Downing Street spin doctor attacks Cabinet ministers for upstaging PM's NHS announcement

Posted On: 
11th January 2019

Theresa May's top spin doctor has accused Cabinet ministers of attempting to upstage the Prime Minister's boost for the NHS.

Downing Street believe Theresa May is being undermined by Cabinet colleagues.
PA Images

In an extraordinary attack, Downing Street director of communications Robbie Gibb said Mrs May had been left "frustrated" by briefings to Sunday newspaper by her colleagues as she prepared to unveil the Government's 10-year plan for the ailing health service.

An email from Mr Gibb to special advisers - who work for individual ministers - and leaked to the Daily Mail lays bare his anger and shines a line on the tensions at the heart of government as the Prime Minister struggles to persuade MPs to back her over Brexit.

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The email says: "We deliberately starved out the Downing St weekend (media) grid to give the launch of PM’s NHS plan the best coverage. But because of briefings and articles by ministers in Sunday papers, attention was diverted elsewhere.

"To add to our frustration, No 10 had no warning of two ministerial op-eds and there was a briefing on a policy change we did not approve. I’d like to say it was out of the ordinary, but it isn’t."

Mr Gibb then adds: "Let me remind you that all Government special advisers work for the Prime Minister as well as your own Secretary of State. This situation cannot continue."

Although the email does not refer to any ministers by name, it is thought Mr Gibb is referring to the behaviour of Amber Rudd, Sajid Javid and Liz Truss - all of whom are tipped as possible successors to Mrs May.

The Observer ran a story on Ms Rudd further delaying the rollout of Universal Credit, while Ms Truss wrote an article for a Sunday newspaper vowing to scrap "white elephant" government projects.