Katie Perrior, Theresa May’s former director of communications has said the atmosphere inside Downing Street was “toxic”, as she slammed the prime minister’s top advisers Fiona Hill and Nick Timothy for their “rude, abusive, childish behaviour”.
Speaking to BBC Radio 4’s Today programme this morning, Perrior said working in No.10 was “terrible” when the prime minister’s joint chiefs of staff were there.
Perrior quit her job working for May in April. She said the prime minister’s office “was pretty dysfunctional”.
Her comments came as May is set to name the rest of her top team after a humiliating showing in the general election left her authority as prime minister weakened.
In the wake of her disastrous general election campaign, May has been accused of relying too heavily on Hill and Timothy who have worked for her since her time as home secretary.
Timothy has also been blamed for including the controversial social care policy in the Tory manifesto which May u-turned on in the space of four days.
Writing in The Times, Perrior said May only stood up to Hill and Timothy a “handful of times”.
“Normally we would all sit there while Fiona would raise some batshit crazy idea and not say a word,” she said.
She told the BBC: “There was not enough respect shown to epople who spent 20 years in office or 20 years getting to the top seat in Government. They would send people text messages - rude text messages - which is not acceptable.
“What the prime minister needs at a time that you’re going through Brexit is diplomats not street-fighters. They only really know one way to operate - and that is to have enemies and I’m sure I’m one of them this morning.
“We were going to an 8.30 meeting every morning at Theresa May’s office and the atmosphere would be great if the chiefs of staff were not there and terrible if the chiefs of staff were there.
“We would be able to speak freely if they weren’t around and if they were around you don’t speak.”
Perrior explained why she left No.10: “Every month that went past I felt I’ve done pretty well for holding on because it was pretty toxic.”
May’s decision to seek a deal with Northern Ireland’s Democratic Unionist Party (DUP), and the role of her two closest advisers in the faltering election campaign has drawn criticism in Tory ranks.
In an apparent side-swipe at a hook-up with the DUP, a party which strongly opposes marriage equality, Scottish Tory leader Ruth Davidson tweeted a link to a speech she made in Belfast in support of same-sex marriage.
May had limited room for manoeuvre after her presidential-style campaign saw the Tories shed seats and fall eight MPs short of a Commons majority.
After speculation the PM would use a solid win in the election to move Philip Hammond from the Treasury, he and other potential successors as Tory leader, Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson, and Home Secretary Amber Rudd, remained in place.
With Brexit Secretary David Davis and Defence Secretary Sir Michael Fallon also staying put, there were suggestions changes could just centre on replacing the eight ministers who lost their seats as the Tory Commons tally fell to 318.