Tory policy guru George Freeman stands down from No 10 role and calls for chair Patrick McGloughlin to resign

Posted On: 
20th November 2017

Downing Street policy guru George Freeman dramatically stood down from his role today and called for party chair Patrick McGloughlin to quit.

George Freeman chaired the No 10 policy unit
Credit: 
The House

His resignation as No 10 policy board chair follows the revelation by Total Politics that he told Theresa May the Conservatives risked being seen as "soulless, technocratic managerial defenders of a divisive austerity Brexit".

Labour said he had "caught the essence of the Conservative party" with his comments and argued his decision to quit "speaks volumes on the current state of the Tories in Government".

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In a statement on the ConservativeHome website today, Mr Freeman called for a "bold programme" of change including dumping the current party chair.

Mr McLoughlin has faced calls to quit after what was considered a disastrous Tory conference at which a protester got close enough to the Prime Minister to hand her a fake P45.

Mid-Norfolk MP Mr Freeman wrote: “We could regain the political momentum by the Prime Minister announcing that we will use this unprecedented window to instigate a bold programme of Conservative Party renewal, with a new chairman and political team at CCHQ to oversee the intellectual, organisational and cultural renaissance of a conservatism fit to shape and lead us through the 21st century.

“After the failure of an ill-conceived election campaign which let down the Prime Minister, the Party grassroots, 30 good Conservative MPs who lost their seats, and our professional team at CCHQ whose advice was ignored, an ambitious programme of Conservative Party reform would signal real commitment to learn the lessons and restore both the low morale, and falling numbers, of our membership.

“Given the deepening disconnection between the Conservative Party and the new generation of aspirational voters under 45, the new intellectual battle of ideas reshaping our political landscape, this is now urgent.”

The No 10 policy board will not be established following Mr Freeman’s resignation, but PoliticsHome understands he plans to set up a new policy board of backbench Tory MPs with a view to taking their ideas to Number 10.

 A source said Mr Freeman agreed with Downing Street chief of staff Gavin Barwell that he would be more able to speak freely about Tory party renewal if he was not “constantly connected with the Prime Minister”.

Shadow Cabinet Minister Jon Trickett blasted: “For a man who once said that the ‘raison d’ être’ of his role in No 10 was to face the challenge of renewal in office, his resignation speaks volumes on the current state of the Tories in Government.

“He has caught the essence of the Conservative Party in a two word phrase: lazy privilege. It tells you all that’s wrong with Theresa May’s Government because they are working for the few, while Labour is working for the many.”