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Cameron considers joint Downing Street HQ with Osborne

Osborne & Cameron 2 I have just completed my 15,000 word guide to David Cameron's 'West Wing' - a guide to the key shadow cabinet members and staff advisers that have taken the Conservative Party to the edge of power.  It'll be formally published on Tuesday at our 'Inside David Cameron's Conservatives' conference.

I mention it today, though, because Fraser Nelson has previewed one of the key findings in today's News of the World (not online):

"I hear Cameron and Osborne have a novel idea for government: move in together.  They're thinking of sharing one big HQ, rather than settle down in No10 and the Treasury respectively."

As I've been studying Cameron's West Wing the most striking thing is the power of George Osborne.  George isn't just Shadow Chancellor; he's also General Election co-ordinator.  It is no exaggeration to say that as I've been meeting staffers over recent weeks in preparation for this guide, George Osborne's name is mentioned at least three times as often as David Cameron’s.  In reporting this I'm not suggesting that Osborne is more influential than the man who leads the Conservative Party.  He obviously isn't.  My conversations with staffers have focused on the workings of the Tory machine and it is clear that they defer to Osborne when key decisions of tactics, resource deployment and staffing are made.  If you look back on many of Project Cameron's biggest decisions - abandoning uber-modernisation, recruiting Andy Coulson, overhauling Boris Johnson's campaign - George Osborne's influence is enormous.

George Osborne's power is reflected in the geographical arrangement of the Tory leader's office.  See the crude sketch below:

Click on image to enlarge

Geography3 Osborne's staff, headed by Matt Hancock but also including the super-influentials, Rupert Harrison and Rohan Silva, sit within the leadership suite.  Also there, notably, is Oliver Letwin (who, I say in the report, is one of four shadow cabinet influentials).

OSBORNE OUTSIDE HMTThe proximity of the Osborne and Cameron offices is something the Tory leadership is anxious to retain if the Conservatives win the General Election.  I am not aware of definite plans for integrating Numbers 10 and 11 Downing Street but thinking is going in that direction.

Tim Montgomerie


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