Saj Hires Olivia Robey

Guido can reveal Olivia Robey has been hired as Sajid Javid’s new Special Adviser. Robey is a rising star in Tory circles, she was the former head of CCHQ’s political section before being made a director at the well-connected PR agency Hanbury Strategy. She will be starting shortly as a policy adviser with responsibility for crime, vulnerability and policing. A savvy appointment from Saj and a much-needed hire to strengthen his team following his move to the Home Office. Congratulations…

Let Guido know any updates

SpAd Moves: Amy Fisher Director of External Affairs at CCHQ

Guido can bring you another SpAd move: Amy Fisher is going back to CCHQ as their new director of external affairs, outreach and special projects. Amy was most recently SpAd to Amber Rudd at the Home Office. Congratulations… 

Last time round we forgot to mention that former MP Lee Scott is going to work for James Brokenshire. Full list:

Let Guido know any updates

Bright Blue’s Laura Round to DFID

Guido hears Penny Mordaunt has nabbed Bright Blue comms chief Laura Round as her new SpAd at DFID. Round has helped put the wet Tory think tank Bright Blue on the map over the last couple of years, it seemed inevitable she would jump over to government at some point and this will be a good fit. She will be doing both policy and comms and replaces the departing Richard Parr. A relatively rare SpAd hire from Tory wonk world…

Meanwhile, the new Home Secretary Sajid Javid has taken his SpAds Salma Shah, James Hedgeland and Samuel Coates with him to the Home Office. Peter Cardwell, who only joined the Home Office recently, heads to Housing with James Brokenshire.

Let Guido know any updates

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

Exitism: Labour HQ Departures Ahead of Formby

Ahead of the appointment of Jennie Formby as the Labour Party’s general-secretary, some long-standing HQ staff are jumping before they are pushed out. Exitism from the party by long-standing moderate activists is also on the rise as the once entryist crypto-commies and toytown trots are welcomed into the party by Corbyn…

John Stolliday, Director of Governance and Legal is off, as the ‘compliance unit’ boss he will be quitting before he inevitably gets pushed out. The PLP secretary Dan Simpson is also quitting. Along with the outgoing general secretary Iain McNicol; Patrick Heneghan,Tracey Allen, Julie Lawrence, Neil Fleming and Emilie Oldknow are going.

Most will be gone after the May local elections. If Chuka is going to launch his centre party he’ll have some experienced operators available to hire…

UPDATE: Simon Jackson, Labour’s Director of Policy And Research, has quit today.

Hat-tip: Paul Waugh

Latest SpAd Movements

Guido can bring you a few new SpAd movements. James Wild, formerly Michael Fallon’s SpAd at MoD, is back in government as Chief of Staff to David Lidington at the Cabinet Office. This is a new post created to reflect Lidders’ role on Brexit and domestic policy. Dylan Sharpe is stepping in as the new Number 10 Head of Broadcast following Tom Swarbrick’s departure last week. Paul Holmes, also formerly with Damian Green, is now filling in at DfE.

Let us know any updates here

Sir Cover-Up, Sir Craig and the Curious Case of His Memoirs

The rules for a former Special Adviser wanting to write a book on their time in government are very clear: Sir Jeremy Heywood must give his personal approval. As the Code of Conduct for SpAds states: “The permission of the Cabinet Secretary must be sought before publishing, or entering into a contractual commitment to publish such memoirs”. Sir Craig Oliver’s memoirs, then, must have secured Heywood’s approval before the book deal was signed. Yet a year-long Freedom of Information campaign raises questions as to whether the rules were followed…

Sir Craig’s book is full of privileged information. It discusses the contents of a phone call between David Cameron and Barack Obama (pages 62-63). It discusses the contents of various Cabinet meetings (pages 95-96, pages 376-379). It discusses the contents of a meeting between Obama and the Cabinet (pages 196-197). Now, it has consistently been government policy, championed by Heywood, not to release details of conversations between the PM and US Presidents, or to release details of Cabinet discussions. A co-conspirator tested this by sending a very specific FoI request seeking the exact same information published in Sir Craig’s book. The Cabinet Office refused to disclose it on grounds of “prejudicing relations between the UK and any other State” and protecting Cabinet privacy.

So the Cabinet Office is on record that releasing this specific information could prejudice relations with the US. Why, then, was Sir Craig allowed to publish it?

Guido’s co-conspirator has spent the last year trying to find out. On 3 November 2016, in response to another FoI request, the Cabinet Office said Sir Craig “followed the process for publishing personal memoirs as set out in the Code of Conduct for Special Advisers”. In other words, nothing to see here.

Yet eight months later, in response to an internal review of the FoI response, on 27 July 2017 the Cabinet Office was forced to admit it “does not hold any recorded information to show there was a discussion prior to Mr Oliver signing a contract with a publisher”.

Hang on a minute. If there is no record in the Cabinet Office of any discussion prior to Sir Craig signing his book deal, how can he have possibly “followed the process” which requires “the permission of the Cabinet Secretary” before “entering into a contractual commitment”Uh oh…

The Cabinet Office say Sir Craig did submit his manuscript before publication, meaning Heywood could have prevented the release of restricted information but chose not to do so. This all raises several questions. First, Sir Craig could be in big trouble if the rules on securing permission before signing a book deal were not followed, as the Cabinet Office appeared to admit. Indeed the government has seized the profits of books which breached the rules before – an outcome which definitely wouldn’t be hilarious. Secondly, if Heywood did sign the book off prior to publication, why did he sanction the release of privileged information that the Cabinet Office says “prejudices relations” between the UK and US? It is hard to see how Sir Craig and Sir Cover-Up can both have kept to the rules. This could unleash some demons…

Policy Exchange Pinch SpAd to Head Relaunch

Guido hears Gavin Williamson’s SpAd Rupert Oldham-Reid is departing to become Policy Exchange’s new director of research and strategy. PX is relaunching its domestic policy work after spending the last couple of years focusing on extremism, counter-terrorism and foreign policy. Oldham-Reid has been with the Chief Whip for the past year, before which he was a wonk at the Charity Commission and Centre for Social Justice. There is obviously a policy vacuum on the centre-right at the moment, it has often been said that Theresa May doesn’t have a think tank and the ideas currently exciting voters are coming from the left. Polling today revealing widespread public support for mass nationalisation shows the work that needs to be done. PX is talking up its relationship with Theresa May, whether she is bold enough to embrace new vote-winning policies is another question…

SpAd Movements: Gove Hires Vote Leaver

Guido hears Michael Gove has signed up Vote Leave alumnus James Starkie as his new media SpAd. Starkie was a soldier of the referendum, he ran regional press for the Leave campaign before joining Portland to work on their Brexit unit. He replaces Lee Cain who has gone to Number 10. Starkie is a true believer, good to see a new SpAd appointed who actually voted Leave…

Send any updates here

Hammond Hires Sky’s Giles Winn

Guido understands Philip Hammond has hired Sky News’ Giles Winn as his new media SpAd in the Treasury. He will be working alongside his former Sky colleague Poppy Trowbridge. Winn was the editor of Murnaghan and then in charge of interviews at Sky – it’s another example of the government mopping up experienced broadcast veterans from the Sunday shows. He also knows pretty much every Tory MP and Lobby hack since he’s booked most of them for interviews, which can only help. Winn had been set to join PR outfit Pagefield so it’s a bit of a coup for the Treasury to steal him away. This morning’s reports of a Brexit victory for the Chancellor may have been exaggerated, no arguments that this is a Winn for Hammond…

Stewart Jackson Tapped For Davis Job

Guido hears ousted MP Stewart Jackson is in talks to become David Davis’ chief of staff in the Brexit department. Davis is yet to replace his departed spinner James Chapman, an arch-Remainer who has nonetheless left former colleagues perplexed at his relentless determination to damage the government. Several Tory aides have been approached for the job at DExEU. The Brexit Secretary is believed to want a fully on board chief of staff to fulfil a wider ranging role, rather than a reluctant media SpAd misfit. Guido understands talks have been held with Jackson, DD’s PPS before he lost his seat at the election, potentially taking the job. Stewart is as sound as they come, a true believer. His appointment would calm the nerves of Brexiters and focus minds among civil servants at DExEU. Something which needs to happen as soon as possible…

Number 10 Chaos: May Has 8 Fewer SpAds Than Pre-Election

There is chaos in Downing Street: no hierarchy, little communication, humiliation at the hands of the DUP and an embarrassing exodus of top-ranking staff. Number 10 policy chief John Godfrey, one of May’s more senior aides, is the latest to quit.

The full list of Number 10 advisers who have left or are on their way out: Fiona Hill, Nick Timothy, John Godfrey, Katie Perrior, Lizzie Loudon, Chris Brannigan, Will Tanner, Alex Burghart, Neil O’Brien and Chris Hopkins. By Guido’s count May has just 22 SpAds in Downing Street, eight fewer than before the election…

Get in touch with any updates to our SpAd list…

Another No.10 Departure: Iraq War Hero Out

Yesterday Guido told you how the government is understaffed at SpAd level, with Downing Street in particular needing reinforcements after a spate of departures. Here’s another vacancy: a source confirms Chris Brannigan, an Iraq War hero who was the Director of Government Relations at Number 10, is also out. He was the PM’s big business point man. By Guido’s count May now has just 24 advisers, quite a lot fewer than before the election.

If you know of any other updates, let Guido know

Government Understaffed: Key SpAd Vacancies Up For Grabs

Guido has started to put together his SpAd List. We are still some way off appointments being signed off, though there are no Nick and Fi around this time to veto anyone who might show original thought. Number 10 has signed up DCMS SpAd and former Sun man Craig Woodhouse to do press – a much-need hire – though the PM is still without a Director of Communications. May has a lot of appointments to make following the departures of Timothy, Hill, Katie Perrior, Lizzie Loudon, Will Tanner, Alex Burghart and Neil O’Brien. In the Treasury, Philip Hammond has to replace his top SpAds Graham Hook and Hayden Allan. Michael Fallon has vacancies. There is a big media SpAd vacancy for David Davis after James Chapman left – Guido hears DD sounded out several potential candidates during the election campaign but has yet to make an appointment. Tough gig…

If you are a SpAd who has left the government or been promoted or appointed, or if you know of any further moves, get in touch. Guido will post updates as we get them…

Nick Timothy: Brexit Still Has to Mean Brexit

Nick Timothy might be out of Downing Street but he is almost certainly still advising Theresa May off the books. Many MPs are convinced he will just be emailing her from his Gmail account rather than his Number 10 address. Timothy was a Brexiter, one of the sounder people in May’s team on Europe, and had consistently argued to the boss and Cabinet that a real Brexit had to mean leaving the ECJ, single market and customs union. In an article for the Speccie today, he outlines what the PM has to do to fulfil her promise that Brexit means Brexit:

“Skilful leadership may deliver stability, but the absence of an overall majority means the nature of the Brexit deal the government negotiates is more uncertain. There has long been talk of a choice between ‘hard’ and ‘soft’ forms of Brexit, with the latter requiring membership of the EU’s single market. Since that would involve accepting the jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice, vast annual membership payments to the EU, and the continuation of free movement rules, people who voted to leave the European Union might wonder whether advocates of a ‘soft’ departure really do understand that Brexit means Brexit.”

Many Leave Tory MPs who hated Timothy’s manifesto were apprehensive about him leaving Number 10 due to his strong commitment to a real Brexit. They will be hoping Theresa is still listening to him…

Farron Loses Top Spinner

Guido understands Tim Farron’s top spinner Paul Butters is leaving. This will be a major loss to the LibDem leader, Butters is a page lead wizard with a journalist’s mind who was single-handedly responsible for getting his boss’ name in the paper over the last couple of years. His instantly recognisable catchphrase “mate” will be missed by Lobby hacks struggling for stories in the Red Lion. This election really was the massacre of the contacts…

Tory SpAd Voted For Corbyn

It seems the Corbynista contagion permeated the minds of young Tory voters too. Remarkably, and to the bafflement of her former colleagues, it emerges that Stephen Crabb’s ex SpAd Emily Poole voted for Jeremy Corbyn. In a post on her blog, Emily, who worked in both Cameron governments, mourned the demise of Dave’s “cuddly Conservatism” and backed Jez:

“In response to the inevitable question, “but how can you vote Labour though? Jeremy Corbyn is useless/a communist/a terrorist sympathiser”: I’m not saying I think Jeremy Corbyn would make a good Prime Minister. But guess what? The situation we’re currently in isn’t very good either. The NHS is in crisis, our national security is already at risk, first-time buyers haven’t got a hope in hell of saving enough money to own a property and good school places are harder to come by than a Jane Austen £5 note. Do I care whether Jeremy Corbyn would or wouldn’t press the red button? Well why don’t we all just work on the assumption that we’re pretty screwed if we get to that point anyway?”

Red Tory…

Nick and Fi Resign

Nick Timothy out:

“I take responsibility for my part in this election campaign, which was the oversight of our policy programme. In particular, I regret the decision not to include in the manifesto a ceiling as well as a floor in our proposal to help meet the increasing cost of social care. But I would like to make clear that the bizarre media reports about my own role in the policy’s inclusion are wrong: it had been the subject of many months of work within Whitehall, and it was not my personal pet project. I chose not to rebut these reports as they were published, as to have done so would have been a distraction for the campaign. But I take responsibility for the content of the whole manifesto, which I continue to believe is an honest and strong programme for government.”

Read his whole article on ConHome.

A Tory spokesman says Fiona Hill has resigned too. May now all alone in Number 10 without the aides upon whom she depended…

Hammond Loses Another SpAd

Philip Hammond’s long-serving Special Adviser Graham Hook has left government. Hook, a dependable and highly-experienced Whitehall veteran who has worked across four departments, served under Hammond since 2012 and will be a major loss to the Chancellor. Guido hears he left in May and has joined the Investment Association. This is the second major SpAd departure from the Treasury after Hayden Allan left in April. Does not bode well for Hammond ahead of the post-election reshuffle…

Davis SpAd Chappers Out

Was always a bit of an odd move for Chappers to go from Project Fear to the Brexit department.[…] Read the rest

+ READ MORE +



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Quote of the Day

A senior Brexiter:

“If Theresa and Julian have sold us out here they are in real trouble. She reassured us all at the 1922. There is no way she can recover if she has now fucked us over.”

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