But Sir Robin Butler, the Cabinet Secretary, demurred. The principal private secretary has a quasi-constitutional role; liaising, for example, with Buckingham Palace and the Cabinet Secretary during the transition of power following an election. His civil service status acts as a check on Downing Street. When civil servants issue instructions they know that, if they prove to be less than neutral, their reputation and career could be harmed. Political appointees are not so constrained.
So a compromise was reached. Mr Powell will not become principal private secretary, but as Chief of Staff his desk will occupy the same position at No 10 as that of the current principal private secretary, Alex Allan. When Mr Allan switches job shortly, a replacement will be appointed from the Civil Service, but with limited responsibilities.Reuse content