Michael Fabricant says Boris Johnson ‘is popular’
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Boris Johnson, 57, has come under fire from Conservative MPs and Whitehall insiders after he decided to give Cabinet Minister Steve Barclay, 49, a new role as his Chief of Staff in Number 10. The Telegraph has revealed the new position, which is thought to put a further strain on Mr Barclay balancing his constituency duties in North East Cambridgeshire, has been described as an “impossible juggling act” and “recipe for chaos”.
It is also in Mr Barclay’s brief to deal with the Channel migrant crisis.
A record-breaking 28,395 migrants crossed the 21-mile strait in 2021 and pressure continues to mount on Home Secretary Priti Patel, 49, to deal with the crisis.
One ex-Minister told the Telegraph the move was “illogical”.
They said: “It’s completely and utterly illogical to have a Cabinet minister as effectively chief of staff and being an MP.
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“There’s no way it can work with all those other responsibilities.”
Andrew Bridgen, a former Johnson ally who has since called on the Prime Minister to step down following ‘partygate’, said: “It’s academic in a way whether it reassures Conservative MPs or not because we answer to the electorate and they are not happy.”
A senior Tory adviser added: “Even as Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster [Mr Barclay’s official title] alone, you are pulled in loads of different directions, but to add chief of staff feels like an impossible juggling act.
“They were struggling to fill it and that’s not meant as a slight on Steve, just that ideally you wouldn’t be combining it with other jobs if good people were putting their hands up.”
However, the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster could be supported as Chief of Staff by the appointment of a permanent secretary to head the new Office of the Prime Minister.
Downing Street will also need to appoint a parliamentary private secretary to Mr Johnson after Andrew Griffith was moved to the Number 10 Policy Unit.
Mr Barclay was promoted to his new role after Dan Rosenfield, 44, resigned from the post along with four other Downing Street insiders.
The Prime Minister’s ex-City Hall colleague Guto Harri, 55, will also enter Number 10 as the Welshman replaces Jack Doyle, 42, as Downing Street’s director of communications.
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The change in personnel comes after the Prime Minister promised to shake-up his inner circle.
Despite much criticism, a Government spokesman told the Telegraph: “The Chief of Staff role will focus primarily on driving the Government’s agenda and ensuring it is better aligned with Cabinet and backbenchers.
“In his dual role as Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster and Chief of Staff, alongside his extensive experience as an MP, Steve Barclay will be well placed to ensure the Prime Minister’s levelling up agenda is delivered at maximum speed while strengthening Cabinet government and providing an enhanced role for Ministers and Parliament.”
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