ANDREW PIERCE: Is new Cabinet Secretary facing the axe already? Simon Case is being viewed as terminally weak after he failed to persuade Boris Johnson to sack Priti Patel
A period of calm was expected to follow Boris Johnson’s chief adviser Dominic Cummings’ dramatic departure from Downing Street last month.
But now Whitehall is awash with rumours that Simon Case, the youngest ever Cabinet Secretary at only 41, may also be one of the shortest-lived.
The Cambridge-educated Case has previously worked for David Cameron and Theresa May before being seconded to work as Prince William’s right-hand man for nearly two years.
He was brought back to No 10 in September by Cummings to help the latter in his planned ‘hard rain’ initiative — a dramatic shake-up of the civil service.
Whitehall is awash with rumours that Simon Case, (pictured) the youngest ever Cabinet Secretary at only 41, may also be one of the shortest-lived
Ironically, Case is now being viewed as terminally weak by fellow civil servants after he failed to persuade Boris Johnson to sack Home Secretary Priti Patel following the report by ministerial ethics adviser Sir Alex Allan that implicated her in the bullying of staff. Allan quit when the PM stood by Patel.
But should Case really be surprised at such disloyalty? Shortly after he took up his post, Case was involved in a 100-person conference call ‘role-playing’ a second coronavirus wave alongside Michael Gove, Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster (CDL).
When Gove gently reprimanded civil servants for what he saw as their improper briefing of him for the exercise, Case is said to have observed: ‘You made your points far more gently than I would have done, CDL.’
The rebuke went down like a lead balloon.
Case is now being viewed as terminally weak by fellow civil servants after he failed to persuade Boris Johnson to sack Home Secretary Priti Patel (pictured) following the report by ministerial ethics adviser Sir Alex Allan that implicated her in the bullying of staff
His relationship with the PM is not good either. My Whitehall mole says: ‘Cummings persuaded Boris to elevate Case to Cabinet Secretary and now he’s gone. The PM has found he doesn’t have a lot to say to Case. A lot of ministers object to him because they think he is a creature of Cummings.’
Unlike his predecessor, Sir Mark Sedwill, Case doesn’t always join in weekly meetings of the most senior Whitehall mandarins.
‘Perhaps he has other, more important work to do,’ my source adds, ‘but his absence is noted.’
Is Boris likely to move against Case? ‘If we leave the EU with No Deal, Case will have a baptism of fire. It will be a huge test,’ muses my mole.
Egg on his face? Not Ed
After his tortuous attempts to eat a bacon sandwich were infamously caught on camera when he was Labour leader, Ed Miliband wisely stayed out of the Scotch egg debate.
‘When it comes to pork-related products, you know my history. I like a Scotch egg but won’t be eating one publicly.’
Overheard in the House: two Tory MPs talking about Britain being the first to approve a Covid vaccine. ‘I haven’t been this happy since Dominic Cummings was sacked.’
For many, the House of Lords is an out-of-touch, private members’ club populated by hereditary peers who have no place in a modern democracy.
But last week, it made history for all the right reasons. In a vote on EU exit legislation, Conservative peer Lord Glendonbrook took part in a vote at 2.20am in Australia (4.20pm British time), using the new ‘PeerHub’ app, while quarantined after a non-stop flight to Darwin.
‘I believe it is the first and furthest casting of a parliamentary vote, 8,450 miles from the chamber,’ his Lordship said a tad smugly.
It’s the usual double standards from Labour MPs. Former Shadow Home Secretary Diane Abbott (pictured) was one of the most vocal critics of the ‘cruel’ flights — which were ordered under the terms of the UK Borders Act 2007, an Act passed by the last Labour Government. And Abbott? Of course, she voted for the legislation.
It’s the usual double standards from Labour MPs criticising ministers for trying to deport Jamaican murderers, rapists and drug dealers by invoking links with the Windrush scandal.
Former Shadow Home Secretary Diane Abbott was one of the most vocal critics of the ‘cruel’ flights — which were ordered under the terms of the UK Borders Act 2007, an Act passed by the last Labour Government.
And Abbott? Of course, she voted for the legislation.
Rishi wrong-footed by his wellies
Chancellor Rishi Sunak is one of the few Cabinet ministers to emerge from the pandemic with an enhanced reputation.
But he has not always been so sure-footed. Sunak, according to Michael Ashcroft’s biography Going For Broke, wore blue wellies shortly after being selected as the Tory candidate for Richmond, Yorkshire.
The colour marked the eager politician down ‘as a townie’ in the farming community.
‘It did not go unnoticed, but nobody judged too harshly,’ he adds.
Will Sunak get the order of the boot from voters when the inevitable tax rises kick in?
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