Jeremy heywood

Diary – 15 November 2018

Jacob Rees-Mogg observed that my resignation last week was ‘the “Emperor’s New Clothes” moment in the Brexit process’. If this is right, that makes me the child, too young to understand the importance of maintaining pretences, who blurts out before the embarrassed townsfolk that the emperor is naked. I’ve been surprised by the noisy reaction to my departure from the middle ranks of the government. The video I made in my office setting out my reasons for going had two million views in two days. Maybe this is an example of Orwell’s dictum that in a time of deceit telling the truth is a revolutionary act. The deceit is that

Sir Jeremy Heywood strikes a delicate balance over Brexit papers ban

It was perhaps rather optimistic to hope that the row over Eurosceptic ministers being banned from seeing official papers in the lead-up to the EU referendum would be cleared up in one select committee session alone. But Sir Jeremy Heywood’s appearance in front of MPs did manage to demystify some of the confusion over what will and won’t be handed over to pro-Brexit ministers. The cabinet secretary and head of the civil service said those wanting out of the EU will get access to ‘all the facts that have been provided to Number Ten’. Bernard Jenkin seemed happy with proceedings at least, saying at the end: ‘We have successfully cleared

Theresa May defends Jeremy Heywood’s Heathrow meddling

Sir Jeremy Heywood has been caught meddling in government matters again. The BBC’s Laura Kuenssberg reveals that the Cabinet Secretary wrote to ministers before party conference season to warn them against speaking out on expanding Heathrow Airport while a decision is still being taken. Heywood helpfully said it was fine to reiterate statements made pre-July but they should keep schtum on anything new now, in fear of opening the door to a legal challenge. For a senior civil servant to dole out orders to ministers in this way is pretty irregular— with one member of the cabinet telling the BBC it was ‘unprecedented’. On the Today programme, the Home Secretary Theresa May said ‘I don’t comment on leaked documents’

Dominic Cummings hits back at David Cameron

It’s a row that won’t go away, after Mr S revealed yesterday that the PM had labelled Dominic Cummings a ‘career psychopath’, Michael Gove’s former special adviser has hit back, blogging: “At the PolEx party (18/6), Cameron said that I am a ‘career psychopath’. A) No10′s first reaction was to decide not to react to my interview, then one of his friends pleaded with me to ‘leave him alone because Miliband would be even worse’ and another threatened me (incompetently). The fact that Cameron then blurts out an insult reviving the story four days later is an example of my point about the lack of focus in No10. If they can’t

How the Conservatives turned Labour’s attack dog into their PR agent

Here’s a clever way to get more exposure for your political slogan. You say it so often in speeches, press releases and planted questions from the whips that it seeps everywhere, you start dreaming it, and your opponents get very cross indeed. Then your opponents accidentally say your political slogan while all mithered. Then they get a bit jealous that it’s popping up in every single piece of government literature so they complain about this political slogan, which they mention, again, thus ensuring it reaches more and more and more people. Bravo to an opposition that stays calm in the face of a barrage of ‘long-term economic plans’ designed to

Number 10 defends Sir Jeremy Heywood’s freelancing

What is Sir Jeremy Heywood up to? Last week he jointly wrote an article praising Margaret Thatcher which led to a Labour MP accusing him of having ‘prostituted his high office’. This week he’s revealed to be discussing the behind-the-scenes wranglings in the Cabinet on economic policy. The Times’ Sam Coates reports this morning that the Cabinet Secretary revealed to a private meeting of bankers that there were four different positions on growth in the Cabinet. Coates reports that Heywood said David Cameron was focused on exports, free trade and micro and small businesses, Nick Clegg is more interested in regional growth and city-led schemes, Vince Cable is annoyed with

Three problems with Sir Jeremy Heywood’s ‘plebgate’ evidence

Sir Jeremy Heywood’s evidence to MPs on the Andrew Mitchell row didn’t go down very well at all this morning. Though a powerful man, the Cabinet Secretary is not well-liked by MPs, and before he appeared some had already named him as a central figure in the fiasco that led to the chief whip resigning. The Public Administration Select Committee hearing did little to improve this perception. Here are the main problems with his evidence: 1. Heywood’s investigation was limited. The Cabinet Secretary said he was asked to conduct a ‘very specific review’ of emails about Mitchell’s behaviour from a man claiming to be a constituent of the deputy chief

Sherlock Heywood will face the mob

Not long ago Westminster wags nicknamed Sir Jeremy Heywood, Downing Street’s top Sir Humphrey — ‘Wormtongue’ after Tolkien’s poisonous power behind the throne in the Lord of the Rings. Since being tasked with investigating the Andrew Mitchell affair (and managing to miss the glaring differences between the CCTV footage and the police notes long before the tapes were sent to Channel Four News) the Cabinet Secretary — disliked by many at the best of times — has earned a new nickname from Tory types. Watch out for that eagle-eyed Sherlock Heywood. Now it emerges that the forensic inspector will be making a rare public appearance in front of the Public Administration Committee

Jeremy Heywood, just call him very influential

The main topic of conversation in Whitehall today has been The Guardian’s profile of the Cabinet Secretary Sir Jeremy Heywood. One particular passage has raised some eyebrows in several ministerial offices: He believes, they say, that reports of his power are overstated and the very suggestion that he might be making decisions on behalf of politicians makes him “cringe”. He prefers to describe himself, they say, as simply very influential. Heywood, and this irritates some in Number 10, briefs journalists personally. He is known to be particularly concerned about his image. I’m told that after The Spectator cover depicting him as the PM’s puppet-master, there was much discussion over what

Sir Jeremy ‘the Master’ Heywood

Mr Steerpike is back in print in today’s Spectator. Here’s a taste of what to expect: ‘Hats off to Sir Jeremy Heywood. The Cabinet Secretary’s bid to delete himself from everyone’s Christmas card list is proving a great success. Ministers were not amused by Sue Cameron’s Telegraph column hailing Sir Jeremy as ‘the only person trying to impose some order on the chaos’. She described him as the PM’s de facto political enforcer and she gushed lovingly about his capacity to ‘excite the frisson of fear’ in Downing Street. In response, the Sun’s Tom Newton Dunn tweeted that Sir Jeremy had become the ‘unelected epicentre of power’. One disgruntled Downing

Iain Duncan Smith versus Jeremy Heywood

There’s war in Whitehall. The Sunday Times devotes its p2 lead (£) to the fact that Sir Jeremy Heywood, the Cabinet Secretary, is ‘sceptical’ of the Universal Credit, the key to Iain Duncan Smith’s revolutionary welfare reforms. The newspaper has gathered its intelligence by reading the leading article of this week’s Spectator, and repeats our point that civil servants will interpret Heywood’s reservations as a ‘go-slow order’. Here is what our leader column says: ‘Treasury officials have been against Duncan Smith from the start, due to the threat which Universal Credit posed to their beloved tax credits. Ambition in itself is looked down upon by ministers who deride ‘IDS’s grand projet’. Sir Jeremy

Just in case you need another reason not to vote Benita, she’s now being backed by Jonathan Ross

I doubt that many CoffeeHousers are planning on voting for the independent candidate for Mayor of London, Siobhan Benita. As Leo McKinstry said in this magazine recently, she’s really the civil service, establishment candidate. But fair play to her for standing for election unlike her mentor Gus O’Donnell, Jeremy Heywood or any other members of the permanent governing class. But if any Spectator reader was contemplating voting for Benita, another reminder of why you shouldn’t comes today from Jonathan Ross who has endorsed her on Twitter. Given that Benita has the endorsement of both Ross — whose onetime BBC chat show was a demonstration of nearly everything that is wrong with

Cameron and the civil service coup

We thought CoffeeHousers might care to read James’s political column from this week’s magazine (on sale today), so here it is: There is a split in the Cameron circle. The divide is between those who think that the problems of the past few weeks have been a blip, one that will end when Boris Johnson wins in London, and those — including some of the Prime Minister’s closest friends — who fear the problems are symptoms of a disease that could cripple the government. At stake in this debate is the future strategic direction, and the potential success, of the Cameron project. The Prime Minister, ever the optimist, is in

Hodge’s new nemesis: Sir Jeremy Heywood

Margaret Hodge subjected senior civil servants to a fierce ear-boxing this morning. She accused them of trying to avoid the scrutiny of her Public Accounts Committee, and declared the current doctrine of ministerial responsibility unfit for the 21st century: ‘The senior civil service needs to acknowledge that we live in a different world from the world in which ancient conventions could prevail. Everybody wants greater transparency and accountability.’ Hodge also said she ‘has been rattling the cage too much for some’ and detailed some of the resistance she’s encountered. In particular, she highlighted a disagreement with Gus O’Donnell, the former Cabinet Secretary, who berated her for the handling of an