Westminster is gearing up for ‘Sue Gray week’ as the top civil servant is due to finally release her long-awaited findings into ‘partygate.’ There’s been much speculation as to how bad the forthcoming report will be for Boris Johnson and his gang, with both political appointees and civil servants expected to be implicated. TheTelegraph reports that Downing Street police officers have been interviewed about what they saw on the nights in question while the Sunday Times claims that Johnson’s former aide Dominic Cummings will be grilled today.
While Mr S awaits the publication of the report’s findings with interest, it’s clear that one or two people’s careers in Whitehall have already been badly hit by the claims which emerged in recent weeks. Chief among them is Martin Reynolds, the PM’s Principal Private Secretary (PPS). He was the hapless mandarin who sent the incriminating 20 May 2020 email to 100 civil servants to ‘Bring your own bottle’ and ‘make the most of the lovely weather’ in the Downing Street garden. This was at the height of the first national lockdown when the rest of the country was banned from meeting more than one other person outdoors. Not surprising then that Mr S was told that the fun-loving civil servant’s new nickname in Westminster is ‘party Marty’.
Reynolds has already featured in far more press reports than he otherwise would have liked, with one suggesting he was being lined up as the ‘fall guy’ for the whole debacle. The Sir Humphreys of SW1 prefer to operate in the shadows, meaning he is expected to be moved, whatever Gray reports. One option being explored is to hand Reynolds a senior diplomatic role, possibly at ambassador level, given his credentials. Prior to joining the No. 10 operation, he was Ambassador to Libya, having previously done stints as Foreign Office and as Deputy High Commissioner in South Africa. Such a role would also make the best of Reynolds’ hosting skills, given that organising drinks parties is a core function of these jobs.
So, where next for ‘party Marty’? Sadly past indiscretions and the fact that most top jobs have recently been filled mean only a ‘mid-level ambassadorial role’ is likely. The plum posts of China, America, India, Saudi Arabia and Russia don’t look likely for various reasons. Suggestions instead include a ‘middle-sized European state’ or somewhere further afield, such as Singapore. Couldn’t get much further than the Co-Op on the Strand. Unfortunately for Reynolds, David Cameron’s former aide Ed Llewellyn has just nabbed one of the best European gigs as the newly-named Italian Ambassador, while both Germany and France have both been filled in the past 14 months.
Mr S has done some digging and Hungary, the Czech Republic and Turkey all seem like obvious candidates, given that their current ambassadors will all be over the age of 60 this year. Sadly, the ambassadorship to Brazil was filled just a year ago, preventing us from the spectacle of seeing Reynolds lead the samba down the Copacabana, swilling Caipirinhas like Westminster Tesco wine. One diplomatic source suggested that a posting to the famously abstemious nation of Pakistan could be likely. Talk about a change of scenery. In Afghanistan meanwhile there is only a Chargé d’Affaires ad interim of the UK Mission there – could Reynolds be a more permanent posting?
After the chaos, drama and farce of the past two years, dealing with Islamist fundamentals might be a welcome break for the embattled PPS.
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