Plenty of newspapers have been following the scent of my magazine report that Lynton Crosby is about to return to the Tory fold. Here’s something to help them along. One Tory government source tells me that the Tory leadership ‘are trying to twist his arm’ because ‘there’s a recognition that he would bring some focus, discipline and clarity to the campaign that was missing last time.’

My Whitehall whisperer says that negotiations have been going on for some time. Apparently, the biggest impediment is not George Osborne, who would have to surrender control of election strategy, but Crosby’s exorbitant fees. The Tories ‘would need to pay him out of the CCHQ budget’ because the ‘civil service salary would not touch what he’s earning now’.

Crosby is renowned for his combative style and willingness to play negative, so how would my informant like to see the Antipodean maestro spin things up? ‘He would take a more robust approach to the Liberal Democrats, which is needed, and [I] would also love to hear him taking on the civil service.’ Wouldn’t we all.

Tags: Conservatives, George Osborne, Lynton Crosby