Following the chaos and conflict of the Dominic Cummings era, the appointment of Dan Rosenfield as Boris Johnson’s chief of staff is a decisive break with the past.
The Prime Minister’s most senior aide, shaven-headed Cummings, 49, never wore a suit and tie, was rude to MPs and officials, and revelled in the notoriety of being the UK’s most powerful unelected official.
Rosenfield, on the other hand, always goes to work suited and booted, is noted for his easy-going manner and eschews publicity – so much so that when his appointment was announced yesterday, several senior officials in No 10 had to Google him to find out who he was.
They had better swot up fast, for Rosenfield, 43, starts his new job on Monday – just two weeks after the dramatic departure of Cummings and his former Vote Leave campaign sidekick, Lee Cain, who was Johnson’s communications chief.
Following the chaos and conflict of the Dominic Cummings era, the appointment of Dan Rosenfield as Boris Johnson’s chief of staff is a decisive break with the past
Cain himself was a one-time front runner for the chief of staff role, but had his appointment reportedly blocked by Carrie Symonds, Boris’s fiancee, and one of a cabal of powerful senior women inside No 10.
In the weeks since, Rosenfield’s name has been a carefully guarded secret, even though he met with the PM in Downing Street for almost three hours 12 days ago. ‘He is an operator, but a discreet one,’ said an admirer. Yet the symbolism of his appointment is far from discreet. As someone who voted Remain in 2016, he is the clearest manifestation yet of the collapse of Vote Leave’s influence on the PM.
So who exactly is the quietly spoken enigma whom Boris is trusting to restore order to his chaotic and riven No 10 operation? A former civil service high-flyer turned multi-millionaire banker, Rosenfield is no stranger to the heart of Government, having served in senior posts to both a Labour and Tory chancellor.
Rosenfield always goes to work suited and booted, is noted for his easy-going manner and eschews publicity
He first won over Boris Johnson while serving as Alistair Darling’s principal private secretary. At the time, then mayor of London Johnson was trying to organise the 2012 Olympics and Rosenfield acted as the link between Whitehall, the sponsors, and the Treasury. ‘I was the mug who took the job on of leading the Treasury effort at putting a budget together for the Olympics the day after we won the bid,’ he said at the time in a rare public comment.
Certainly he was well-equipped to keep London 2012 on the straight and narrow. Just four years earlier, he’d been at Darling’s side when the financial crisis hit.
Rosenfield spent countless long nights in the office, working with the Treasury team on plans to keep the British economy afloat and safeguard the banking system. After one such exhausting stint, the father of three left the Treasury at around 6am, dashed home to put up a trampoline in the garden for his son’s birthday – and was back at his desk within an hour.
The Prime Minister’s most senior aide, shaven-headed Cummings, 49, never wore a suit and tie, was rude to MPs and officials, and revelled in the notoriety of being the UK’s most powerful unelected official
After the Tories won the 2010 election, he became a senior adviser to chancellor George Osborne. In 2011, Rosenfield left the civil service to take a senior post at Merrill Lynch, the wealth management and investing arm of the Bank of America, before moving to Hakluyt, a corporate strategy advisory firm that has been described as a ‘rest home for MI6 men’.
Now, he’s back in Whitehall – and probably took a huge pay cut to boot. A civil servant of the old school, Dan Rosenfield keeps his political views to himself.
‘I have never thought of him as a Tory,’ says one former colleague. ‘But he will be a Tory now. Boris is lucky to have him.’