Theresa May’s new comms chief was named in Tory ‘tapas plot’ report

Written by David Singleton on 6 July 2017 in Diary

Robbie Gibb was linked to attempts to make Michael Portillo into the Tory leader in 2000.

The senior BBC journalist Robbie Gibb has been named as Downing Street’s director of communications, as Theresa May finally begins to fill the vacuum at the heart of Number 10.

May had originally considered giving the job to her strategy director Chris Wilkins and also sounded out the BBC’s diplomatic editor James Landale.

But a BBC message to staff today said Gibb had accepted the post and would leave the corporation after 23 years.

Gibb is best known for being the head of the BBC’s political team at Westminster, a role which has seen him edit the Daily and Sunday Politics programmes.

He is also known by many in Westminster as the brother of Tory schools minister Nick Gibb.

And he is known by a few old hands for his alleged involvement in secret deal that Michael Portillo was said to have struck with Francis Maude, back in 2000.

The so-called Tapas plot was supposed to clear the way for Portillo to take over from William Hague as Tory leader.

One source claimed in 2000 that the Maude-Portillo pact was finalised in a Pimlico tapas bar well known as a scene of political intrigue. But Maude, then shadow chancellor, denied that it had occurred.

At the time, Gibb was chief of staff to Maude and was linked to a right wing pressure group, Conservative Way Forward that was helping right wingers such as Portillo.

A report in The Observer stated: "Robbie Gibb, Maude's chief-of-staff, is widely rumoured to be the driving force behind the group, but when asked about his involvement he said: 'I wish I had the time.’"


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