Prime Minister promises upgrades at No. 10 with new faces in senior roles

Boris Johnson has moved to shore up his 10th deal by announcing two new appointments to senior positions at Downing Street.

The prime minister said Duchy of Lancaster Chancellor Steve Barclay will become Johnson’s chief of staff, while journalist Guto Harri will become director of communications.

It comes after Johnson lost five of his Downing Street aides in the space of 24 hours on Thursday and Friday, when more MPs sent letters calling for a motion of no confidence in their leader.

10 Downing Street, London (Yui Mok/PA)

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The most painful departure was that of Munira Mirza, who had worked for Johnson for more than a decade.

The policy chief resigned on Thursday with a damning letter criticizing Johnson for his use of a “libelous” slur against Labor leader Sir Keir Starmer for failing to prosecute Jimmy Savile.

The resignations of communications director Jack Doyle, chief of staff Dan Rosenfield, principal private secretary Martin Reynolds and special adviser in the policy unit Elena Narozanski followed.

The Sunday Times also reported on Saturday that special adviser Henry Newman, a friend of the prime minister’s wife, Carrie, would be leaving Number 10 and likely returning to work with his old boss, Michael Gove.

Newman may be embroiled in the party scandal, after reports suggested he had allegedly attended a party at the flat shared by Mr and Mrs Johnson during the Covid measures.

No 10 said Barclay’s role, which he will combine with his job at the Cabinet Office, would include being “in charge of integrating the new Prime Minister’s Office and the Cabinet Office, driving the Government’s agenda more efficiently and ensuring make it better.” aligned with the Cabinet and the deputies”.

Harri was Johnson’s spokesman and chief of staff during his first term as Mayor of London.

The former BBC journalist resigned from GB News last year following a dispute over him taking a knee during a debate about racism directed towards England football players.

Although he is considered an ally of Johnson, he has been critical of the prime minister, calling him a “hugely divisive figure.”

Johnson said: “This week I promised changes, so that we can continue the work that the British public chose us to do.

“We need to continue our recovery from the pandemic, help hundreds of thousands more people get jobs, and deliver on our ambitious agenda to bring the entire country to a level, improving opportunities for people no matter where they are from.

“The changes I am announcing to my senior team today will improve the way No. 10 operates, strengthen the role of my cabinet and banking colleagues, and accelerate our defining mission of leveling the country.”

Prime Minister Boris Johnson during a visit to the technology center at Hopwood Hall College in Manchester (Jason Cairnduff/PA)

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More announcements are expected in the coming days with what No 10 said would be a “particular focus on improving engagement and liaison with MPs”.

It had already been announced that Conservative MP Andrew Griffith would replace Ms Mirza.

The changes came too late for some MPs, however, as 15 Conservatives have now publicly called for Johnson to resign, with the number expected to be more privately.

Wimbledon MP Stephen Hammond was asked on BBC Radio 4 if it was “the beginning of the end” for the prime minister, saying: “It certainly looks like that at the moment.”

On Friday, former minister Nick Gibb became the latest Conservative to say Johnson had to be replaced.

Writing in The Telegraph, Gibb, MP for Bognor Regis and Littlehampton, said his constituents were “furious at double standards” and said the prime minister had been “inaccurate” in remarks to the House of Commons.

He said: “The Prime Minister has accepted Allegra Stratton’s resignation for joking about a Christmas party she did not attend, but will not take responsibility for those she did attend. I am sorry to say that it is difficult to see how the Prime Minister could have told the truth.”

The MP said: “To restore confidence, we need to change the Prime Minister.”

Backbencher Aaron Bell (Newcastle-under-Lyme) also stated publicly that he had submitted a letter asking for a vote of no confidence in his leader.

John Glen, Chancellor of the Exchequer and MP for Salisbury, said the situation with No 10 was “deeply uncomfortable, disappointing and embarrassing”.

Writing in his local newspaper The Salisbury Journal, he did not call for the Prime Minister’s resignation, but said: “The culture at Number 10 fell short of what the country had a right to expect, and responsibility for mistakes must be taken.” that were committed done.”

But Culture Secretary Nadine Dorries launched an impassioned defense of the prime minister, stating that 97% of Conservative MPs supported Johnson.

She told Times Radio: “There are a small number of voices, whether they are people who were ardent supporters of Remain, who see this as their last chance to reverse Brexit.”

Of the 15 Conservative MPs who have so far publicly called on Boris Johnson to leave, only seven of them had publicly backed remaining in the EU in the 2016 referendum.

One of those who has said the prime minister should go is David Davis, who served as Brexit secretary, and another is strident Brexiteer Andrew Bridgen.

However, Hammond disputed this, saying, “I think as far as I can see the people who have so far stated that they have written a letter are from all wings of the party and none.”

Ms Dorries admitted “there are actually a number of reasons, it’s not just one”, but said: “That’s certainly in play with a group.”

He also insisted that Johnson was telling the truth “to the best of his knowledge” based on what his aides told him.

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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