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Ministers Must "Shape Message" On Levelling Up - Boris Johnson's Ex-Spin Doctor

·2 min read
Lee Cain  (Photo: Victoria Jones - PA Images via Getty Images)
Lee Cain (Photo: Victoria Jones - PA Images via Getty Images)

Boris Johnson’s former spin doctor Lee Cain has said the government needs to “shape” its message on levelling up.

The former Downing Street director of communications pointed out that a critique of the agenda is that it is a “slogan without a policy”.

He made the comments after the prime minister put Michael Gove in charge of the rebranded department tasked with implementing the Conservatives’ flagship agenda of levelling up.

The Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government will be officially retitled the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities.

Gove gets a new title of Secretary of State for Levelling Up following Johnson’s reshuffle last week.

Asked if Johnson had given Gove a poisoned chalice or if the PM thought he could deliver the agenda, Cain told the BBC’s Andrew Marr show: “I think it is certainly the latter. If you look at Michael’s history, he does have a clear past of delivery for the government.

“I think Boris has identified him as somebody who can go in and fix an awful lot of his problems.

“The prime minister is great at setting out that vision but I think the critique of levelling up is - is that a slogan without a policy?”

Asked if he knew what levelling up means, Cain added: “I think the government certainly needs to do more work to shape that message.

“For us, in the last election, it’s talking to people in communities that traditionally have been left behind in this country and looking at skills, education opportunities, bringing in good jobs.

“It can’t just be high streets and infrastructure, it’s got to be a far broader scope involving business and community leaders.”

Michael Gove has been given the task of implementing the levelling up agenda  (Photo: Barcroft Media via Getty Images)
Michael Gove has been given the task of implementing the levelling up agenda (Photo: Barcroft Media via Getty Images)

Cain quit the near £150,000-a-year job last year amid a bitter power struggle behind the scenes at No10.

The former journalist helped run Johnson’s Tory leadership campaign and was a close ally of his ex-chief adviser Dominic Cummings.

In a statement, Gove said: “I’m thrilled that the PM has asked me to lead the levelling up agenda, the defining mission of this government.

“With a superb team of ministers and officials in a new department, our relentless focus will be on delivering for those overlooked families and undervalued communities across the United Kingdom.

“We have a unique opportunity to make a real difference to people’s lives.”

A new Levelling Up Taskforce will also be created, headed up by former Bank of England chief economist Andy Haldane.

Labour MP Justin Madders quipped on Twitter: “Now they’ve named a department after it they will be able to tell us what they think levelling up actually is.”

This article originally appeared on HuffPost UK and has been updated.

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