HARRY COLE: Disrupter Dominic Cummings lobs a bomb at the press pack and adds the system for briefing journalists to the list of things to blow up
Dominic Cummings has added the antiquated system for briefing political journalists to his list of things to blow up
When asked at a Christmas party about his plans for Westminster’s press pack known as the Lobby, Dominic Cummings simply drew a finger across his throat.
Whitehall’s ‘disrupter in chief’ has added the antiquated system for briefing political journalists to his list of things to blow up.
No longer will the PM’s spinners troop to Parliament for utilitarian briefings where any humble hack can hold their feet to the fire twice a day.
Instead, a dramatic old court room in 9 Downing Street will form the backdrop for new-style updates from ‘experts’.
Merry hell has broken loose with accusations the newly powerful No 10 is trying to gag pesky critics.
But Government sources blame grandstanding inquisitors, more keen on playing to the crowd than getting answers, for ruining the old system.
And I hear No 10 is not done there, with insiders pointing to the unusual blog published by Cummings last week calling for people who have ‘worked in movies’ to come work for him.
The recruits will form a new ‘digital first’ unit at the centre of Government, slashing spin doctors with ‘resources to be refocused on new media’.
‘Don’t be surprised if announcements are live streamed online within a year, bypassing the media,’ whispers a source.
A certain No 10 spin doctor’s favourite line to use when trying to dodge awkward questions is: ‘That’s above my pay grade.’
But with recently published transparency data revealing that they are one of the best-rewarded people in the building, perhaps it is time for a new defensive shot.
A report about British trains is late, of course, but Boris Johnson’s long-awaited ‘independent review’ into the never-ending HS2 rail saga is due to be published imminently.
Few in Whitehall expect infrastructure expert Douglas Oakervee to pull the plug on the vast £88 billion project connecting major Northern cities to the capital with 250mph trains, but there is growing chatter he will heed calls to begin the work from the North.
Despite plans for the first phase – between London and Birmingham – being ‘shovel ready’ and written into law, transport sources expect a dramatic upheaval when the delayed report finally arrives.
Boris Johnson’s long-awaited ‘independent review’ into the never-ending HS2 rail saga is due to be published imminently
Troubled times for Parliament’s choir, which was decimated by the Tory Election landslide.
Labour’s Sue Hayman, the head chorister, lost her totemic Workington seat and four other members quit the Commons. Bernard Jenkin was left holding the fort as a Christmas soloist.
‘We need some new talent,’ he hoarsely told my musical mole.
An interestingly worded denial from well-heeled charity boss David Miliband.
The former Foreign Secretary said claims he had pulled the plug on an SAS plan to assassinate Iranian General Qasem Soleimani in 2007 when he was co-ordinating attacks against British soldiers in Iraq ‘did not tally with my recollection’.
Indeed, I hear things were a little more complex, with the decision to abort the mission actually being ordered by the Americans…
Beeb’s Mustique mischief
Having seemingly given up on trying to get a snap of Boris Johnson and his girlfriend Carrie Symonds at their private Mustique hideaway, the BBC took a novel approach to reporting on the Prime Minister’s New Year address to the nation on Wednesday.
News at 10 on January 1 mocked together an image of Boris Johnson and Mustique
Instead of simply running footage recorded by the PM before he jetted to the Caribbean, they illustrated their report with a Photoshopped image of the besuited Premier standing beside a swimming pool in Mustique – sparking fresh claims of anti-Boris bias at the Corporation.
‘They’re not even being subtle any more,’ scoffed an irate No 10 adviser.
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