Number 10

Mike Penning’s fat fingers blunder

There’s a fevered atmosphere within Parliament at present as MPs gather to debate Boris Johnson’s future. The triennial game of ‘pass the crown’ is on again as revelations continue to emerge about what went on at Fabric No. 10 throughout the pandemic. Rumours abound as to whether Tory whips have posted sentries to watch Sir Graham Brady’s office for any MPs submitting letters to call for a vote of confidence, with some handing them to braver colleagues to hand them in. Fortunately for nervy backbenchers, the 1922 committee rules were recently changed to allow letters to be sent via email. With tensions running high, any sign of MPs breaking ranks could cause the rest

Full list of Downing Street parties

So, how many is that now? ITV have just revealed that Boris Johnson had a 56th birthday bash in the middle of the first lockdown — the latest in a list of illicit parties that have come to light over the past two months. By Steerpike’s count there have been reports of at least *sixteen* parties which allegedly broke Covid restrictions as they changed repeatedly throughout the pandemic. Most of these gatherings were held in No. 10 Downing Street but other Whitehall departments also got in on the act. Below is a timeline of all the alleged soirees, shindigs and not-so-socially distanced jamborees held in SW1 over the past two years… 15 May 2020:  An image was published

The problem with No. 10’s drinking culture

One challenge for the Cabinet Secretary Simon Case in deciding whether a group of people drinking together is a party is that there was something of an evening drinking culture in 10 Downing Street, especially on Friday nights and especially in the press office. He’ll have to begin his adjudication of the propriety of Downing Street parties by deciding whether a group of people routinely drinking at their desks in the office constituted a breach of lockdown rules. According to a government source: ‘The Number 10 press guys drink at their desks on a Friday evening… that goes on for hours, but still fielding calls/emails etc, so just got old

Revealed: How Boris paid for the Downing Street refurbishment

I understand that CCHQ (Conservative Campaign Headquarters) made a payment to the Cabinet Office to cover the initial costs of refurbishing the Prime Minister’s home in Downing Street, and the PM is now repaying CCHQ.  There is an audit trail and Cabinet Secretary Simon Case knows about it. This is presumably why he told MPs today that he would do a report on the propriety of how the decoration and furnishing was funded. Downing Street says to me that the PM has now paid for the costs of the refurbishment. But there was a loan to him from the Tory party. And I assume that loan will now have to

Dominic Cummings: I am not the Downing Street leaker

Dominic Cummings has released the following statement on his website: The Prime Minister’s new Director of Communications Jack Doyle, at the PM’s request, has made a number of false accusations to the media. 1. Re Dyson. I do have some WhatsApp messages between the PM/Dyson forwarded to me by the PM. I have not found the ones that were leaked to Laura Kuenssberg on my phone nor am I aware of being sent them last year. I was not directly or indirectly a or the source for the BBC/Kuenssberg story on the PM/Dyson texts. Yesterday some No. 10 officials told me that No. 10 would make this accusation and told me

Katy Balls

Why is No. 10 turning on Dominic Cummings over ‘leaks’?

After yet another week of government leaks of private correspondence sent by the Prime Minister, Downing Street has hit back. But it’s not to deny the contents of any of the messages – which range from WhatsApps with Saudi Arabia’s crown prince over football to discussions with UK entrepreneur James Dyson about ventilators – it’s to blame Dominic Cummings for the messages being made public in the first place. Late last night multiple papers (though notably not the Boris-sceptic Daily Mail) published briefings by a Downing Street source that Johnson’s former senior aide was likely behind the stories. A government figure tells the Telegraph that ‘if you join the dots it

Could Carrie Symonds use the Irvine defence?

After a year of intermittent lockdowns, many Britons have spent too long looking at the walls of their flat and have started to consider an interior upgrade. So, who can blame the Prime Minister’s fiancé Carrie Symonds for thinking similar? The Daily Mail reports that Symonds has recently completed an extensive makeover of the Downing Street apartment she shares with Johnson – complete with ‘gold wall coverings’. As for the motivating factor in the refurbishment, a Tatler profile of Symonds reports that she has been on a mission to remove all vestiges of Theresa May’s ‘John Lewis furniture nightmare’ (imagine the horror). Rather than shop in a mere department store,

What’s behind David Frost’s promotion?

The news that David Frost is to be a Minister of State in the Cabinet Office and full member of cabinet has set the cat among the pigeons in Westminster this evening. The UK’s lead Brexit negotiator had previously been lined up to be national security adviser. However, it was eventually decided that he did not have the right experience to take on the role and he was instead appointed as Johnson’s representative on Brexit and International Policy. That Frost is to join the cabinet is a significant promotion — and it’s a promotion that is already causing ripples across government with various briefings doing the rounds on reported unrest in Downing Street.

Meet Boris Johnson’s new chief of staff

Boris Johnson’s search for a chief of staff to bring order to 10 Downing Street has proved so difficult that earlier this month civil war erupted in No. 10 after he offered the role to his longstanding director of communications Lee Cain. In the face of a backlash from figures including the Prime Minister’s partner Carrie Symonds and new press spokesperson Allegra Stratton, Cain ended up handing in his resignation — Dominic Cummings followed him out the door — and the search for a chief of staff continued.  Now Johnson has made his pick. Dan Rosenfield is the Prime Minister’s new chief of staff, beginning work in Downing Street next month before officially taking

Cummings set to leave No. 10 by Christmas

Dominic Cummings will leave Downing Street at the end of this year, the BBC’s political editor Laura Kuenssberg is reporting. Cummings is one of those rare individuals who has bent the arc of history. He has been crucial, if not indispensable, to several key moments in this country’s recent past. His work at Business for Sterling is one of the things that put Tony Blair off attempting to take the UK into the Euro. Even more importantly, it is hard to believe that Leave would have won the 2016 referendum without the brilliant, heterodox campaign that Cummings devised. Cummings has long been more interested in how government works The victory

No. 10’s latest BBC row is a helpful distraction

How do you move on from a week of torrid headlines over a power struggle between senior No. 10 aides and a recently departed Chancellor? The old Tory playbook – mastered by Boris Johnson’s former election guru Lynton Crosby – would suggest throwing a dead cat. The dead cat strategy used when a party wishes to change the conversation by any means necessary. The idea is that by the time it’s done people will stop talking about the thing you want to move away from and instead become distracted and effectively go: ‘Jeez, mate, there’s a dead cat on the table!’ It’s worth remembering this device when considering that we