Peter Cardwell, who was a special adviser for four cabinet ministers under Theresa May and Boris Johnson until he was sacked in the reshuffle at the start of this year, told the Today programme the current No 10 was not functioning well. He told the programme
We were hearing from Jon Sopel earlier about the experience, competence and political agility of Ron Klain, Joe Biden’s new chief of staff. Those are not attributes that Downing Street could be accused of at the moment.
I think you can’t underestimate the extent to which the backbenchers in the Conservative party are very concerned at how bad relations with No 10 are. That needs to be sorted, and sorted soon.
In a statement on the No 10 infighting, Kirsten Oswald, the SNP’s deputy leader at Westminster, said:
The fact that Boris Johnson’s most senior political advisers are busy waging a Tory civil war over their highly paid, taxpayer-funded positions, while the UK is hit by the worst health and economic crisis in decades, tells you everything you need to know about this arrogant, incompetent and self-serving Tory government. It’s a total shambles – they would be ashamed if they had a shred of decency.
Robert Jenrick, the communities secretary, was doing the morning broadcast round for Downing Street this morning. He rejected claims that the government was distracted by the row about the post of chief of staff. He said:
It’s understandable that journalists, in particular, will be interested in the personalities of who works as advisers within Number 10 Downing Street.
But the prime minister runs the government. He is surrounded by a good team, a strong team of advisers, and, of course, the cabinet.
Our sole focus in government is trying to steer the country through the pandemic.
Sir Charles Walker, a vice chair of the backbench Conservative 1922 Committee, told the Today programme this morning, that Boris Johnson should appoint a chief of staff with good relations with Conservative MPs. He said:
I think there has been unhappiness about the Number 10 operation for some time.
Members of parliament have felt excluded from the decision-making process, and that’s no secret.
The real opportunity here is for the chief of staff position to be filled by someone who has good links with the Conservative party and its representation in the House of Commons.
Dominic Cummings has done little to disguise his general lack of respect for MPs, and one reason why the parliamentary party was opposed to the appointment of Lee Cain as chief of staff was because they feared this contemptuous attitude towards them would become further entrenched.
Dominic Cummings has arrived at No 10, the BBC’s Chris Mason reports.
Dominic Cummings, Boris Johnson’s most important adviser and a close ally of Lee Cain’s, did not respond to reporters outside his home this morning when asked if he too would be resigning. Cummings is the effective head of the dominant Vote Leave faction in No 10 and Cain’s departure suggests they are losing influence.
Last night there were reports that Cummings was considering resignation. But this morning that is being denied, and there is speculation that the resignation briefing was part of a (failed) attempt to persuade Johnson to keep Cain.
According to PA Media, Cummings left his home this morning “in a black cab before getting out and walking back down the street to return home”. Cummings then left home again in a silver car, PA Media reports.
In an interview on the Today programme Guto Harri, who worked as Boris Johnson’s communications director in his first four years as London mayor, welcomed the departure of Lee Cain as evidence that Johnson was now less dependent on his tribal, aggressive Vote Leave advisers. Harri claimed that able people had been reluctant to work for No 10 because they thought they would have to answer to Dominic Cummings.
Harri praised the appointment of Allegra Stratton as Johnson’s press secretary, saying she was “highly effective”. He went on:
By having someone in the room for just a few weeks that reminds him what intelligent, thoughtful, competent people look like, it may have reminded the prime minister that the people in the room without her are not up to it. And it’s about time that he got more people like Allegra Stratton in the room to make sure that this government gets back on track.
Britain’s economy grew at a record quarterly rate of more than 15% as lockdown restrictions were eased in the summer but the recovery has now petered out, my colleague Larry Elliott reports.
For the record, here is the statement that Lee Cain issued last night announcing his resignation as Boris Johnson’s director of communications.
After careful consideration I have this evening resigned as No 10 director of communications and will leave the post at the end of the year.
It has been a privilege to work as an adviser for Mr Johnson for the last three years – being part of a team that helped him win the Tory leadership contest, secure the largest Conservative majority for three decades – and it was an honour to be asked to serve as the prime minister’s chief of staff.
I would like to thank all the team at No 10 – including the many unsung and incredibly talented civil servants – for their hard work and support during the last 18 months.
And most of all I would like to thank the prime minister for his loyalty and leadership. I have no doubt that under his premiership the country will deliver on the promises made in the 2019 election campaign and build back better from the coronavirus pandemic.
Cain says he was invited to be Johnson’s chief of staff. What he does not say is that the offer subsequently seems to have been withdrawn, following a fierce and successful backlash involving Conservative MP, Allegra Stratton, the new press secretary, other aides, and Carrie Symonds, the PM’s fiancee. This means that Cain now joins a remarkably long list of people who have discovered that an offer or promise from Johnson is not always quite what it seems.
For the record, here is Johnson’s response.
I want to thank Lee for his extraordinary service to the government over the last four years.
He has been a true ally and friend and I am very glad that he will remain director of communications until the new year and to help restructure the operation. He will be much missed.
These are from the BBC’s Chris Mason, who has been in No 10 this morning.
Good morning. You might be wondering why the media is spending so much time obsessing about the departure of a No 10 communications chief when England is in lockdown, the pandemic is raging and the UK has just become the first country in Europe to record more than 50,000 Covid deaths, reinforcing claims that its handling of the virus has been relatively feebly by international standards.
But they are, of course, related. Why do you think the government’s handling of coronavirus has been flawed? Who was supposed to be in charge? Has having a dysfunctional Downing Street helped?
Here is my colleague Jessica Elgot’s overnight story about the resignation of Lee Cain.
And this is what Sir Keir Starmer, the Labour leader, had to say about the row leading to Cain’s departure on LBC this morning.
This is pathetic. I think millions of people will be waking up this morning, scratching their heads, saying what on earth is going on?
We’re in the middle of a pandemic, we’re all worried about our health and our families, we’re all worried about our jobs, and this lot are squabbling behind the door of number ten.
It’s pathetic. Pull yourselves together, focus on the job in hand.
Here is the agenda for the day.
9.30am: Michael Gove, the Cabinet Office minister, takes questions in the Commons.
9.30am: NHS England publishes monthly waiting time and other performance figures.
9.30am: The ONS publishes figures on the economic impact of coronavirus.
11am: NHS test and trace publishes its weekly performance figures.
11am: Philip Hammond, the former chancellor, speaks at the launch of a Resolution Foundation report into repairing the public finances.
12.20pm: Nicola Sturgeon takes first minister’s questions in the Scottish parliament.
Afternoon: Downing Street is expected to hold a press conference.
Politics Live is now doubling up as the UK coronavirus live blog and, given the way the Covid crisis eclipses everything, this will continue for the foreseeable future. But we will be covering non-Covid political stories too, like the Downing Street chief of staff row, and when they seem more important or more interesting, they will take precedence.
Here is our global coronavirus live blog.
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Read the original article at The Guardian