Damian McBride denies secretly backing Brexit campaign
Damian McBride is not secretly backing the campaign to take Britain out of the European Union, PoliticsHome has learned.
Gordon Brown's former spin doctor - now a key adviser to Shadow Defence Secretary Emily Thornberry - was plunged into fresh controversy last night after he accidentally posted a private message on his Twitter account which appeared to be offering advice to senior Brexit-backer Michael Gove.
The hastily-deleted communication said: "V good! BTW, I'll email you another VAT-related idea this evening. Just in case there's a day/interview where MG is looking for a new line."
But PoliticsHome understands that the message was meant for a friend with connections to Vote Leave who had asked him for advice on their pledge to reduce VAT on fuel if the UK opts for Brexit in the referendum on 23 June.
The tax on goods and services was Mr McBride's area of expertise when he was a civil servant in the Treasury.
A friend of Mr McBride said: "He's a bit of a VAT nerd, and was helping out a mate on a very minor matter, but he is absolutely not backing or advising the Leave campaign."
Mr McBride was forced to resign as Gordon Brown’s spin doctor in 2009 after emails emerged showing plans to smear Tory MPs.
He returned to work for Labour as Ms Thornberry's political adviser in February.