Four in the frame as Theresa May’s policy board is officially killed off
George Freeman has resigned from the board - months after it stopped functioning.
The prime minister's policy board was wound down after the general election, PoliticsHome reported last week. And now the chair of the board, George Freeman, has finally “stood down” from the post.
In an article on ConservativeHome, Freeman indicates that he was the one who killed off the policy board, saying the reason for his standing aside from the job is “to focus on my role as chair of the Conservative Policy Forum”.
It means that the Tory MP can now set out his blue-skies thinking without having to worry how it plays with the prime minister’s team. He is also looking to bring the policy board back with more backbench representation and different name.
But sources close to Number 10 suggest that Theresa May’s chief of staff Gavin Barwell was equally happy to pull the trigger on the policy board. According to one insider, Downing Street was a bit “twitchy” whenever the papers described Freeman as the prime minister's policy chief. The death of the policy board means that Number 10 can stop worrying about Freeman being seen as May’s spokesman every time he opens his mouth.
Others blame May’s fearsome former chiefs of staff, Nick Timothy and Fiona Hill, for inflicting fatal damage on May’s policy board many months ago.
One senior Tory source tells Total Politics: "The board was constituted in Number 10 as a conduit for fresh thinking… But through the reign of terror Nick and Fiona had such a strong sense of their own agenda that it ended up being very much a Number 10 board for getting MPs to contribute on stuff that Number 10 was planning to do.
"It was helpful for the chiefs of staff in terms of getting MPs input in to their agenda. But the calamity of the manifesto and the election campaign shredded the credibility of it."