With both the Queen and Westminster facing some extraordinary challenges who better to welcome to the Pagefield offices than Camilla Tominey – the only journalist in national newspapers to cover both the monarchy and Government.
Here are five things we learned:
Wellies, won’t he?
Despite the Government returning with an 80-seat landslide majority just before Christmas, Camilla believes that there has been a number of avoidable own goals in the last couple of months. While previous Prime Ministers lacked the human touch, which rendered them ill-equipped to handle crises such as the recent flooding, Boris styles himself as a people’s leader so we should have seen him out there in his wellies.
Camilla also recommended that the administration employ more of a female touch, as the external perception is one of quite an alpha-male dominated environment.
A broadening, and then balancing, act
On Johnson specifically, Camilla spoke of Boris’s innate need to be liked (which she speculated was perhaps borne out of the competitive rivalry he had with his siblings growing up) and her view that he’s the most ambitious leader since Tony Blair. That said, the Prime Minister is also apparently willing to delegate and share credit in a way that many leaders are not. He is more than happy for Michael Gove to ‘own’ the Brexit brief, for instance.
With the Budget due next week, Johnson is conscious of the need to “level up” and rebalance the regions given the trust these voters showed in him at the ballot booth. Camilla told us that this would require a fine balancing act, as the Prime Minister will be weary of isolating core voters by borrowing too many “Corbynista policies”.
Let them eat cake
Camilla also issued a word of warning to Harry and Meghan, whom she now believes are more vulnerable than ever. The Palace served as a formidable shield which afforded the couple protection which they are unlikely to receive from the Hollywood press. They could pay the price for wanting to have their cake and eat it, according to our guest.
Camilla believes the Royal couple’s stock to be damagingly low, with both their treatment of the Queen and Harry’s recent JP Morgan speech not playing well with the British public. Thankfully the pair have “a support base in the USA which transcends popularity”.
For the male, not the female
Commenting upon the current Labour leadership election, Camilla expressed admiration for Lisa Nandy while conceding that Keir Starmer would be a decent short-term moderate alternative to Tory rule.
Speaking more broadly about women in senior roles, Camilla drew attention to Labour’s poor record of female leaders, citing Harriet Harman as an example of a very competent female politician who was always overlooked for the top job. Asked what the long-term answer was for Labour, Camilla replied that, with more of a professional campaign, Lisa Nandy might be their best bet.
Beauty of the broadsheet
One of Camilla’s final insights was that public interest in one-on-one interviews is waning, as viewers become increasingly tired of presenters seeking out ‘gotcha’ moments for viral clips and seem to prefer long-form, investigative journalism. Government is alert to this and taking advantage by tightening media control – a move evidenced by the Lobby correspondent relocating from the House of Commons to Number 10. Camilla expects to continue to see more ministers appearing on the likes of LBC, and less on prime-time BBC shows such as the Today programme.