Boris Johnson’s key adviser Dominic Cummings has called for “weirdos” to apply for jobs in Downing Street as he warned of “profound problems” in Government decision-making.
Mr Cummings posted an apparent job advert on Thursday saying Number 10 wants to hire an “unusual set of people with different skills and backgrounds” to work as special advisers and potentially officials.
The blog post exceeding 2,900 words came amid reports that the Prime Minister is planning “seismic changes” to the civil service.
Mr Cummings, a former Vote Leave director, said he hopes to be made “largely redundant” within a year by the recruitment drive.
He called for officials including “weirdos and misfits with odd skills”, data scientists and policy experts to apply to a gmail account if they think they fit the bill.
Mr Cummings warned that there is “some profound problems at the core of how the British state makes decisions” and that he currently makes decisions “well outside” his “circle of competence”.
And he says the need for change comes with Brexit requiring large policy and decision-making structure changes and a Government with an 80-strong majority having “little need to worry about short-term unpopularity”.
Under a subsection on hiring “super-talented weirdos”, he writes that the Government needs “some true wild cards, artists, people who never went to university and fought their way out of an appalling hell hole”.
Mr Cummings’ post came after Rachel Wolf, who helped draw up the blueprint of Tory election pledges, said civil servants could be made to take regular exams to prove they are up to their Whitehall jobs.
Under “seismic” changes being planned by Number 10, she also said that civil servants are “woefully unprepared” for sweeping reforms that Mr Johnson is keen to push through.
Dave Penman, general secretary of the FDA union, warned that it is unclear how the new recruits would be selected or what their roles would be.
“Civil servants are recruited on merit, not patronage – a critical principle if they are to provide the best impartial advice to ministers,” Mr Penman added.
“It would be ironic if, in an attempt to bring in radical new thinking, Cummings was to surround himself with like-minded individuals – recruited for what they believe, not what they can do – and less able to provide the robust advice a minister may need, rather than simply the advice they want.”
Mr Penman also blamed officials’ salary levels as being a restricting factor for recruiting a wider pool of talent.
“Similarly, Cummings’s call to world-class experts to join government may flounder on the pay rates, which are typically half of those paid elsewhere. All senior civil service roles are already open to external competition, yet time and again, government’s failure to pay a market rate restricts the pool,” Mr Penman said.