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UK Top News

Johnson picks new chief of staff to lead post-Cummings 'reset'

Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson seen in public for the first time since his self-isolation ended, leaves Downing Street during the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak in London, Britain, November 26, 2020. REUTERS/Simon Dawson

LONDON (Reuters) - British Prime Minister Boris Johnson appointed Dan Rosenfield, a business consultant and former treasury official, as his new chief of staff on Thursday as he tries to restore trust in his leadership.

Johnson is reshaping his senior team of advisers following the departure of Dominic Cummings earlier this month. Cummings was seen as the driving force behind Johnson’s strategy on Brexit and most other policies, and his exit has been billed as a chance for a ‘reset’ for the British leader.

Rosenfield joins from Hakluyt, a strategic advisory firm for businesses and investors, where he has been global head of corporate clients and head of the UK business since 2016, the government said.

He previously worked at Bank of America as a managing director of investment banking, and spent over a decade working in the finance ministry where he served as a senior aide to former finance ministers Alistair Darling and George Osborne.

“Dan is a class act and an inspired appointment,” said Rupert Harrison, a former aide to Osborne who now works for Blackrock. He described Rosenfield as bright, tough and politically savvy.

Johnson has been heavily criticised for his response to the COVID-19 crisis and a failure to communicate properly with elected members of his ruling Conservative Party, which has stirred rebellion over lockdown rules and Brexit policies.

The decision to hire a relatively low profile former civil servant marks a change of direction for a prime minister whose inner circle was previously largely made up of alumni from the 2016 Brexit campaign, with Cummings at the fore.

The chief of staff is traditionally the most powerful political appointment in the prime minister’s office. Though exact responsibilities vary according the leaders’ preference, the job involves providing strategic and political advice to help the prime minister take decisions.

Rosenfield will begin work on Dec. 7 and officially take up the Chief of Staff role on Jan. 1, Downing Street said.

Reporting by William James and Guy Faulconbridge, Editing by Angus MacSwan

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