By Paul Goodman
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Tim Montgomerie yesterday offered congratulations to George Osborne, and commiserations to Policy Exchange, on respectively gaining and losing Neil O'Brien. Seconded. As Tim wrote, "Team Cameron is succeeding in recruiting the calibre of people that it needs to maximise its effectiveness".
But it's significant that Neil is joining Team Osborne as well as Team Cameron. Indeed, he is moving to the Treasury as one of the Chancellor's Special Advisers, and not to Downing Street.
His appointment thus follows another twitch of a tentacle from the Octopus Chancellor, as I can't help but think of him. It follows that of Lynton Crosby – and if Mr Osborne wasn't happy with Mr Crosby's new role, it wouldn't have been approved. After the last reshuffle, I ran through a list of some of the Ministers that the Chancellor will have helped put in place. Here it is again.
- Matthew Hancock at Business – tasked, with Michael Fallon, to keep an eye on Vince Cable.
- Nicholas Boles at CLG – whose mission it is to get more housebuilding going, fast, as we have seen this week.
- Patrick McLoughlin at Transport – though not the Chancellor's man by any means, he doesn't have a record of campaigning against Heathrow expansion, which his predecessor in the post, Justine Greening, did, and which Mr Osborne looks on favourably.
- Mark Hoban at Work and Pensions – who must help to find £10 billion of savings, though there is much more to his job as Employment Minister than simply ferretting out money.
- Andrew Mitchell at…whoops, apologies for that one. But Greg Hands, Mr Osborne's energetic former PPS, is still in the Whip's Office.
- ConservativeHome columnist Greg Clark has been hauled into the Treasury, while Sajid Javid has been promoted to the role of Economic Secretary. And Elizabeth Truss's working women-friendly outlook at Education will mirror the Chancellor's.