The main topic of conversation in Whitehall today has been The Guardian’s profile of the Cabinet Secretary Sir Jeremy Heywood. One particular passage has raised some eyebrows in several ministerial offices:
He believes, they say, that reports of his power are overstated and the very suggestion that he might be making decisions on behalf of politicians makes him “cringe”. He prefers to describe himself, they say, as simply very influential.
Heywood, and this irritates some in Number 10, briefs journalists personally. He is known to be particularly concerned about his image. I’m told that after The Spectator cover depicting him as the PM’s puppet-master, there was much discussion over what should be done to finesse things.
Today’s piece and Heywood’s decision to have a newspaper piece published in his own name this week, have raised the hackles of those Tories who see him as too big for his boots. One complains that Heywood wants all the credit and none of the accountability.