- Parliament.UK and Carl Court / Getty
- Theresa May’s policy chief steps down in the latest blow for the prime minister.
- George Freeman had been a repeated thorn in May’s side in recent months.
- He has resigned from the chairmanship of May’s policy board in order to work on reforming the Conservative party.
- Tory sources attempt to downplay the latest senior departure from Downing Street.
LONDON – Theresa May’s policy chief George Freeman has resigned in the latest blow for the prime minister.
Freeman, who had chaired the prime minister’s policy board in Downing Street, says he was stepping aside to concentrate on reforming the Conservative party.
“I’ve stood down as Chair of the Prime Minister’s Policy Board in Number Ten, to focus on my role as Chair of the Conservative Policy Forum,” he wrote in a piece on the Conservative Home website.
“We need a strong Conservative forum and voice – outside of, but heard inside, Government.”
Labour’s Shadow Minister for the Cabinet Office Jon Trickett, said Freeman’s resignation “speaks volumes” about the state of the Conservative party. “For a man who once said that the ‘raison d’ être’ of his role in No.10 was to face the challenge of renewal in office, his resignation speaks volumes on the current state of the Tories in Government,” he said. “He has caught the essence of the Conservative Party in a two-word phrase: lazy privilege. It tells you all that’s wrong with Theresa May’s Government because they are working for the few, while Labour is working for the many.”
Freeman accused Labour of “troublemaking” about his resignation.
“Labour troublemaking. I agreed with No10 in July to review the role of the Policy Board after Conference, and last week we agreed to wind up the Board in No10 and focus on my work as Chair of @ConservativePF on Party Renewal #ToryRenewal,” he tweeted.
Freeman is the latest in a growing line of senior figures to step down from Downing Street in recent months.
Katie Perrior resigned as May’s Comms chief after she called the snap general election earlier this year and her press secretary Lizzie Louden resigned in April. She subsequently lost her two most senior advisers Nick Timothy and Fiona Hill following the Conservatives’ failure to win a majority.
No 10’s Head of Policy, John Godfrey and his deputy Will Tanner also resigned in June. Her chief speechwriter Chris Wilkins resigned in July.
Freeman has been a regular thorn in the prime minister’s side. Last week he angered Number 10 after warning that Britain could become an “old people’s home that can’t pay for itself”.
He had also set up a new festival dubbed the “Tory Glastonbury” in an attempt to mimic Labour’s success with the Corbyn-supporting Momentum group. At the recent Conservative party conference, he warned that the Conservative party was heading for “electoral wipeout” if it failed to appeal to young people.
Senior party sources sought to play down the resignation on Monday, with one pointing out that the policy board had not met since the general election.