Government communications chief bans Downing Street Brexit countdown clock ‘because it is too stressful’ for staff working on Britain’s exit from the EU
- Spin doctors for Prime Minister Boris Johnson had suggested putting up a timer
- They were to be put on computers in Number 10 to put officials under pressure
- Alex Aiken, executive director of government communications, ruled out move
- It is understood the reason for this was due to it being ‘too stressful’ for officials
A Government communications chief has banned a Brexit countdown clock in Downing Street due to it being ‘too stressful’ for staff.
Spin doctors for Prime Minister Boris Johnson had suggested putting up a timer on every computer in Number 10 in a bid to put officials under pressure.
But Alex Aiken, who is the executive director of government communications in the civil service, ruled out the move as the clock would prove ‘too stressful’, according to the Sunday Times.
Downing Street was approached for comment.
Britain is 67 days away from leaving the European Union in Mr Johnson’s ‘do or die’ pledge to be out on October 31.
Spin doctors had suggested putting up a timer on every computer in Number 10. But Alex Aiken (pictured), who is the executive director of government communications in the civil service, ruled out the move as the clock would prove ‘too stressful’
A clock has been put up on a press office white board as well as at the party’s campaign headquarters (CCHQ) on Matthew Parker Street in Westminster.
There was also a £500 one installed in Mr Johnson’s Number 10 office earlier this month.
The PM was believed to have paid for a clock in Downing Street himself, and it was delivered to Number 10 on August 1
The package for Mr Johnson’s clock was handed in at the front door of No10 as the Brexit War Cabinet met. The move to put one on officials computer screens however, was deemed ‘too stressful’
The Prime Minister had the clock delivered to Downing Street on August 1 as he chaired the first meeting of his Brexit war cabinet.
It was intended to underline Mr Johnson’s determination to stick to his October 31 promise, despite furious of opposition from Remainer MPs and the EU.
On the same day one was unveiled at CCHQ, with a message below reading: ‘We will have delivered Brexit and left the EU by’.
Mr Johnson’s clock, thought to be similar to this one, was expected to be installed in the Prime Minister’s office
Clocks like that delivered to No10 are sold for £587 online, although the exact cost is not known.
The symbolic step was paid for out of Tory funds.
Mr Johnson was this morning hailed as the ‘right man’ to deliver Brexit by US President Donald Trump as the pair met in Biarritz, France.
Boris Johnson met Donald Trump this morning in Biarritz for formal talks – the first time the pair have met since the former became PM
The long-anticipated meeting of the two men at the G7 summit saw Mr Trump lavish praise on Mr Johnson who he said did not need his advice on how to successfully take Britain out of the EU.
Mr Trump said: ‘He needs no advice, he is the right man for the job. I have been saying that for a long time.
‘It didn’t make your predecessor very happy, but I have been saying that for a long time.’
Mr Johnson was hoping to use this morning’s meeting to lay the groundwork for a future US-UK trade deal
Mr Johnson jokingly said Mr Trump was ‘on message there’ as the US President then described the UK’s EU membership as an ‘anchor’ and predicted a ‘very big trade deal’.
He said: ‘We are having very good trade talks between the UK and ourselves. We are going to do a very big trade deal, bigger than we have ever had with the UK.
‘At some point they won’t have the obstacle, they won’t have the anchor around their ankle because that is what they had.’
Mr Johnson was expected to tell Mr Trump that the NHS would be ‘completely off limits’ in a post-Brexit trade deal
Mr Trump said a deal could be done ‘pretty quickly’ as he also claimed Mr Johnson would become a ‘great prime minister’.
He said trade talks had been ‘stymied’ by Theresa May when she was Prime Minister.
Mr Johnson said he expected there to be ‘tough talks ahead’ as he tried to lay the groundwork for a swift post-Brexit trade deal, having warned overnight the NHS will be ‘completely off limits’.
In a sign the new special relationship could face bumps in the road, Mr Johnson also used the meeting to express concern about the US trade war with China as he said he favoured trade deals over hiking tariffs.