian Smith must hold firm, win round the majority of the more sensible Remain rebels, and see Grieve off tomorrow with no further concessions…

May Interviewed By Her Former Aide on LBC

Have to say the Number 10 press team have played a blinder this morning. First they got Marr to agree to an easy pre-record interview rather than a live. Then they got the BBC to lead all morning on the Brexit dividend rather than the fact that the money is actually coming from tax rises. And to complete the hat-trick they had May interviewed by her former head of broadcast Tom Swarbrick on LBC. He was working in Number 10 three months ago. Good day for British journalism… 

A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to Quebec

All the above photos are taken from Theresa May’s official Facebook page uploaded a few hours ago. Her and Phil apparently in the back of a Hercules flying to Quebec across the Atlantic, the Red Box strapped into the military transport, her thanking the pilot after arriving safely in Quebec. And then getting off an Airbus 330 Voyager kitted out for VIPs at a cost of many millions…

Hold on, the pictures above released on her official Facebook page show her roughing it in the back of a Hercules military transport. Yet Guido also has these pictures, showing Her Majesty’s Lobby holding power to account over some G&Ts in the luxurious surrounds of a VIP Airbus Voyager…

Are we being played? What is really going on?

UPDATE: Explanation from Number 10: She travelled to Canada on the Voyager, and then across Canada on a C130.

ERG MPs Tell May to Sack Robbins

Tory MPs in the ERG have told Theresa May to sack her Remainer Brexit adviser Olly Robbins. Representations have been made to the chief whip that Robbins’ Irish backstop is unacceptable and has put Number 10 on a course towards selling out on Brexit, and his position is no longer tenable. May has to choose whether she wants to persist with Robbins’ sellout plan that gives up on the opportunities of Brexit, or back down and agree with David Davis. It is difficult to see how both Robbins and DD can stay in the government if things carry on like this.

On the DD resignation rumours front, yesterday afternoon his allies were insistent that he would be staying. The mood worsened by the evening, with one friend of Davis putting the chances of him quitting at 50-50. This morning another ally of DD says he is considering his position. You have to wonder what Davis has to lose from quitting. If he backs down he will go down as the Brexit Secretary who didn’t make good on his threats and allowed Robbins’ Remainer Brexit. If Davis does resign, one ally says, May is “toast“. It’s DD-Day…

No. 10 Blocks Cabinet From Seeing Brexit White Paper

Theresa May has broken her deadline of publishing the government’s Brexit white paper this month after signalling it won’t now appear until after the EU summit this month. David Davis is kicking off and threatening a Cabinet protest. Guido understands the white paper is finished, ready and waiting to go but is being blocked by a combination of Number 10, the Treasury and HMRC.[…] Read the rest

+ READ MORE +

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Quote of the Day

Boris as Hulk…

‘Banner might be bound in manacles, but when provoked he would explode out of them. Hulk always escaped, no matter how tightly bound in he seemed to be – and that is the case for this country. We will come out on October 31 and we will get it done.’

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