The Scottish Mail on Sunday

FALL of the ‘GRUESO ME TWOSOME’

PM was told: sack your toxic per­sonal aides... or face a lead­er­ship con­test ‘to­mor­row’

- By Glen Owen PO­LIT­I­CAL COR­RE­SPON­DENT

THERESA MAY lost her two most pow­er­ful – and no­to­ri­ous – ad­vis­ers yes­ter­day as she fought to cling on to power at No10.

Nick Ti­mothy and Fiona Hill, who formed her for­mi­da­ble Prae­to­rian Guard in Down­ing Street, were forced to re­sign amid mount­ing anger in the party over Mrs May’s dis­as­trous Gen­eral Elec­tion re­sult.

The po­si­tion of the ‘grue­some twosome’, as they were dubbed by col­leagues, had be­come un­ten­able af­ter se­nior party fig­ures warned Mrs May that she could face a lead­er­ship con­test as early as to­mor­row if she didn’t sack them.

The res­ig­na­tions will be a dev­as­tat­ing blow to the Prime Min­is­ter, who has re­lied on their ad­vice and pro­tec­tion since first en­ter­ing the Cab­i­net as Home Sec­re­tary more than seven years ago. It now leaves only hus­band Philip in her small group of trusted con­fi­dantes.

The joint chiefs of staff were blamed by Tory MPs for the fail­ure of the cam­paign, with bearded Brum­mie Mr Ti­mothy com­ing in for par­tic­u­lar crit­i­cism for in­clud­ing the so-called ‘de­men­tia tax’ in the man­i­festo. Yes­ter­day, he de­nied be­ing re­spon­si­ble for the pol­icy.

Crit­ics have also ac­cused them of ‘ar­ro­gance and rude­ness’ to­wards MPs and of­fi­cials, and said that Mrs May made er­rors be­cause she gave pri­or­ity to their opin­ions over those of her Cab­i­net.

Ms Hill said last night that it had been ‘a plea­sure to work with such an ex­cel­lent Prime Min­is­ter’, adding: ‘I have no doubt at all that Theresa May will con­tinue to serve and work hard as Prime Min­is­ter – and do it bril­liantly.’

The for­mer aide was born in Glas­gow and at­tended St Stephen’s RC Sec­ondary School in Port Glas­gow, Ren­frew­shire. Dur­ing her twen­ties she worked as a jour­nal­ist with The Scots­man news­pa­per.

In his state­ment, Mr Ti­mothy took re­spon­si­bil­ity for the fail­ure of the cam­paign but de­nied the ‘de­men­tia tax’ had been his ‘pet pol­icy’.

The dra­matic res­ig­na­tions came as party in­sid­ers re­vealed the shock when the exit poll was pub­lished at 10pm on Thurs­day.

While Mr Ti­mothy, 37, and Ms Hill, 44, were run­ning op­er­a­tions at Tory HQ, Mrs May was at home in Berk­shire watch­ing cov­er­age with her hus­band. A source said: ‘I think the grue­some twosome must have re­ceived a leak be­cause, be­fore the poll was re­leased, they started pulling peo­ple into rooms, then emerg­ing look­ing shocked.’

The cam­paign con­sul­tant Sir Lynton Crosby, who mas­ter­minded David Cameron’s 2015 Gen­eral Elec­tion vic­tory, started march­ing round the room telling staff not to panic.

One of the crit­i­cisms lev­elled at Mrs May is that she al­lowed Mr Ti­mothy and Ms Hill to take ef­fec­tive con­trol of the cam­paign, rather than hugely ex­pe­ri­enced Sir Lynton. The source added: ‘If Fiona had spent more time brief­ing against Jeremy Cor­byn, and less time brief­ing against the Chan­cel­lor, then we might have achieved a bet­ter re­sult.’

One of the most se­nior fig­ures in Mrs May’s ad­min­is­tra­tion yes­ter­day added to the im­pres­sion of chaos by launch­ing an out­spo­ken at­tack on her ‘toxic’ and ‘dys­func­tional’ Down­ing Street, ac­cus­ing the un­elected Ms Hill and Mr Ti­mothy of bul­ly­ing Min­is­ters and send­ing ‘rude text mes­sages’.

Katie Per­rior, Theresa May’s for­mer di­rec­tor of com­mu­ni­ca­tions, said that No10 ‘bloody well stank’ of ‘ar­ro­gance’.

The oust­ing of the aides comes a fort­night af­ter it was re­vealed that Cab­i­net Min­is­ters were keep­ing notes of ex­changes with Mr Ti­mothy and Ms Hill – con­tain­ing of­fen­sive lan­guage – and threat­en­ing to re­lease them if they were sacked in a reshuf­fle. It was later re­ported that Chan­cel­lor Philip Ham­mond was among the Min­is­ters who had kept notes.

In his state­ment, Mr Ti­mothy said: ‘The rea­son for the dis­ap­point­ing re­sult was not the ab­sence of sup­port for Theresa May and the Con­ser­va­tives but an un­ex­pected surge in sup­port for Labour.

‘Bri­tain is a di­vided coun­try: many are tired of aus­ter­ity, many re­main frus­trated about Brexit, and many younger peo­ple feel they lack the op­por­tu­ni­ties en­joyed by their par­ents’ gen­er­a­tion… the Con­ser­va­tive Elec­tion cam­paign failed to get this, and Theresa’s pos­i­tive plan for the fu­ture, across.’

He added: ‘I take re­spon­si­bil­ity for my part in this cam­paign...in par­tic­u­lar, I re­gret the de­ci­sion not to in­clude in the man­i­festo a ceil­ing as well as a floor in our pro­posal to help meet the in­creas­ing cost of so­cial care.

‘But I would like to make clear that the bizarre me­dia re­ports about my own role in the pol­icy’s in­clu­sion are wrong: it had been the sub­ject of many months of work within White­hall, and it was not my per­sonal pet project.’

‘No 10 bloody well stank of ar­ro­gance’

 ??  ?? ON THE WAY OUT: Chiefs of staff Fiona Hill and Nick Ti­mothy leave Con­ser­va­tive HQ on Fri­day
ON THE WAY OUT: Chiefs of staff Fiona Hill and Nick Ti­mothy leave Con­ser­va­tive HQ on Fri­day

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