Johnson Appoints New Chief of Staff Following Cummings’ Departure

November 27, 2020 Updated: November 27, 2020

Prime Minister Boris Johnson has appointed a new chief of staff following the abrupt exit earlier this month of the previous incumbent, Dominic Cummings, who was seen as the driving force behind Johnson’s strategy on Brexit and most other policies.

Johnson is reshaping his senior team of advisers following the departure of Cummings who masterminded the Brexit referendum and was a key player in Johnson’s 2016 election campaign.

His departure followed hot on the heels of the resignation of Downing Street’s Director of Communications, Lee Cain, and has been billed as a chance for a reset for the Prime Minister.

Restore Trust in Leadership

Johnson appointed Dan Rosenfield, a business consultant, and former treasury official, as his new chief of staff on Thursday as he tries to restore trust in his leadership.

Johnson has received extensive criticism from his own backbenchers over his handling of the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus crisis as well as opposition from his party over Brexit policies.

Recent Conservative push back against Johnson’s tough UK virus restrictions has included dissent from the 70 strong COVID Recovery Group of his own MPs.

Threatening to rebel against the party whips they sent a letter to Johnson at the end of last week saying they can’t support any further lockdown unless the government can prove its effectiveness.

They said restrictions should be removed forthwith and called for a “different and enduring strategy for living with the virus.”

Powerful Role

The chief of staff role is a powerful, non-ministerial role and the appointee is the highest personal aide and advisor to the Prime Minister.

The post holder needs to support the Prime Minister’s authority but negotiate and sometimes conciliate between the cabinet, the government’s own backbench, and its party.

Johnson’s decision to hire Rosenfield, a relatively low profile former civil servant marks a change of direction for a prime minister whose inner circle was previously largely made up of alumni from the 2016 Brexit campaign, with Cummings at the fore.

Rosenfield joins from Hakluyt, a strategic advisory firm for businesses and investors, where he has been global head of corporate clients and head of the UK business since 2016, the government said.

‘A Class Act’

He previously worked at Bank of America as a managing director and spent over a decade working in the finance ministry where he served as a senior aide to former finance ministers Alistair Darling and George Osborne.

“Dan is a class act and an inspired appointment,” said Rupert Harrison, a former aide to Osborne. He described Rosenfield as bright, tough, and politically savvy.

Rosenfield will begin work on Dec. 7 and officially take up his new role on Jan. 1 Downing Street said.

He will take over from Lord Udny-Lister who was appointed to bridge the gap after Cummings’ and Cain’s departures.

Lily Zhou and Reuters contributed to this report.