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Revealed: Secret Hilton plan for Huhne/Warsi Party Chairman jobshare

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by Paul Goodman

We can reveal exclusively this morning that David Cameron's Downing Street guru, working in concert with senior Liberal Democrats, has drawn up crisis plans for the aftermath of the AV referendum.  Impeccable ConHome sources say that these include a Party Chairman jobshare whereby Huhne and Warsi will hold the post for six months each.

The scheme is only one of a series of "California or bust" schemes drawn up by Hilton and Andrew Cooper, the newly-appointed Director of Strategy, for what they fear will be the crisis-ridden aftermath of the AV referendum.  They have yet to be approved by the Prime Minister, but it is understood that the programme has won strong support from modernising Ministers such as Francis Maude, Oliver Letwin and Michael Gove.

Other ideas floated by the midget maestro mastermind include an social action weekend, whereby Conservative and Liberal Democrat MPs will undertake projects in each other's constituencies, a special "ever-closer union" session at next October's Party conference to be fronted by Liam Fox and Tim Farron, and a senior right-wing Minister to make "a powerful symbolic move by joining the LibDems".

One senior source explained: "Whatever the outcome, the AV referendum's aftermath will be hell for the Coalition.  There's a serious possibility that, either way, it could simply fall apart.  The fact is that this Government's like a bicycle - it has to keep moving, or it will keel over.  So we must all get together, and just go for it."

The possibility of Warsi and Huhne job-sharing is awkwardly timed, since the Energy Minister yesterday compared the Party Co-Chairman to Goebbels.  However, Downing Street insiders pointed out that the two politicians have worked together recently, fronting a "summer of scrutiny" press conference which attacked Labour's handling of the economy.

"Unlikely as it may seem, Sayeeda and Chris have a first-rate working relationship," we were told.  Hilton and Cooper, working closely with Liberal Democrat Polly Mackenzie from the Downing Street Policy Unit, have yet to settle on which right-wing Government member will join the LibDems in a symbolic act, but it is understood that front-runners include Michael Fallon, John Hayes, Mark Francois, and Gerald Howarth.

In turn, Vince Cable may be asked to address a dinner of the Cornerstone Group, which is chaired by Hayes.  Recipricol possibilites include drafting in senior 1922 Committee officers, such as Mark Pritchard and Charles Walker, to co-chair LibDem Parliamentary policy development groups on human rights, prisons policy and electoral reform.

Noon update: As I've just written on an item about news today you may have missed: "There's confusion among a very, very small minority of readers about the seriousness of our report this morning on Steve Hilton's latest plans.  Let's just say that the first ToryDiary draft of the morning bore the headline: "Ultimate modernisation move: David Davis 'considering sex change' ".


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