Boris Johnson 'to get new No.10 PPS' as incoming PM builds Downing Street team

Former DfE spad and Vote Leave chief Dominic Cummings set for key role as first cabinet appointments exepcted today

Photo: PA

By Richard Johnstone

24 Jul 2019

Boris Johnson will begin building his cabinet and 10 Downing Street team after being confirmed as prime minister later this afternoon, with a number of official and adviser appointments expected.

Among the key roles that Johnson is expected to fill include No.10 principal private secretary, with reports that Peter Hill, the former senior Foreign Office civil servant who has held the post since May 2017, is to leave. A No.10 spokesperson told CSW that they were not commenting on any possible departures, but would announce any civil service moves “in the usual way”.

A new PPS appointment would likely take some weeks to finalise, but a host of other appointments are expected in the coming days. It has been reported that Dominic Cummings, a former special adviser to Michael Gove in the Department for Education who went on to work on the Vote Leave Brexit campaign with Johnson, is expected to get a role as a senior advisor in Downing Street.

Cummings frequently clashed with civil servants when introducing school reforms in DfE, and during the Brexit campaign he told the Treasury Select Committee that Foreign Office officials couldn’t negotiate their way “out of a paper bag” and accusing senior civil servants of “making threats” to keep Britain in the EU.


Also in line for a potential role as senior adviser is Sir Edward Lister, who was Johnson’s chief of staff when he was Mayor of London. Lister could hold the same post in No.10, but he may only hold the post on a transitional basis as Johnson works to implement his pledge to ensure that the UK leaves the European Union by the end of October.

A key Brexit appointment is expected to be former UK ambassador and ex-Johnson spad David Frost. A career diplomat, Frost served as the British ambassador to Denmark from 2006 to 2008 and as director for strategy and policy planning in the Foreign Office from 2008 to 2010, before a spell in the then-Department for Business, Innovation and Skills as director for Europe, trade and international affairs.

Frost left the civil service in 2013 to become chief executive of the Scotch Whisky Association before returning to the Foreign Office as a special adviser to Johnson in November 2016 until Johnson’s resignation as foreign secretary last year.

It has been reported that Frost will become the prime minister’s Europe adviser and sherpa in the Brexit negations, a role currently held by Olly Robbins, which would likely move the role from a civil service appointment to a political one.

A number of cabinet appointments are expected to be made this evening and into tomorrow.

A source close to the incoming prime minister said he would be “finalising” the senior positions in his new administration ahead of his formal entrance to No.10 today.

Among the likely appointments in what sources close to Johnson are calling “a cabinet for modern Britain”, home secretary Sajid Javid is being tipped to move to the Treasury as chancellor, Former cabinet minister Priti Patel, who resigned after it was revealed she had held secret meetings with Israeli government officials during a family holiday, has been named as Javid’s possible successor at the Home Office.

Cabinet Office minister for implementation Oliver Dowden, who has responsibility for the civil service, is also expected to get a new job, creating a key vacancy in the central department.

Additional reporting by Alain Tolhurst, the chief reporter at CSW's sister site PoliticsHome

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