WALTER CRONXITE, our political editor, on the latest instance of ‘jobs for the boys’ as the Croydon clique takes a key position in Downing Street
At a time of her greatest political peril, with the looming prospect of a “No Deal Brexit” and with public school-educated twerps such as Boris Johnson and Jacob Rees-Mogg lining up Conservative Party leadership challenges, Theresa May, the Tory Prime Minister, has turned to a bloke who used to be in charge of the Pick ‘n Mix at Woolies to be her political adviser.
Jason Cummings, a Croydon councillor, has taken to describing himself as “political adviser to PM”. This is understood to mean he advises May, rather than BBC Radio 4’s early evening news programme of the same name. It is quite a step up for someone who, before throwing himself into the realm of evangelical Christian Toryism in south London was managing shelf-stackers at Superdrug and Woolworths.
And whatever happened to Woolworths?
It is another coup at the heart of government for Gavin Barwell, who after being rejected by the electorate of Croydon Central in 2017 has set about empire building inside No10 Downing Street, where he is May’s Chief of Staff.
Until Barwell lost his MP’s seat 14 months ago, Cummings was one of his parliamentary staffers. In May, Cummings was re-elected to Croydon Council, where he now represents Shirley South ward.
Another former member of Barwell’s Westminster staff, and also a Croydon councillor, the oleaginous Mario Creatura, has also washed up in Downing Street on a generous SPAD’s salary of up to £70,000, basically for looking after the PM’s Twitter feed.
But the idea that Cummings should have the ear of the Prime Minister at such a crucial time for the nation’s future is something which has caused a flurry of fear among some of his colleagues at Croydon Council.
“He’s not even good enough to be an elected councillor in Croydon, never mind advising Theresa May on politics when she is fierce attack from within her own party and has Brexit to sort out,” said one Katharine Street source.
“When you think of the high-achievers around the country, or the calibre of the political brains who have helped steer No10 in the past, the top lawyers or the big accountancy firms such as KPMG who might have their best talents available, and May’s been persuaded to turn to a bloke who’s biggest experience in business was managing a branch of Woolworths.
“It’s a sign that May is increasingly friendless.
“People around the Town Hall have known Cummings for years. When I think of him, I am reminded of what Clive Anderson said when interviewing Jeffrey Archer: ‘Is there no beginnings to your talents?’ No wonder the country’s in a terrible state.”
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