Downing Street has come under heavy pressure to explain how a consultant who claimed that intelligence is linked to race came to work at no. 10, among the new questions about the push of the main assistant Dominic Cummings to employ “misfits and strange” to work under him.
The day after Andrew Sabisky said he would leave the “contractor” position in Downing Street due to the furor of his views, Labor wrote to Boris Johnson asking him to explain how the appointment had been set and if the prime minister was from according to Sabisky’s opinions.
Separately, a Labor MP wrote to the chief of civil service, Mark Sedwill, asking about who had hired Sabisky and whether he had been checked.
So far Downing Street has refused to provide even basic details of Sabisky’s work or how he was recruited. Officials also declined to comment on the status of two other so-called “super forecasters” pictured with him out of issue 10 in January.
The photo was tweeted by Michael Story, co-founder of a forecast startup called Maby, who has now made his Twitter account private. It showed Story and Sabisky with Maby’s other founder, Thomas Liptay.
Sabisky resigned following growing criticism from conservatives and opposition politicians after details of his views emerged on topics ranging from IQ of black people to the use of brain drugs that improve children and whether benefit seekers should be encouraged to have fewer children.
Labor President Ian Lavery wrote to Johnson asking how Sabisky had been hired, whether he had been controlled, and whether the Prime Minister approved the trial. Lavery also asked if Johnson agreed with Sabisky’s views on race, intelligence and other subjects. Downing Street officials declined to comment on Monday.
Separately, Labor MP Stephen Doughty he wrote to Mark Sedwill, the secretary of the cabinet, looking for answers on a number of Sabisky-related issues, including the basis on which he was hired, who approved his employment, whether the cabinet office was informed and any examinations he has took place.
The N. 10 did not answer separate Guardian questions about Sabisky’s occupation, whether he had been checked or had a security pass and if Story and Liptay were also working on Downing Street or if he had been offered work.
The SNP also asked Johnson to say if Sabisky had been checked, claiming that the prime minister had “serious questions to answer” during the appointment.
Kirsty Blackman, the party’s deputy head of Westminster, said: “It is absolutely shameful that a man with a well-documented history of not apologically offensive, misogynist and racist observations has been considered by issue no. 10 an appropriate rental.
“Special advisers do not have the power to hire contractors or appoint consultants without ministerial approval, so there must now be full transparency and the Tories must determine which government minister has signed on to hire Sabisky.”
Sabisky appears to have been the first hired in response to a blog post baffled in the new year by Cummings, Johnson’s chief adviser, who asked for “weird and misfits with strange skills” to apply for new jobs by number 10.
As news of Sabisky’s role emerged, the details of the views he had energetically exposed over the years of writing, blogs and social media commentaries also largely relied on belief in genetics as the main driver of people’s lives.
This included the discussion that the differences in intelligence and ability between races and social classes are largely hereditary, and therefore it is useless to implement positive discrimination schemes or early intervention programs similar to Sure Start.
He pushed a handful of conservative MPs to speak publicly against Sabisky, with other government advisers who were particularly unhappy with the coverage. One said, “We don’t want to all be tarred with the same brush – which is somewhat representative of all the swords.”
Downing Street had appeared resolute to remain loyal to Sabisky all Monday, but that evening he suddenly went away among news reports that he had been ordered to resign.
Kwasi Kwarteng, the minister of affairs sent on Tuesday for broadcasting service, was noticeably more explicit than Downing Street officials, stating that the process of hiring staff to alert number 10 had to be “examined”.
Describing Sabisky’s views as “racist, offensive and questionable,” Kwarteng told BBC Radio 5 live that he was happy that the adviser has left.
He said the government “should stop racists from getting into number 10 or wherever it works,” adding: “We have to look at these processes, but the fact is that his comments were identified and rejected very quickly … and we can move up.”