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May 28, 2021 39 min

In the week of Dominic Cummings' jaw-dropping testimony to Parliament, Jack Blanchard takes a closer look at the role special advisers play within government, and at just how powerful these shadowy figures really are.

Theresa May's former chief aide Nick Timothy talks about his all-powerful role inside Downing Street, and what it feels like to become a magnet for unwanted press attention. Two more former Tory advisers, Salma Shah and Peter Cardwell, discuss their close relationships with their ministers, and how the high pressure and long hours can leave you exhausted and burned out. Former Labour adviser Theo Bertram describes what it was like to work as a close adviser to Gordon Brown in No. 10, often delivering the bad news the prime minister didn't want to hear. And the Institute for Government's Tim Durrant, a former civil servant, explains how political advisers and Whitehall officials sometimes — though not always — work hand in glove.

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