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Good morning. Another change in the civil service? Simon Case is said to be weighing his future as the UK’s top civil servant. Some Think about our scoop in today’s note.
News that Sue Gray would join Keir Starmer’s team spread midway through the Conservatives’ day off. The news spread through MPs gathering “like a wildfire” in the words of one attendee, with MPs spotting it on their phones and notifying nearby colleagues.
It spooked MPs for a number of reasons. The first is that some of them have direct dealings with Sue Gray as cabinet office fixers and secret “disappearances”, and they worry that she will carry those secrets. follow yourself.
letter two, as i wrote on friday, which is for some of Boris Johnson’s allies, it gives them the opportunity to cloud the waters around Johnson’s exit and the importance of reporting on her sides. (For the true story in Gray’s report, Rob Hutton’s Work for the Critics worth reading). But it helped them throw enough mud and enough confusion to blur the real reasons for Johnson’s departure and — they hoped — to facilitate his return as prime minister.
The third is that for others, they saw a respected public servant jump into the opposition, and they concluded that Gray, like many in Westminster, had ruled out the Conservatives’ chance of remaining in office. after the next election. Isaac Levido, the party’s chief strategist, spent much of the day presenting data showing that Labor is weakly ahead and the Conservatives have a viable path to victory. next election.
The fact that senior civil servants think that their own prospects will be better served by leaving the civil service to join the office leadership of the opposition, rightly or wrongly, seems to be evidence against Levido’s faith.
I don’t think that’s entirely true, but enough MPs believe it anyway. It’s also another matter for Simon Case, who was appointed cabinet secretary in September 2020. Controversy over whether Gray behaved properly in disclosing her meetings with Keir. Starmer and her interest in the work can still influence him.
That’s the basis for our scoop from Chris Cook, George Parker, and Jasmine Cameron-Chileshe: The Case That’s It consider exiting the role early.
The case will be crazy Are not to consider your future. He was incredibly lucky to have survived the leadership transition from Boris Johnson to Liz Truss. What saved him was the fact that Truss and Kwasi Kwarteng considered Tom Scholar, the former Permanent Secretary of Finance, to be the more important barrier. The couple thought they couldn’t get both done in one go without causing too many problems.
Now Case faces challenges from both sides. On the one hand, there are nagging questions about Johnson’s Downing Street and the cabinet secretary’s knowledge of internal affairs, at least Johnson’s alleged personal financial ties with the president of the BBC, Richard Sharp. (Sharp has said he asked Sam Blyth, a businessman who approached him to support Johnson, to contact Case.)
On the other hand, the cabinet secretary is heavily cited in the Telegraph’s “Lockdown Records”: leaked WhatsApp messages received and sent by Matt Hancock at the height of the Covid-19 pandemic. He at least seems to emerge as a sidekick to Hancock.
Essentially, everyone in the Conservative Party knows there are three key cabinet figures debating the lockdown: Matt Hancock (for), Michael Gove (for) and Rishi Sunak (against). But what is really new, regarding the internal rhythms of the Tory party, is that Case described some opponents of the Covid-19 restrictions as motivated by “purely Conservative ideology”, and that Johnson is “not trusted by the nation”.
It leaves Case in a predicament: he is raising concerns among those who see him as Johnson’s last retainer, a recalcitrant and ineffective Cabinet secretary who should not have existed. longer than the prime minister appointed him. But he is also facing criticism from skeptics about the Tory right door lock.
Will he go? I do not know. But given the forces he faces within the Conservatives, he would be mad if he didn’t at least consider leaving on his terms.
My column this week is on World Book Day, costumes and the resulting quest for parents.
Now try this
Morning — Here is Georgina: i just read The trees by Percival Everett, a fast-paced satire about racism in the United States that transitions from hilarious comedy to serious horror, as it investigates a pattern of murder that begins in Money, Mississippi.
Also excellent satire of the United States: Righteous Gems, a drama about a quirky family of televangelists in charge of a corrupt super-church. John Goodman gave a genius performance as a world-famous but definitely human patriarch. My partner and I are working (and laughing) during season two.