Former Treasury boss Tom Scholar and ex-Brexit negotiator Olly Robbins ‘lined up for Labour job’

Former Treasury boss Tom Scholar and ex-Brexit negotiator Olly Robbins ‘line up for senior Labor job’ as Keir Starmer looks to add government experience to top party leadership ahead of next election

  • The two men were linked to the opposition leader’s vacant chief of staff
  • After 12 years in the opposition, Sir Keir’s team has no government experience
  • Sir Tom, 54, and Sir Olly, 47, both worked in No10 during New Labor years

Two former senior officials have been linked with a senior Labor job as Sir Keir Starmer organizes his top team for a possible election victory.

Sir Tom Scholar, the ex-Permanent Secretary of the Treasury, and Sir Olly Robbins, a senior Brexit negotiator for Theresa May, have been linked to the opposition leader’s vacant chief of staff post.

After 12 years in the opposition, Sir Keir’s team lacks previous government experience, with less than two years left until the next election and a large lead in the Labor poll.

Sir Tom, 54, and Sir Olly, 47, both held the number 10 private secretary position under New Labor before moving on to other senior civil service positions. Sir Olly went to work for Tory Prime Minister Theresa May.

Sir Olly Robbins

Sir Tom Scholar, the ex-Permanent Secretary of the Treasury, and Sir Olly Robbins, a senior Brexit negotiator for Theresa May, have been linked to the opposition leader’s vacant chief of staff post.

After 12 years in the opposition, Sir Keir's team lacks previous government experience, with less than two years left until the next election and a large lead in the Labor poll.

After 12 years in the opposition, Sir Keir’s team lacks previous government experience, with less than two years left until the next election and a large lead in the Labor poll.

The chief of staff position has been vacant since October, when Sam White left after reports of tensions within the operation.

Sir Keir said his departure was due to the changes in the scale of the leader of the opposition operation.

“Sam has played an incredible role in taking our operation to the next level. Under his leadership, the team has become better and stronger,” he said.

But “with the merger, running the leader’s office becomes a smaller role than what Sam signed up for and we both agree that now is the right time to go as we make this change.”

Sir Tom was relieved of his duties at the Treasury by short-lived Chancellor Kwasi Kwarteng on taking office in September.

Autumn Prime Minister Liz Truss had previously railed against “Treasury orthodoxy” and the decision to get rid of the mandarin on the first day of her new government was seen as signaling her determination to change the direction of economic policy.

Mrs Truss is said to have personally pushed for the firing of a former assistant to Gordon Brown.

Sources close to the former finance minister told the Times he was unlikely to take the position because he had “never been very political.”

Sir Olly stepped down as Britain’s chief Brexit negotiator before Boris Johnson came to power in 2019.

He left for a City post with Goldman Sachs because the new prime minister introduced a completely different approach to Brexit than his predecessor.

As the man who won Theresa May’s doomed Brexit deal on the ground in Brussels, Mr Robbins was seen as an ogre by many of Mr Johnson’s supporters and his position was untenable as far as they were concerned.

Brexiteers blamed May’s personal EU adviser and head of the Cabinet Office’s powerful Europe unit for softening the terms of Britain’s exit and not demanding concessions from the hated Northern Ireland ‘backstop’.

They have also pointed to Sir Olly’s support for a federal European system while studying at Oxford, accusing him of secretly conspiring to keep Britain bound to Brussels indefinitely.

But a colleague defended him, saying: ‘Whatever faults people have found in Olly, he was always fiercely loyal to Theresa and did everything she asked of him during the negotiations. All the sins of which he has been accused were largely hers, but until recently her party found it easier to blame him.’

Nicknamed “the Mandarin of the Mandarin,” he has held senior positions under every Prime Minister since Tony Blair, including as Gordon Brown’s private secretary and David Cameron’s national security adviser.

But as Sir Keir tries to balance his party’s Brexit position, a Labor source told the Times he could be seen as ‘too Remainy’.

Clearly, while some Labor figures have put them forward as candidates, neither is on the party’s radar.

.