Boris Johnson's new Deputy Mayor Sir Simon Milton has officially declared himself the new 'chief of staff' at City Hall.
In a rather self-congratulatory interview with the Evening Standard, Milton boasts of his supremacy over the other deputies and of his surprise to find that Boris is intelligent.
Milton tells the Standard:
“I don't like the title first deputy mayor but ultimately because of my experience and my co‑ordination role, I am closer to the centre than the other deputy mayors who have very tightly defined subject responsibilities.
"Although my job title is deputy mayor policy and planning, in reality I'm Chief of Staff.”
Oh well don't worry Simon. Just go ahead and change your job title. It's not as if anyone's going to stop you.
Physically, too, Sir Simon has placed himself at the epicentre of operations: he sits at a desk directly outside Boris's office overlooking Tower Bridge on the eighth floor.
The other three deputy mayors, Richard Barnes, Ian Clement, and Kit Malthouse, in charge of communities, Government relations and policing respectively, have offices on the other side of the building.
As well as having a dig at Tim Parker, criticising the chaos that ensued before he came to save the day and playing down the influence of Boris's new chief policy advisor, Milton also damns his own boss with the faintest possible of praise.
Just take a look at this section of the interview:
Ironically Sir Simon was one of those who regarded Boris as an amusing, lovable rogue but not to be trusted with a serious job like running London. Did he underestimate Boris? “Yes, I think that everybody does. He's an extremely quick study. When you work with him, you realise he's intelligent, passionate and motivated by noble instincts."
Whereas otherwise you'd consider him an ignorant lazy opportunist. And then this section:
“Boris is the sort of person who comes into work in the morning and gives you the 10 ideas he's had while he's cycled in. My job is to translate them into action.”
So who exactly is the advisor and who is the boss here? And when is the teacher going to hand over to the 'quick study'?
It's said that Boris hopes to one day lead the Tory party: in the event of a leadership challenge, would he support Cameron or Johnson?
Sir Simon laughs. “I am a big fan of David Cameron,” he says. “I could never envisage Boris challenging him but anyway, nobody is going to ask him to do that job unless he gets this one right. And that's where I come in.
Well that's you told then Boris. Now off to the back of the class with you.