James Forsyth

Camilla Cavendish to head Number 10 policy unit

Camilla Cavendish to head Number 10 policy unit
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As British politics becomes more presidential, the structure of Number 10 matters more and more. David Cameron values continuity, collegiality and calmness in his senior team and what is striking is how many of his team are staying on post-election.

The word coming out of Downing Street today is that Ed Llewellyn will remain as chief of staff in this parliament. But Llewellyn will also be the Prime Minister’s point person on the EU renegotiation, a hugely time consuming task. Number 10 is emphasising that the two deputy chiefs of staff, Craig Oliver and Kate Fall will be taking on more responsibilities to ensure the efficient running of the Cameron operation when Llewellyn is absent.

Oliver becomes the Political and Communications director. Alongside his media duties, he’ll be in charge of the coordination and implementation of domestic policy. This more political role reflects the role that the former BBC man played in the election campaign, when he spent as much time on the politics of Tory announcements as their communication. Kate Fall continues in her current role, with a particular responsibility for ensuring that the Tory manifesto gets through parliament. She’ll be in charge of Downing Street’s relations with the Tory parliamentary party, a crucial task given the small majority that Cameron has to work with. On the civil service side, Chris Martin’s tenure as the PM’s Principal Private Secretary has been extended.

Two of those most involved in the running of the Tory election campaign receive promotions. Ameet Gill, who has been with Cameron since soon after he became Tory leader and oversaw the successful campaign grid, becomes director of strategy, taking on the job once done by Steve Hilton. Liz Sugg becomes director of operations and campaigns. Gabby Bertin, one of Cameron’s longest serving and most loyal advisers, stays as director of external relations and the unflappable Graeme Wilson continues as Cameron’s press secretary.

However, the big new appointment is that of Camilla Cavendish — the Sunday Times columnist — who becomes the new head of the Downing Street policy unit. As those who have read her columns will know, Cavendish is one of the sharpest thinkers on the centre-right. Her presence will ensure that there are no shortage of ideas for Cameron’s second term.

Given today’s immigration news it is particularly striking that in her post-election column, Cavendish argued that ‘The government now has a clear mandate to conduct a tough renegotiation with the EU in which an opt-out from freedom of movement must be a red line’. She also urged Cameron to ‘adopt Labour’s policies on non-doms and Lib Dem proposals to extend the upper bands of council tax.’ Cavendish also revealed that she favoured gradual moving towards a federal settlement for the UK.