Boris makes a bold move making Barclay Chief of Staff

MP Steve Barclay. Picture by Simon Dawson / No 10 Downing Street

Steve Barclay, Member of Parliament for North East Cambridgeshire, has been appointed by Prime Minister Boris Johnson to the position of Chief of Staff.

The move follows the resignation of Dan Rosenfield from the position after he was implicated in the partygate scandal.

Mr Barclay announced the news on Twitter saying:

“It is an honour to have been asked by the PM to serve as Chief of Staff for No10 Downing Street alongside my responsibilities in the Cabinet Office. I am looking forward to working with the PM, Ministers and Parliamentary colleagues on the issues that matter most to our country.”

The Downing Street Chief of Staff is the most senior political appointee in the office of the Prime Minister, acting as a senior aide to the PM, a powerful, non-ministerial position within Her Majesty’s Government.

The role of Chief of Staff initially had executive authority, and at the time of its creation, was referred to as “almost certainly the most powerful unelected official in the country,” and possibly “the third most powerful altogether” after the prime minister and the chancellor of the exchequer. 

Since 2007 the role does not legally have executive authority, although the post holder remains by definition the senior adviser to the Prime Minister and holds great influence.

From 1997 to 2019 and from November 2020, the title of Chief of Staff has been held by the most senior special adviser at Downing Street. 

The formal title of Chief of Staff was out of use between July 2019 and November 2020 when the role was overseen by Dominic Cummings as Chief Adviser and Edward Lister as Chief Strategic Adviser.

However, during this time, Cummings was noted to be the de facto chief of staff. When Cummings departed Downing Street, Johnson appointed Lister as acting Chief of Staff. Lister was succeeded by Dan Rosenfield, who was in the position for just a year.

On Friday Boris Johnson quoted from The Lion King, insisting “change is good,” as he rallied his team in an uplifting meeting in the Cabinet Room after five recent resignations at No 10.

Speaking to his team in the Cabinet Room as others tuned in on Zoom, the Prime Minister said:

“As Rafiki in The Lion King says, change is good, and change is necessary even though it’s tough.”

Mr Johnson was also said to have given his inspiring “half-time pep talk” in which he talks about spitting out the “orange peel” and getting back on the “pitch.”

Guto Harri, a respected journalist is also joining No 10 as Director of Communications. Guto was the Prime Minister’s Spokesman and Chief of Staff during his first term as London Mayor.

There will continue to be further appointments over the coming days with a particular focus on improving engagement and liaison with MPs.

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