Dominic Cummings and Munira Mirza – two key advisors to prime minister Boris Johnson – will be moving into the Cabinet Office in the latest sign of a major shake up of the civil service.
Johnson is moving his most senior advisors to 70 Whitehall and removing the door that separates the two buildings in a symbolic gesture that unites the two office complexes.
Mirza, who is the chair of Downing Street’s policy unit, and Cummings will shift offices in September in a move to strengthen No 10’s grip on the department which is responsible for implementing the prime minister’s policy agenda throughout Whitehall.
Around 20 political officials – believed to include Cummings and Mirza – will make the jump and be expected to work alongside Cabinet Office civil servants in a move which one government source said was decreed by the prime minister himself.
Cummings has been a staunch critic of how Whitehall operates and has long campaigned for its overhaul. He has also accused the Cabinet Office’s top brass of limiting the autonomy of individual ministers.
Last year, he proposed a complete overhaul of the department and sent in a ‘red team’ of experts ‘operating next to, and in some senses above, the Cabinet Office’ working to stress-test all government decisions and policies.
In a research paper by Policy Exchange, a thinktank with close links to the current cabinet, No 10 is being urged to expand the size and reach of its operations and transfer the Economic and Domestic Affairs Secretariat, which oversees all domestic policy from the Cabinet Office, to the direct control of the prime minister.
Other changes occurring to Whitehall’s infrastructure includes the merging of the Department for International Development and the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, the replacement of Sir Mark Sedwill as cabinet secretary, and a cut in civil servants working in government communications.