So farewell, Nick and Fi. As Theresa May’s once formidable co-chiefs of staff walk out of No 10 for good following the disastrous election result, the Prime Minister has appointed Gavin Barwell as their replacement.
If Barwell sounds familiar, that’s because he is the former housing minister who lost his seat in Croydon Central on Thursday. The author of ‘how to win a seat in a marginal’, Barwell will have to shelve any plans for a sequel (suggested title: ‘how to lose a marginal seat’), as he moves into No 10.
Barwell’s appointment will be seen as an attempt by May to finally show some contrition and reach out to those MPs who lost their seats – after she was criticised for failing to pay tribute to them in her post-election statement. Still, while May says she is ‘delighted’ to announce the appointment, Mr S can’t help but find Barwell a curious choice. Barwell was a rigorous Remain campaigner who once told his fellow MPs to stop ‘banging on’ about Europe. It follows that his appointment will fuel concerns from some in the party that May could now opt for a ‘soft’ Brexit.
If that is the case, Mr S suspects Barwell will have to get used to his former colleagues banging on about Europe a lot more in the coming months.