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    ANNA MIKHAILOVA: Ex-Cabinet Office Minister Francis Maude is brought back

    ANNA MIKHAILOVA: Efficiency drive that’s as clear as Maude: Ex-Cabinet Office Minister Francis Maude is brought back to his old department to advise on government efficiency – while doing same for foreign powers including Russia

    Roll up, roll up! There’s another addition to the Government chumocracy. Former Cabinet Office Minister Lord (Francis) Maude has been brought back to his old department via a handy arrangement.

    The revolving door that regularly propels ex-Ministers into private sector jobs has, in this case, been replaced with a deal that allows Lord Maude to dispense advice on Government efficiency while doing the same for foreign powers.

    However, Cabinet Office staff could have saved time had they watched a video unearthed by The Mail on Sunday of a speech that Maude had already delivered to efficiency groupies and fellow democrats in Moscow.

    Former Cabinet Office Minister Lord (Francis) Maude, pictured, has been brought back to his old department via a handy arrangement

    At a conference dubbed the ‘Russian Davos’, he dispensed tips on how to improve computer systems, reduce costs and be more ‘effective’. The Russian Presidential Academy of National Economy and Public Administration paid for the 2018 Moscow jaunt, which he declared on his Lords’ register of interests.

    Meanwhile, conferences called ‘Astana Finance Days’ in 2019 and 2020 have also been beneficiaries of the former Trade Minister’s pearls of wisdom, with sponsorship from the Putin-friendly Kazakh government.

    Maude co-founded Francis Maude Associates (FMA) in 2016 together with Baroness Finn, who, incidentally, is now a non-executive board member of the Cabinet Office.

    FMA declined to say which foreign powers it services – only saying it is not Russia – while its website makes references to ‘a number of governments in Asia and the Middle East’.

    The Cabinet Office refused to say if Maude had declared his client list before taking on the role. However, a spokesman said he had been brought in to give ‘personal advice to support ongoing thinking in respect of functions’. Clear as Maude.

    With Westminster eateries and watering holes closed, walks in nearby St James’s Park have become the favourite meeting place for hacks and their sources. 

    So when one of the park’s famous pelicans began aggressing the others with squawks and big flapping wings, a witty Treasury official told me the scene resembled a particular ‘Cabinet Minister during Spending Review talks’. Any aggression unintentional, of course.

    Has Dom got his sights set on a new job? 

    A possible job opportunity for one recently departed Downing Street supremo: Specsavers in Barnard Castle is looking for an ‘optical assistant apprentice’. 

    According to the advert the successful applicant must work weekends and be ‘happy to travel’ between Barnard Castle and a nearby store. 

    A possible job opportunity for one recently departed Downing Street supremo: Specsavers in Barnard Castle is looking for an ‘optical assistant apprentice’. Pictured: Dominic Cummings

    A possible job opportunity for one recently departed Downing Street supremo: Specsavers in Barnard Castle is looking for an ‘optical assistant apprentice’. Pictured: Dominic Cummings

    According to the advert, left, the successful applicant must work weekends and be ‘happy to travel’ between Barnard Castle and a nearby store

    According to the advert, left, the successful applicant must work weekends and be ‘happy to travel’ between Barnard Castle and a nearby store

    Applications close by December 7, so there’s time for a safety recce to test his eyesight if Dominic Cummings, right, fancies it. 

    He could visit on Wednesday, his 49th birthday – as his infamous visit there in April was on his wife’s birthday. I’m sure Mary wouldn’t mind. 

    A public sector pay freeze may be looming, but there is no austerity for the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority. 

    I can reveal its new chief executive Ian Todd has started work on a ‘£140,000 to £145,000’ salary – about £20,000 more than his predecessor, Marcial Boo, who benefited from a hefty pay bump on taking office six years earlier.

    No wonder the so-called expenses watchdog proposed a £3,000 pay rise for MPs – as the rest of the country tumbles into the biggest jobs crisis since 1984 – when the taxpayer-funded salary of Ipsa’s chief executive has gone up nearly 40 per cent since 2014. 

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