Boris Johnson Backs Jacob Rees-Mogg Over Notes Left On Civil Servants' Desks

The prime minister's support follows reports that Nadine Dorries is opposed to the "Dickensian" approach.
Minister for Brexit Opportunities Jacob Rees-Mogg
Minister for Brexit Opportunities Jacob Rees-Mogg
Peter Byrne - PA Images via Getty Images

Boris Johnson has given his support to Jacob Rees-Mogg’s decision to leave notes on the desks of civil servants who are not in the office.

The minister for government efficiency is leading efforts for a “rapid return” of officials to their Whitehall desks after working from home became the norm during the pandemic.

It emerged last week that he had been going round his department putting letters on empty desks which said: “Sorry you were out when I visited. I look forward to seeing you in the office very soon. Wish every good wish.”

Culture secretary Nadine Dorries has reportedly described the tactic as “Dickensian”.

“Why are we measuring bodies behind desks? Why aren’t we measuring productivity?” she said.

Union leaders have also hit out at Rees-Mogg, with Dave Penman, the general secretary of the FDA representing senior civil servants, describing it as “vindictive”.

But the under-fire cabinet minister has been supported by the prime minister.

The PM’s spokesman said: “What the minister is seeking to achieve is to do everything possible to get the civil service to return to the pre-pandemic level, that is supported by the Cabinet Secretary and also the PM.”

Asked directly whether the prime minister supported the letters on civil servants’ desks, the spokesman said: “He supports any initiative that encourages people to return to pre-pandemic working.”

The spokesman said office working for especially good for junior members of staff, while also ensuring value for money for the taxpayer, who fund the buildings in which civil servants work.


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