United Kingdom

Harry Cole: Shadowy assassins trying to 'strangle at birth' Boris Johnson's civil service reforms

Boris Johnson’s closest aides are paranoid that dark forces in Whitehall are trying to ‘strangle at birth’ sweeping civil servant reforms.

That’s the stinging verdict of senior communications mandarin Alex Aiken, revealed in a furious rant to underlings on Friday.

The Civil Service bigwig spoke out after plans to cull his 4,000 spin doctors were leaked to the media before he could tell his staff.

Boris Johnson (pictured)'s closest advisors fear there is a plot to 'strangle at birth' the sweeping civil servant reforms made by the PM

In an outburst that will reignite a war of words between No 10 and officialdom after the ousting of Cabinet Secretary Sir Mark Sedwill, Aiken exposed a culture in which Downing Street lives in fears of plans being sabotaged.

He railed: ‘It is extraordinary that the PM and his senior colleagues took the view that if they want to make this happen, we have to announce it, we have to make it a thing, whereas if we let it float around the system for a couple of weeks the naysayers and the opponents and the organisational assassins will come out and try to strangle it at birth. 

'That is why I am sorry to say it appeared in The Times before you heard about it.’

Aiken pointed the finger of blame directly at Johnson’s team, blasting their ‘leakism culture’, adding: ‘I do just wonder why people want to do this, it’s absolutely extraordinary – you’re undermining the PM, it’s a culture that we have got to stop. We know what you are doing.’

A ‘brave’ choice of words, as Sir Humphrey might say…

It's a good time to be a ‘superforecaster’ in Whitehall with Dominic Cummings yet again setting special advisers homework to read various tomes about predicting the future and data-driven decision-making. 

But it appears his old boss Michael Gove did not get the memo before appearing on Michael Portillo’s new Friday night Times Radio show. 

Admitting to being poor at predictions, he pointed out he had once described his host as ‘the future of the Right’ in a fawning 1995 biography.

Free plug suits SamCam 

Emily Sheffield is definitely keeping it in the family after replacing her brother-in-law David Cameron’s best friend George Osborne as editor of the London Evening Standard.

Emily Sheffield (right) has become the new editor of the Evening Standard and had her first major interview with Boris Johnson (left) this week

After the erstwhile fashion writer’s first big interview with Boris Johnson, a picture of her fetching suit appeared on the Instagram account of her sister Samantha Cameron’s clothes firm Ceffin .

The company pointed out that it had made Emily’s ‘elegant, effortless and everyday contemporary womenswear’ – and not to let the free advertising go to waste, Ceffin was offering a ten per cent discount for those who wanted to get the look.

‘I am proud of the work that we have done together over the last ten months to create a more compassionate welfare system,’ wrote Amber Rudd when she quit as Work and Pensions Secretary last summer. And a ‘compassionate’ hand-out for Rudd herself was to follow. Her former department recently published annual accounts show she got a severance payment of £16,876. 

With lockdown easing to allow gatherings of up to 30 people, I hear No 10 garden parties are slowly being organised. 

First on the list is a private thank-you drink in the Rose Garden for the doctors and nurses at St Thomas’ Hospital who saved the PM’s life after he contracted Covid. 

Former MI6 man turned global spy celebrity Christopher Steele has helped compile another dossier after his controversial work on Trump’s links to Russia. 

It promises to be a devastating exposé of Huawei on Tuesday, but he will share his findings with only three hand-picked, blonde and very glamorous female journalists. Oh so James Bond... 

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