As the Met begins dishing out fines for partygate, the new regime in No. 10 is focusing on the future. Boris Johnson's Oxford chum Guto Harri was brought in at the beginning of last month to steady the ship as Director of Communications. His early interventions proved a little unorthodox: giving an interview on his appointment, retweeting John Major's criticism of his successor and rocking up Downing Street wielding a Tesco shopping bag with healthy goods.
Now though, it seems Harri has settled down and begun to prepare for the future. First, he raided his old firm Hawthorn Advisors to recruit his former colleague Oscar Reddrop as the new No. 10 head of broadcast. And now, Mr S can reveal that Harri – who served as Johnson's comms chief when the latter was Mayor of London – has hired another Hawthorn aide and alumnus of the BBC and City Hall. Caroline Newton, who served as an assistant director at the GLA under Johnson, joins as a special adviser.
She is the third staff member to be recruited from Hawthorn Advisors, the firm co-founded by Tory party co-chair Ben Elliot, in just eight weeks. The hiring spree comes two months after the Downing Street clear out which saw the resignations of Munira Mirza, Jack Doyle and Dan Rosenfield. Newton is a true-blue Tory, having served on and off as an Oxfordshire councillor since 2012, in which capacity she's championed housebuilding. She's also had a previous brush with stardom: last month she spoke in support of Jeremy Clarkson's campaign to overturn a move by the county council's offices to only serve vegan food at future events.
Newton was quoted describing the move as 'gesture politics' saying that:
“For farmers and food producers, this isn't a lifestyle choice, it's their livelihood. Too many of the Greens and Lib Dems who run the council are focused on offering commentary on much wider social concerns like global warming or gender issues, rather than things that impact the communities they represent. In a county like this, whose farmers are really struggling, it is so tone-deaf – encouraging people to buy avocados from Nicaragua rather than the beautiful produce made locally by their constituents.
Encouraging words for British farmers. Too much focus though on 'gender issues' – perhaps a sign that No. 10 intends to continue pushing the transgender wedge?