LONDON — Gavin Barwell, the former Conservative MP that lost his seat in London’s most marginal constituency (Croydon Central), is now the Prime Minister Theresa May’s chief of staff.
He takes over from May’s joint chiefs of staff Nick Timothy and Fiona Hill, who both resigned after a range of criticism was launched again them, which included being blamed for the prime minister’s campaign.
The Conservatives failed to win 326 seats in the general election — the number needed to have an outright majority. But the party still won the largest number of seats, votes, and voting share — with 318 seats, 12,667,213 votes, 42.8%.
On Saturday morning, Katie Perrior, who was director of communications at Downing Street between July 2016 and April 2017, wrote an article for The Times newspaper that heavily criticised Hill and Timothy for the way the campaign was run, which produced the result in the general election. Here are some excerpts:
“It could all have been so different. I genuinely believed Theresa May when she stood on the steps of No 10 in July last year and said we would run a country for everyone and stand to fight injustice. I hung that speech on the wall of my Downing Street office and felt that, together, we were the crusaders against the stigma of mental ill health, the saviours of the Union and the champions of the working class.
“But there was no together. Her closest advisers put paid to that.
“Nick Timothy, the prime minister’s joint chief of staff, used to love reminding people what a hierarchy was and how it worked. If No 10 was run like a business, he would do well to remember that the customer is always right.
“And the customer has spoken — a hierarchy bigger than Nick, bigger than the prime minister. At the top of the chain sit the people who put you there in the first place — the electorate. I have written before about a whiff of arrogance emanating from No 10. It turns out the public couldn’t just detect a whiff, the place bloody well stank.”
Following the revelations May was under huge pressure to sack Hill and Timothy. However, by the afternoon, Hill and Timothy resigned, with the latter saying the Conservative election campaign “failed” to get May’s “positive plan for the future” across to voters in a blog for Conservative Home. He added:
“I take responsibility for my part in this election campaign, which was the oversight of our policy programme. In particular, I regret the decision not to include in the manifesto a ceiling as well as a floor in our proposal to help meet the increasing cost of social care.
“But I would like to make clear that the bizarre media reports about my own role in the policy’s inclusion are wrong: It had been the subject of many months of work within Whitehall, and it was not my personal pet project.”
In a statement on Conservative Home, Hill said: “It’s been a pleasure to serve in government, and a pleasure to work with such an excellent prime minister. I have no doubt at all that Theresa May will continue to serve and work hard as prime minister — and do it brilliantly.”
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