Johnson’s Downing Street

Written by Newgate’s Public Affairs team

The Johnson administration will be materially different to Theresa May’s – that goes without saying. Gone are the days of a Prime Minister working closely with one or two close advisers and shutting everyone else out.  Under Johnson, we have a much more powerful Downing Street machine, filled with big personalities with big ideas.

Johnson has brought together advisers from two of his previous lives, his time as Mayor of London and as the leading figure of the Vote Leave campaign. Our view is that Boris will act more as a chairman, setting the general direction and priorities and letting his lieutenants have relatively free rein.

On the City Hall side, Sir Eddie Lister will be his chief of staff. Serving under him will then be three deputies – Liam Booth-Smith, Ben Gascoigne and James Wild – all bringing with them serious political experience.

Munira Mirza is slated to run the Number 10 policy unit, after being his Deputy Mayor for Education and Culture. And Will Walden, his former communications director from that time, is on the scene, though it’s unclear if he’ll stay for the long-term.

From the Vote Leave campaign, Dominic Cummings is the most noteworthy (and perhaps controversial) appointment. Lee Cain, Rob Oxley and Lucia Hodgson are also all former Vote Leave staffers who’ll help their new boss attempt to successfully exit the EU.   Note too that Matthew Elliot, who ran Vote Leave with Cummings, is the new Chancellor’s Special Adviser.

There are, however, a couple without major ties to either; David Frost, who will be his EU Sherpa, and Andrew Griffith, a senior Sky executive who will become a business czar.

The absolute focus of the Cabinet would appear to be delivering Brexit at the end of October – and preparing to fight an election.  If this administration can survive till 31 October and get the country out of the EU on that date, the whole political landscape will be transformed; the Brexit Party will be neutralised, uniting the right and centre-right – and the Conservatives will be confident of victory, with the opposition vote divided between Labour and the Liberal Democrats.

The biggest question today, however, is if and how the new government survives given the fact that it now has virtually no majority in Parliament, even with the support of the DUP.  Johnson has assembled a very strong team in Downing Street and a Cabinet with a clear purpose but its political position is still incredibly weak.

We’ll be outlining in more detail over the coming days what this means for specific sectors.

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