Saturday 04 September 2010 | UK News feed


Anji Hunter quits No 10


ANJI HUNTER, who has been Tony Blair's "gatekeeper" since he became Labour leader seven years ago, left her £120,000 Downing Street job yesterday.

She will become BP's director of communications in the new year at a salary of about £200,000, with a package of incentives including share options and bonuses.

Her departure is a personal loss to the Prime Minister, who confronted party staff this year on her behalf. When she told Mr Blair that she had been offered the BP post, he agreed to double her salary to £120,000 to persuade her to stay on at least until after the election in June.

He insisted that the party make up the extra £60,000. This was more than the salary of any official at Millbank headquarters and generated so much resentment that Margaret McDonagh, the general secretary, refused to authorise it.

Mr Blair called on officers of the national executive to overrule her. Miss Hunter and Mr Blair have known each other since they were teenagers. She began working for him when he joined the shadow cabinet in 1988.

Since becoming Prime Minister, Mr Blair has seldom left London on any official visit without Miss Hunter at his side. Among her functions as director of Government relations were overseeing his contacts with the party and choosing his ties.

It was rumoured that Cherie Blair resented Miss Hunter's influence. Mr Blair said in a statement: "Our loss will be BP's gain. We wish her every success in her new job."

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