Who is Guto Harri? Boris Johnson announces two key appointments following resignations

Following a series of resignations, the Prime Minister announced two changes to senior roles

Boris Johnson is set to make more changes to his Downing Street team in a bid to ease concerns of backbenchers who are wavering over his future.

The Prime Minister made two major changes to his top team over the weekend.

Steve Barclay, currently Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, will become the Prime Minister’s chief of staff and will be “in charge of integrating the new Office of the Prime Minister and the Cabinet Office, driving the Government’s agenda more efficiently and ensuring it is better aligned with the Cabinet and backbenchers”.

Guto Harri joins Johnson’s team as director of communications.

There is expected to be further announcements in the coming days with what No 10 said would be a “particular focus on improving engagement and liaison with MPs”, as the partygate saga continues to put the PM in jeopardy.

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Dame Emily Lawson is expected to be announced as the new permanent secretary this week, according to The Times.

Dame Emily, who currently runs NHS England’s vaccination programme, was seconded to Downing Street’s delivery unit – a team in charge of ensuring the Government delivers on its policies – in April last year before returning to the health service in October.

Johnson lost five aides in the space of 24 hours including Munira Mirza, who quit as Johnson’s policy chief on Thursday.

It has already been announced that Tory MP Andrew Griffith would replace Ms Mirza, who quit with a damning letter criticising Johnson for his use of a “scurrilous” smear against Labour leader Sir Keir, over the failure to prosecute Jimmy Savile.

What has Boris Johnson said?

The Prime Minister said: “This week I promised change, so that we can get on with the job the British public elected us to do.

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“We need to continue our recovery from the pandemic, help hundreds of thousands more people into work, and deliver our ambitious agenda to level up the entire country, improving people’s opportunities regardless of where they’re from.

“The changes I’m announcing to my senior team today will improve how No 10 operates, strengthen the role of my Cabinet and backbench colleagues, and accelerate our defining mission to level up the country.”

Who is Guto Harri?

Guto Harri is a former journalist

Guto Harri is a familiar face to many. A former BBC journalist, the 55-year-old Welshman quit GB News last year following a row over him taking the knee during a debate on the racism directed towards England football players.

He was Johnson’s spokesman and chief of staff during his first term as London mayor.

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Harri will replace Jack Doyle, who was reportedly at two of the 12 events that are under investigation by police looking at alleged lockdown breaches.

Although Harris is considered an ally of Johnson, he has been critical of the PM and called him a “hugely divisive figure”.

He once described Ms Mirza as “the perfect counter to those critics who suspected the worse of Boris”.

Who is Steve Barclay?

Steve Barclay is Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster

Steve Barclay replaces Dan Rosenfield as the Prime Minister’s top special adviser, and will also continue his role in the Cabinet Office and as an MP.

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He tweeted that it was “an honour” to take up the role.

Mr Rosenfield’s position was considered untenable when Sue Gray’s interim inquiry criticised “failures of leadership” at the heart of Government.

In 2018 Barclay was appointed Brexit Secretary by Theresa May following the resignation of Dominic Raab. He has since served Johnson’s Government as Chief Secretary to the Treasury and Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster.

Barclay’s appointment has already drawn criticism from former Tory minister Rory Stewart, who said that the job was “incompatible” with his role as an MP.

The 49-year-old has been the MP for North East Cambridgeshire since 2010.

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Stewart tweeted: “Chief of staff to the leader of a major country is a definitional 7 day a week job. It is simply not compatible with constituency service or duties and votes in parliament. To do it properly and seriously he would have to resign as an MP. What is Boris Johnson thinking?”

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