James Forsyth

Boris Johnson’s planning for government

Boris Johnson's planning for government
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Boris Johnson had been refusing to engage with the question of Cabinet appointments and the like until he was through his Andrew Neil interview.

But with that done, his focus is now shifting from the campaign to the transition as I say in The Sun this morning. One source explains the move by saying that ‘from next week, decisions have to be taken for the success of a Johnson administration’. I understand that Johnson will settle on who he wants as Chief Whip, Chancellor and Party Chairman before moving on to the other appointments.

One long time Johnson confidant tells me that Boris has learnt lessons from what happened to Vote Leave. It won the referendum, but it didn’t have a plan for what to do the day after. The result was that much of the momentum and the benefits of that victory were lost:  3 years on we are still in the EU.

Boris knows that this time he must be prepared.

To try and avoid a repeat of the referendum error, Sir Eddie Lister—who will be Boris’s chief of staff—is drawing up a detailed plan for the first 72 hours in Downing Street. I understand that he is also in the process of appointing several deputy chiefs of staff. James Wild, Michael Fallon’s former fixer, and David Frost, a former ambassador who worked for Johnson at the Foreign Office, are in line to handle domestic and foreign matters respectively.

There is a huge amount riding on this 72 hour plan. One of Boris’s Cabinet backers tells me that a successful first few days and a bounce in the opinion polls could give Boris the momentum he needs if his premiership is to get off the launchpad. But a weak start will lead to a failure to launch.