Whilst a lot of attention has been payed to Boris Johnson’s dramatic reshuffle, just as important will be the changing of the guard going on behind the scenes.
Bearing that in mind, we had a scout about to see who might be some of the most significant advisers and officers to the new administration, listed below in alphabetical order.
- Liam Booth-Smith: A special adviser to James Brokenshire, the Housing Secretary, Booth-Smith has a think-tank background. He was Chief Executive of ‘neo-localist’ think-tank Localis, prior to which he served Head of Research and Communications at iMPOWER and Head of Comms at the New Local Government Network.
- Dominic Cummings: Definitely the most surprising appointment, the former Campaign Director of Vote Leave will be joining the team as a senior adviser – “every political aide across the government” will report to him, if The Times is to be believed. His appointment gives a definite sense that this will be the continuity-VL administration Johnson planned in 2016.
- Nikki da Costa: Formerly Theresa May’s Director of Legislative Affairs, she left that role due to differences of opinion over strategy. Possessed of aggressive instincts, a deep-rooted constitutional conservatism, and one of the best understandings of parliamentary arcana in Westminster, her return augers well for those hoping for a more assertive approach to Brexit. She does however have a very low opinion of Julian Smith, which might get tricky if the Government needs to handle lots of complex Northern Irish business.
- Lee Cain: Apparently set to join as Director of Communications, Cain is a long-time Johnson staffer who worked with him at the Foreign Office. Prior to that he has worked with several ministers, including as a spad for Andrea Leadsom, and was Head of Broadcast at Vote Leave. His professional background is as a newspaper journalist.
- Matthew Elliott: Formerly Chief Executive of Vote Leave and the founder of the TaxPayers’ Alliance, Elliott is joining Sajid Javid’s team at the Treasury after captaining the now-Chancellor’s leadership bid.
- Ben Gascoigne: Another adviser to Johnson during his spell as Foreign Secretary, Gascoigne is apparently set to be another of Lister’s deputies and will “guard the diary”. He also previously worked on the public affairs team of the consultancy Grayling, and with Johnson whilst the latter was Mayor of London.
- Andrew Griffith: A senior executive at Sky, Griffith will join Johnson’s team as senior business adviser. His mandate will be to heal relations with businesses angered by the Prime Minister’s “f*ck business” comments. He lent his townhouse as a makeshift base for the leadership campaign.
- Lucia Hodgson: Reportedly being lined up as Deputy Press Secretary. Formerly a spad to Andrea Leadsom, and prior to that a government speechwriter across several departments including DEFRA, DfE, and DCLG.
- Oliver Lewis: Another Vote Leave veteran – he was Research Director – Lewis now joins the Government operation as an adviser on Brexit policy.
- Sir Eddie Lister: In charge of Wandsworth, Margaret Thatcher’s flagship council, for 19 years, Sir Edward is on leave as chairman of Homes England to head up Johnson’s transition team. He is reportedly expected to serve in a chief-of-staff role “for about eight months”.
- Munira Mirza: An academic by training, Mirza has been brought in by Johnson to head up the Number 10 Policy Unit. She previously served him as Deputy Mayor for Education and Culture whilst he was at City Hall, and was once floated by the New Statesman as a possible contender for the Tory candidacy in 2020. Mirza previously worked for Policy Exchange, and has published a book on the politics of culture.
- Rob Oxley: Once the Head of Media for Vote Leave, Oxley has also previously served as a spad to both DfID and the MoD, and before that worked for the TaxPayers’ Alliance. He will serve Johnson as Press Secretary.
- Damon Poole: Another former Leave campaigner, and an account director at the Brunswick Group, Poole will be reportedly be in charge of broadcasting.
- Meg Powell-Chandler: A fomer spad to David Cameron and Damian Hinds, she will apparently be in charge of the grid.
- James Starkie: Formerly one of Michael Gove’s trusted advisers, Starkie was briefly head of press for Dominic Raab’s short-lived leadership campaign. He resigned from his Government role in November in opposition to May’s Withdrawal Agreement, and penned a piece for the Times Red Box comparing Brexit to Vietnam.
- James Wild: Most recently employed as a spad by David Lidington, May’s Europhile deputy prime minister, Wild is apparently stepping in to serve as one of the three deputy chiefs of staff. He is married to Baroness Evans, who leads for the Government in the House of Lords.
- Will Walden: A bit of a question mark here, as it is reportedly not clear that Walden will be taking a formal position in Johnson’s administration. He is however a long-standing aide to the Prime Minister, having been his Communications Director from 2008 to 2016, whilst the latter was serving as Mayor of London. Walden has apparently been helping Johnson pick his Cabinet.