Johnson interferes with neutrality of civil servants

“Leaked Doc Reveals Civil Servants Told To Report ‘Unhelpful Narratives’ On Brexit To No.10:

Boris Johnson has been warned to “tread carefully” amid claims Number 10 aides are asking civil servants to operate an “overtly political” Brexit media strategy.

A Cabinet Office document leaked to HuffPost UK has revealed all government communications staff must report “unhelpful narratives” in the press and online to Downing Street.

While civil servants work for the government and are expected to ensure ministers can deliver on policy, they also have a duty to be impartial.

The document is further evidence suggesting Johnson’s most senior adviser Dominic Cummings – the ex-boss of Vote Leave once described by David Cameron as a “career psychopath” – is prepared to introduce sweeping change in order to deliver Brexit by October 31.

The controversial advisor is reported to have already had a huge impact on Number 10 since arriving last month, embarking on a so-called “jihad on spads [special advisers]” by cancelling annual leave and sacking aides from the Theresa May era.

According to the document, staff have been instructed to update Downing Street from 6am each morning with “all rebuttal lines to be approved by Number 10”.

The unit must also “counter emerging narratives” and ensure all departments push the Downing Street line, adding “if action not completed, escalate as needed”.

Shadow Cabinet Office minister Jon Trickett said Boris Johnson was “playing with fire”, adding: “Political neutrality is a central principle which has endured in relation to civil servants for more than 150 years.

“It is essential that the present government does not breach this basic part of the constitution. To do so would further imperil faith in politics, which is already at a low ebb.”

Alastair Campbell, who acted as former PM Tony Blair’s communications chief, called on civil servants to keep a record of “overtly political” requests.

Dave Penman of the FDA union, which represents senior civil servants, has also warned Johnson he risks “politicising” the work of his members.

Downing Street said it would not comment on leaked documents.

A source, however, stressed that the guidance was issued by the Cabinet Office and the Department for Exiting the EU, not Number 10, and was part of a standard cross-government communications plan.

But Campbell said: “There is a clear division between the legitimate work civil servants must do in support of ministers implementing government policy and this overtly political work which they are being asked to do.

“Clearly Johnson and his team wish to see that division straddled.”

He added that the cabinet secretary should issue clear guidelines on “the limits of what is permissible for a civil servant and assure civil servants they will not be punished for refusing to do political work.”

We will all make Boris Johnson much richer, whatever happens …

Well, it makes a change from blaming immigrants and asylum-seekers for pocketing our cash.

“Taxpayers face handing millionaire Boris Johnson a huge annual fund for life – even if he’s forced out by Christmas.

The Mirror has confirmed he can claim a bumper public duties fund after he leaves office, no matter how little time he spends in No10.

That means we could start handing the Prime Minister the full Public Duty Cost Allowance even if he is dumped in a no confidence vote or a general election this Autumn.

The Old Etonian also stands to trouser a £18,860 severance payment for leaving as PM – on top of the £16,876 he pocketed for quitting as Foreign Secretary last year.

But he’d miss out on a special Prime Ministerial pension worth half his salary, as the bumper packages were scrapped in 2013….

The fund is currently worth £115,000 a year and every living ex-PM, plus Nick Clegg who qualifies specially, claimed more than £110,000 each last year.

Sir John Major, 76, claimed £114,935 despite leaving No10 22 years ago.

But all those men served for more than two years each, most of them much longer, while Boris Johnson has a fragile Commons majority of one.

The PM risks being ousted within months if his bids to ram though a Brexit deal – or a No Deal – end in failure.

Meanwhile Mr Johnson made around £750,000 in earnings outside his job as an MP in the 12 months before becoming PM. …

The Cabinet Office did not clarify whether the PDCA covers any security or safety measures for ex-PMs, but pointed us to public documents that say it pays for “necessary office costs and secretarial costs”.”

We paid our 4 ex-Prime Ministers (now 5, and one ex-Deputy) more than half a million pounds last year

Public money spent on supporting the offices of Britain’s five surviving former leaders has jumped by nearly 80 per cent in six years – despite the fact that many of them have gone on to become independently wealthy after leaving 10 Downing Street.

New figures show the costs of supporting the offices of ex-PMs Sir John Major, Tony Blair, Gordon Brown, David Cameron, as well as the former deputy PM Sir Nick Clegg, increased from £331,000 a year in 2013/14 – the first figures that are available – to £589,000 last year. …”