Boris Johnson and Dominic Cummings attempting to create ‘presidential-style’ operation at Downing Street

Prime Minister Boris Johnson and his partner Carrie Symonds enter Downing Street. (Photo by Giannis Alexopoulos/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

Prime Minister Boris Johnson and his partner Carrie Symonds enter Downing Street. (Photo by Giannis Alexopoulos/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

Giannis Alexopoulos/NurPhoto

Boris Johnson and Dominic Cummings are attempting to create a ‘presidential-style’ operation akin to the White House at Downing Street, it has been claimed.

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The Institute for Government’s Alex Thomas said that the pair are planning a “model more like the White House”.

“Boris Johnson’s frustration with the comparatively small support structure in No. 10 means it’s likely he’ll build a stronger centre — either an actual Department of the PM or something like that in all but name,” he told Politico.

The political website points out that part of the moves include pulling the Treasury closer to Number 10, imposing discipline on advisers, made political appointments to the civil servants, “forced out” top figures resistant to the changes, and streamlined government communications.

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Downing Street previously announced plans for a daily press briefing which will be televised and fronted by a spokesperson who will earn a large salary for spinning the government line, much like in Donald Trump’s administration.

The Times noted that over half of new appointments to departmental boards “have gone to close political colleagues of cabinet ministers rather than figures from the world of business”.

They add that “of the 13 appointments that have taken place this year, eight have gone to Tory Party insiders”, which includes senior ministers’ friends, donors, and associates of the Vote Leave campaign.

“It feels like the aim of this administration is to have a bit more of a presidential style, where the centre controls things a little bit more,” one civil servant explained to Politico.

A Downing Street official denied they were attempting to replicate the American administration, but said “there is definitely a desire in Downing Street to have more reach into departments.”

But there are doubts over the effectiveness of the plan. The Institute for Government’s Thomas said: “Over time he’ll find it harder to control things from the centre as MPs assert themselves and cabinet ministers disagree. It’s harder for a British PM to ride that out than an American president.”

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