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Boris Johnson names two new aides after No 10 party turmoil

Boris Johnson has announced two new appointments to his backroom staff following a wave of resignations.

Cabinet Office minister Steve Barclay will become the PM’s chief of staff.

And Guto Harri, a former BBC correspondent and adviser to Mr Johnson when he was mayor of London, will become director of communications.

Mr Johnson said the moves would “improve how No 10 operates”. The PM is understood to be considering further changes to his top team.

It comes at the end of a difficult week for Mr Johnson, which saw five No 10 aides resign in 24 hours and the publication of the initial findings of the Sue Gray report into gatherings at Downing Street while Covid restrictions were in place.

Three of the departed senior aides were caught up in the lockdown parties row, including senior civil servant Martin Reynolds who sent out an invitation to a “bring your own booze” party.

But policy chief Munira Mirza quit over the PM’s false claim that Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer failed to prosecute Jimmy Savile when he was director of public prosecutions, and Mr Johnson’s refusal to apologise.

A number of Conservative MPs have submitted letters of no confidence in the prime minister over the parties row, with others thought to be considering this weekend whether to put in theirs.

Announcing the two new appointments, Mr Johnson said: “This week I promised change, so that we can get on with the job the British public elected us to do.

“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.”

Mr Barclay tweeted it was “an honour”, adding he would continue to serve in the Cabinet Office.

Tony Blair’s former chief of staff, Jonathan Powell, questioned how Mr Barclay could perform the role while still being an MP, describing it as a “full-time job”.

Labour’s deputy leader Angela Rayner called the new appointments a farce, adding that the prime minister had “clearly run out of serious people willing to serve under his chaotic and incompetent leadership”.

More announcements are expected in the coming days with what No 10 said would be a “particular focus on improving engagement and liaison with MPs”.

He is considering changes to the government whips office, which is responsible for party discipline, the BBC understands.

The prime minister is also being urged by senior figures in the party to make changes to the cabinet and discussions are under way.

Boris Johnson’s decision to appoint a serving politician to the recently-vacated post of chief of staff is unorthodox to say the least.

Clearly Mr Johnson wants trusted allies around him.

After so-called Partygate, he had to promise his MPs that he’d make significant changes to the Downing Street operation.

I’m told there will be a bigger staff shake-up in the coming week.

But some senior figures in the party have also been pressing him to make changes to his cabinet – and this time to look beyond his natural allies.

But with more MPs considering submitting letters of no confidence, it’s not clear if changes in Downing Street will convince enough of them not to try to change its current occupant.

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