Boris Johnson has appointed Dominic Cummings’ protege to head up Number 10’s “union unit”, prompting accusations the prime minister is “completely clueless about Scotland”.
Oliver Lewis, who was a key member of Vote Leave, has taken over from former Ochil and South Perthshire MP Luke Graham, who was ousted this week after a bitter row over strategy.
The decision to remove Mr Graham has received mixed reaction, with some in the Scottish Tory party saying there had not been enough “action” from the union unit under his leadership.
One senior party source was left shocked by the move, however, telling us: “Luke was well respected in that role and was doing a great job; he was basically headhunted for it. The fact he’s been sacked is pretty shocking.”
‘Completely clueless about Scotland’
Mr Graham’s departure comes just a day after the prime minister’s press secretary, Allegra Stratton, said he was a “very, very, very valued member of staff”.
Mr Lewis, who was David Frost’s deputy during the Brexit negotiations, is said to be preparing a more “aggressive” strategy to take the fight to the SNP.
The SNP’s deputy Westminster leader, Kirsten Oswald, said the appointment would only “drive up support for independence even further”.
She said: “By installing Dominic Cummings‘ Brexit apprentice as head of the so-called ‘union unit’ the prime minister is demonstrating, yet again, that he is completely clueless about Scotland.
— Dan O'Donoghue (@MrDanDonoghue) February 4, 2021
“This botched Tory plot also raises serious questions over the misuse of taxpayer funds for political campaigning.
“It’s clear the Tories are using public money to build a party political campaign team in the run-up to the Scottish Parliament elections.”
Asked about the change in staffing at the unit, the prime minister’s spokesman said: “The union is an incredibly important focus of the prime minister and the Number 10 Union Unit will continue to support him on that.
“The prime minister thinks all parts of the UK are stronger together and he will continue to be the voice of the majority of Scottish people who voted to keep the UK together and he will always stand against those trying to separate the UK, which is why it remains an important focus.”