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The '22's choice to head Downing Street's Policy Unit was Peter Lilley

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By Paul Goodman

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I'm also told that Downing Street's original plan was to have junior Ministers taking the lead on policy developments in policy areas for which they are responsible - until senior figures on the '22 pointed out that Ministers, as members of the executive branch of government, are not well placed to represent opinion on the backbenches.

The '22 executive apparently believes that the new board can dovetail with the '22's own policy groups, which I wrote about recently - and that its members, who will be assigned specific policy areas, can work closely and productively with the '22. This isn't to say that all has gone smoothly: my reading of the reaction to the appointments is that they have a bit of a mixed reception.

Matthew Barrett was first to point out that building Jo Johnson up to knock Boris Johnson down would be a typical whips' wheeze - one, by the way, that Downing Street is denying very strongly, though the Mail is pointing a finger this morning at George Osborne.  I wish Johnson well, but my judgement is that a Lilley appointment would have done more to soothe backbench nerves.


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