Liz Truss’ senior adviser has been suspended as Downing Street ordered aides to stop “unacceptable” briefings against Tory MPs.
An investigation has been launched into communications adviser Jason Stein by the Cabinet Office’s Propriety and Ethics Team. It comes after it was reported over the weekend that a Downing Street source described former Chancellor and Health Secretary Sajid Javid as “s***”.
It is the latest blow for Truss in her first few weeks as Prime Minister. She has already sacked her former Chancellor Kwasi Kwarteng and replaced him with Jeremy Hunt, with Hunt ripping up his predecessor’s mini-budget. It has now been confirmed that Suella Braverman has also left Truss’ cabinet.
Who is Jason Stein?
Stein has worked closely with Truss since she took over as Prime Minister, and also in her role as Treasury minster. Truss’ close adviser was also credited with being a key fixture in her leadership campaign and led the communications strategy as she went up against Rishi Sunak in the race.
Prior to this he had been a key fixture in Westminster. He worked with former special adviser to Amber Rudd, former Work and Pensions Secretary. Stein left the role when Rudd resigned over a clash with Boris Johnson on key policy.
Stein moved to work in corporate PR. His most notably role was managing the PR for Prince Andrew. He resigned from the role after he advised the Prince not to go through with the infamous Emily Maitlis Newsnight interview, with the Prince acting against his wishes.
Why is he being investigated?
Over the weekend, the Sunday Times reported that a senior Downing Street source had described former Chancellor Sajid Javid as “s***” while describing the candidates considered for the then-vacant role of Chancellor after Kwarteng’s firing. The quote widely reported said: “The Prime Minister laughed out loud at the suggestion. She has sat in the Cabinet with Javid for 10 years and she knows who is good and who is s***.”
Javid was said to be considered alongside the eventual appointment Hunt, however the source reported said that the MP has not actually been considered to replace Kwarteng. No 10 declined to say whether Stein had been suspended over this specific briefing.
However the Prime Minister’s press secretary did not deny that Mr Stein had been suspended, saying: “I am not going to get into individual staffing matters. But the Prime Minister has made very clear to her team that some of the sort of briefings that we have seen are completely unacceptable about parliamentary colleagues and they must stop.”
Truss’ press secretary added when questioned if Stein has voluntarily left his role: “That’s not my understanding.”
Javid had been poised to ask a question to Truss during today’s PMQs session, with speculation that he could directly refer to the briefing. However, this was scrapped at the last minute, as it was announced before PMQs that Stein had been suspended.