Number 10 Policy Unit

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Number 10 Policy Unit
Royal Arms as used by His Majesty's Government
Policy Unit overview
Policy Unit executive
  • Eleanor Shawcross, Director
Parent departmentPrime Minister's Office
Website10 Downing Street

The Number 10 Policy Unit is a body of policymakers based in 10 Downing Street, providing policy advice directly to the British Prime Minister. Originally set up to support Harold Wilson in 1974, it has gone through a series of guises to suit the needs of successive prime ministers, staffed variously by political advisers, civil servants and more recently a combination of both.

Since 2010[edit]

The Coalition Government of May 2010 quickly disbanded two major parts of central infrastructure built by Tony Blair, the Prime Minister's Delivery Unit (PMDU) and Prime Minister's Strategy Unit (PMSU), as part of the Prime Minister's agenda to reduce the number of special advisers and end the micromanagement of Whitehall. In their place, a strengthened Policy and Implementation Unit was launched in early 2011 by the Cabinet Secretary, staffed wholly by civil servants and reporting jointly to the Prime Minister and Deputy Prime Minister under joint heads Paul Kirby[1] (Policy) and Kris Murrin (Implementation).[2]

Members of the Policy Unit in 2010 were Gavin Lockhart-Mirams (Home Affairs), Sean Worth (Health and Adult Social Care),[3] Chris Brown (Education), Richard Freer (Defence),[4] Tim Luke (Business and Enterprise),[5] Michael Lynas (Big Society)[6] and Ben Moxham (Energy and Environment).[7] The Unit was supported by the Research and Analytics Unit.[8]

Since 2019[edit]

Munira Mirza was appointed director of the Policy Unit when Boris Johnson became Prime Minister. She had previously been Deputy Mayor of London with responsibility for Education and Culture under Johnson during his time as Mayor of London. Mirza resigned on 4 February 2022 after Johnson failed to apologise for making misleading remarks that implied that Keir Starmer failed to prosecute Jimmy Savile while the latter was Director of Public Prosecutions.[9]

Andrew Griffith MP was appointed to replace Mirza as the director of the Policy Unit until 8 July 2022.[10] As a sitting MP, he was also appointed as Parliamentary Secretary (Minister for Policy and Head of the Prime Minister's Policy Unit).[11] The role was left vacant from 8 July 2022, as Johnson announced his resignation as party leader, with a view to remaining as a caretaker prime minister until his successor had been chosen.

The vacant post was filled by Jamie Hope on 6 September 2022 as part of the short-lived Truss ministry.[12]

When Rishi Sunak became prime minister in October 2022, Eleanor Shawcross, the daughter of the Commissioner for Public Appointments, William Shawcross and grand-daughter of the barrister Hartley Shawcross, became director of the Policy Unit. She had previously donated £20,000 to his leadership campaign, having advised him while he was Chancellor of the Exchequer.[13] Shawcross had previously spent 6 years as deputy chief of staff to George Osborne during his time as Chancellor, and chief of staff at the Department for Work and Pensions where she was later made a non-executive director.[14][15][16]

List of Directors of the Policy Unit[edit]

# Policy Director Years Prime Minister
1 Bernard Donoughue 1974–1976 Harold Wilson
1976–1979 James Callaghan
2 John Hoskyns 1979–1982 Margaret Thatcher
3 Ferdinand Mount 1982–1983
4 John Redwood 1983–1985
5 Brian Griffiths 1985–1990
6 Sarah Hogg 1990–1995 John Major
7 Norman Blackwell 1995–1997
8 David Miliband 1997–2001 Tony Blair
9 Andrew Adonis[17] 2001–2003
10 Geoff Mulgan[18][19] 2003–2004
11 Matthew Taylor 2005–2005
12 David Bennett 2005–2007
13 Dan Corry 2007–2008 Gordon Brown
14 Nick Pearce 2008–2010
15 Paul Kirby 2011–2013 David Cameron
16 Jo Johnson 2013–2015
17 Camilla Cavendish 2015–2016
18 John Godfrey[20] 2016–2017 Theresa May
19 James Marshall 2017–2019
20 Munira Mirza 2019–2022 Boris Johnson
21 Andrew Griffith[10] 2022
22 Jamie Hope[12] 2022 Liz Truss
23 Eleanor Shawcross 2022– Rishi Sunak

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Cameron's New Backroom Team Aims to Move Story On from U-turns and Cuts [1]
  2. ^ Dudman, Jane (2011-06-09). "No 10 happy with civil servant advisers". The Guardian.
  3. ^ "Editor's blog Friday 18 March 2011: EXCLUSIVE - Paul Bate is No 10's new health policy adviser".
  4. ^ "Events - 'A Year of Coalition Foreign and Defence Policy: A Number 10 Perspective' | Politics and International Relations, University of Oxford". Archived from the original on 2011-09-28. Retrieved 2011-07-09.
  5. ^ "Cameron abandons hands-off approach to government". 9 March 2011.
  6. ^ Stratton, Allegra (2010-11-08). "Labour says government putting too many Tory allies in civil service". The Guardian.
  7. ^ Stratton, Allegra (2011-03-10). "Energy policy role at No 10 for former BP man". The Guardian.
  8. ^ "The new 10 Downing Street".
  9. ^ Forsyth, James (3 February 2022). "Exclusive: No. 10 policy chief quits over Boris's Jimmy Savile slur". The Spectator. Retrieved 28 January 2023.
  10. ^ a b "Andrew Griffith MP". GOV.UK. Retrieved 2022-07-10.
  11. ^ "Parliamentary Secretary (Minister for Policy and Head of the Prime Minister's Policy Unit)". GOV.UK. HM Government. Retrieved 28 January 2023.
  12. ^ a b "New PM installs close allies in top cabinet jobs". Financial Times. 2022-09-06. Retrieved 2022-09-06.
  13. ^ Smith, Mikey (23 January 2023). "EXCLUSIVE: Boris Johnson loan probe into BBC chair to be run by father of Rishi Sunak's policy chief". The Daily Mirror. Retrieved 28 January 2023.
  14. ^ Bright, Sam (9 November 2022). "Rishi Sunak Appoints Donor as Policy Chief". Byline Times. Byline Times. Retrieved 28 January 2023.
  15. ^ Mandrake (31 October 2022). "Meet Rishi Sunak's fabulously wealthy new policy chief". The New European. The New European. Retrieved 28 January 2023.
  16. ^ Leake, Natasha (26 October 2022). "Meet the elite, chic circle of youngsters behind Rishi's premiership". The Tatler. Condé Nast Britain. Retrieved 28 January 2023.
  17. ^ BBC Radio 4 (2005-12-02). "Any Questions? transcript". BBC. Retrieved 2006-12-17.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: numeric names: authors list (link)
  18. ^ Wintour, Patrick; White, Michael (4 September 2003). "Blair pins hopes on sweeping policy changes". the Guardian.
  19. ^ Walker, David (21 April 2004). "Eastern promise". the Guardian.
  20. ^ "Downing Street political advisers". Retrieved 29 March 2017.