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Fri, 3 April 2020

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Number 10 tightens grip on Spad recruitment as it launches hunt for aides from outside Westminster

Number 10 tightens grip on Spad recruitment as it launches hunt for aides from outside Westminster
2 min read

Downing Street has sought to formalise the recruitment process for special advisers in further sign of a push to centralise power around Boris Johnson.

The hiring of ministerial aides, known as SpAds, has long been seen as opaque – with positions rarely advertised to outside candidates.

But Number 10 have now set up a website called, with the aim of attracting people from the corporate world rather than those who work in and around Westminster.

It follows a call by Boris Johnson's chief aide Dominic Cummings for “weirdos and misfits” to apply for roles alongside him in a bizarre job ad posted on his personal blog.

The new site is calling for those with a "track record of success working in communications or digital fields to apply", to help "support the Government’s work to level-up the country".

It reads: “Traditionally these roles are not made available for anyone to apply, but it is the Conservative Party’s ambition for the whole country to be represented in government, and the Party is therefore encouraging talented applicants from all walks of life and from all parts of the UK to apply to work at the heart of government.”

The Government has hired the firm Hanbury Strategy to oversee the new system, which will mean every new SpAd has to be screened and vetted by the Conservative Party.

And no appointment will be approved without the sign-off of Lee Cain, Downing Street’s director of communications.

This removes the power from individual ministers to hire who they would prefer, handing more control to Downing Street.

It comes after Sajid Javid resigned as Chancellor over plans to sack all his advisors and merge the Treasury SpAd team with Number 10 in a joint economic unit.

Earlier this week it emerged a senior civil servant is being appointed to improve the working conditions of government special advisers.

And there were calls for Number 10 to look again at how advisers are hired following the resignation of Andrew Sabisky over his "racist" remarks, minister Kwasi Kwarteng said.

A Downing Street source said on Thursday: "We want to find experienced candidates who are prepared to work hard and help us unleash Britain's potential - in particular, we want people who have a background in advising business leaders and SMEs.

"Currently, talent is spread equally around the country but opportunity isn't.

"We want to change that and encourage people from all backgrounds to come and help us build a brighter future for our country."


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