James Forsyth

Downing Street monitoring three potential Whitehall trouble spots

Downing Street monitoring three potential Whitehall trouble spots
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Benedict Brogan, who is extremely well sourced inside Number 10, has a very interesting report on three potential problems that Downing Street is keeping a close eye on. The first is the Cameron Fox relationship. As James Kirkup writes in the Telegraph today, Cameron was not best pleased when Fox announced Sir Jock Stirrup’s sacking in a newspaper interview.

There’s a feeling among some of his Cabinet colleagues that Fox is using up his lives rather quickly what with this mistake and the comment about Afghanistan being a broken 13th century just before he and William Hague and Andrew Mitchell arrived there. There’s also a lot of briefing against Fox coming out of his own department. The MoD have not taken to him. (In Fox’s defence, it should be noted that the department needs shaking up.)

The second potential problem Brogan cites is DWP. He says that mandarins are worried that there are too many cooks attempting to deal with this broth—IDS, Grayling, and Freud with Frank Field’s review still to come. Even IDS’ strongest admirers wouldn’t call him a natural project manager but the presence of Chris Grayling and Phillipa Stroud, the former head of the CSJ, should help ease the situation. Also, Cameron couldn’t afford to lose both the prominent right-wingers in his Cabinet. So if Fix’s position being shaky, strengthens IDS’ position. 

DFID is the third problem department that Brogan mentions. But from my understanding, the problem here is civil servants not getting with the programme. Andrew Mitchell is one of the most impressive members of the Cabinet and he’s spent the last five years working out what he would do with this department. It is not unreasonable for him to expect to be allowed to implement that vision.

Written byJames Forsyth

James Forsyth is Political Editor of the Spectator. He is also a columnist in The Sun.

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