November 24, 2020

What does Boris Johnsons chief of staff do, and who are the frontrunners? –

Henry Newman is well-known in Westminster, having spent most of his career working for Michael Gove as a special advisor. Mr Newman took a career break from Government to run the Open Europe think tank, but now works back in the Cabinet Office under the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster. As a close ally of Mr Gove, Mr Newman could fall naturally into step with a Eurosceptic Downing Street.

On Friday night, the field widened, with Kit Malthouse, a Home Office minister who worked with Mr Johnson in City Hall, reportedly putting his name forward to MPs for the role. Others said Will Walden, Mr Johnson’s ex-PR chief at City Hall, could be approached, as well as Tory peer Lord True.

What does the chief of staff do?

Chief of staff is a political appointment, with the office holder working closely with the Prime Minister on policy formation and government communications.

Downing Street’s chief of staff role was created when Tony Blair took office in 1997, and first held by Jonathan Powell, the only official to last the whole length of Mr Blair’s premiership. Perhaps the most well-known office holders are Nick Timothy and Fiona Hill from Theresa May’s time in office.

The pair are said to have had a fearsome reputation among Downing Street staff for their desire to control everything that happened in the building.