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The Aides And Spads Expected To Join Rishi Sunak In Downing Street

Rishi Sunak is to fill his No 10 with ex-Treasury staffers and long-term loyalists, including a high-flying protege of Dominic Cummings as his chief of staff.

Insiders expect a top job for Liam Booth-Smith, who ran Sunak’s leadership campaign and was his most senior aide at the Treasury, though technically his job title was head of the joint No 10 and No 11 economic unit.

The leather-jacket wearing Booth-Smith, whose sartorial style has been compared to the Fonz’s, worked in No 10 before the creation of the unit, highly rated by both Boris Johnson and Cummings. The unit was originally created by Johnson with the intention of centralising economic decision making – essentially a power grab.

But the unintended consequence was to create a powerful team of aides with experience of central government who have become deeply loyal to Sunak.

Booth-Smith’s relationship with Sunak started when the new prime minister was a junior minister at the Ministry for Housing, Communities and Local Government. He has a radically different background to his new boss, having been brought up by a single mother on a council estate in Stoke.

The other senior name in the frame is Eleanor Shawcross, another former Treasury aide who also spent six years as George Osborne’s deputy chief of staff.

She was another brain of the Sunak leadership campaign, working on policy development, and could be handed the role as head of the policy unit or possibly joint chief of staff. She met her husband through the party, the chief executive of Next, Simon Wolfson, who also advised Osborne.

Her deputy is tipped to be James Nation, who worked in the joint economic unit and as a spad to Sunak from 2021. Nation started out as a civil servant treading a similar path to Sunak from the housing department to the Treasury. When Sunak stood for the Tory leadership, Nation was key to policy development during the campaign.

Douglas McNeill, another key veteran of the joint unit, is also likely to join Sunak in No 10, having previously worked there under Theresa May. He was a key economic adviser to the 2019 manifesto.

Sunak has a dedicated and enthusiastic communications team, helmed by Nerissa Chesterfield who is set for a senior role in No 10. She is one of the surviving graduates of Vote Leave and the Tufton Street thinktanks, having worked as the Institute for Economic Affairs communications manager and briefly under Liz Truss before moving to back Sunak, to whom she has been exceptionally loyal. She has forged close working relationships with the media.

Rupert Yorke, another former Treasury adviser, is likely to get a strategic role. He acted as Sunak’s link with the parliamentary party while he was at the Treasury and ran the numbers for him during the leadership campaign.

Sunak could also be joined in Downing Street by Lucy Noakes, a long-serving special adviser with experience in the private sector, who spent most of her time in government with one of his closest political allies, Oliver Dowden. Cass Horowitz, Sunak’s much profiled digital guru who is the son of the author Anthony Horowitz, was credited with creating his Instagram-friendly image and signature branding, and will probably lead on that from Downing Street.

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