Philip Hammond’s former top advisor has confirmed what many in Westminster have known for some time. Writing in the Guardian, ex-special advisor Poppy Trowbridge came out all guns blazing, calling Boris Johnson ‘reckless’ and accusing him of ‘mistaken posturing and trash talk’.
In the article, entitled ‘Boris Johnson talks tough but still hasn’t said what he’s doing to get a Brexit deal’, she laments the failures of May’s withdrawal agreement and writes in support of spreadsheet Phil’s bid to stave off no deal. But the Chancellor’s former SpAd also admitted the extent of Hammond-era resistance to Brexit. Responding to comments made by current PM, she writes:
‘At one point during my time in government, Johnson was secretly recorded telling a private, after-dinner, thinktank audience that “the Treasury, which is basically the heart of remain, has seized the risk – what they don’t want is friction at the borders. They don’t want any disruption.” No. No we didn’t.
‘He accused Treasury staff of “sacrificing all the medium and long-term gains amid fear of short-term disruption”. Quite right.’
‘How much “short-term disruption” is OK? How short is short term? It’s the opposite of what a public servant should aim to achieve.’
The admission is a telling one. Trowbridge, and no doubt her political master, appears to believe that the fundamental objective of a public servant is pursuing policies with minimal risk – even after the public has ordered their servants to carry out that policy.
Her intervention could also be an indication that Hammond has no desire to settle into the backbenches and keep schtum. Perhaps the so-called ‘Gaukeward squad’ are gearing up to Philabuster Boris’ own Brexit plans…