Chief of Staff
BOOK OF THE YEAR, The Times, Guardian and Prospect
‘Fascinating and instructive… his decency and pragmatism shine through.’ The Times
‘Candid, valuable and insightful.’ Observer
Since the EU referendum of 2016, British politics has witnessed a barrage of crises, resignations and general elections. Theresa May’s premiership was the most turbulent of all. In her darkest hour, following the disastrous 2017 election, she turned to Gavin Barwell to help restore her battered authority. He would become her chief of staff for the next two years – a period punctuated by Brexit negotiations, domestic tragedy, and intense political drama.
In this gripping insider memoir, Barwell reveals what really went on in the corridors of power – and sheds a vital light on May, the most inscrutable of modern prime ministers. He was by her side when she met Donald Trump, heard about the poisoning of the Skripals in Salisbury, and responded to the Grenfell Tower fire. He was also at the centre of Brexit talks with foreign leaders and MPs from across the house, including Boris Johnson, Jeremy Corbyn and Keir Starmer. Revealing how government operates during times of crisis, this is the definitive record of a momentous episode in Britain’s recent political history.
A candid, valuable and insightful account of two hugely consequential years of history. Read it if you want to fully understand why we are where we are today. * Observer * Barwell writes with a humility and honesty that makes Chief of Staff a fascinating and instructive book... his decency and pragmatism shine through the pages of his book. * The Times * An important historical document and the ultimate insiders story of how a government was slowly and painfully overwhelmed. A meticulous account of a tortured period of our politics, revealing for the first time what really happened in Downing Street. * Laura Kuenssberg, Political Editor of BBC News * Chiefs of staff at No. 10 see more of what is happening than anyone, often more even than the prime ministers themselves. This fascinating account takes us deeper than anyone before into the opaque mysteries of the turbulent premiership of Theresa May. * Sir Anthony Seldon, author of May at 10 * Chief of Staff takes us beyond the Corridors of Power and provides a unique insight into the nerve centre of decision-making in No.10 Downing Street. * Gordon Brown, former UK Prime Minister * 'Gavin Barwell was in the room where it happens. This is a riveting, first-hand account of Britain's white-knuckle ride through the years after Brexit. Read it if you want to understand the country we live in today.' * George Osborne, former UK Chancellor of the Exchequer * An important book. It explains how the prime minister's office works, which means it shows how we are governed. It is a window on one of the most important periods of modem political history: the Brexit negotiation years. Barwell is candid about the mistakes that were made, about how emotion and stupidity will often trump reason, and about the comedy of so much of government. Essential reading for anyone with even a passing interest in politics. * Robert Peston, Political Editor, ITV News * Excellent * Daniel Finkelstein, Times *
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