Rishi Sunak: Comms contenders for new Downing Street team

Today Rishi Sunak will be appointed the UK’s third prime minister in the space of seven weeks. He will make history by becoming the country’s first Hindu PM.

Rishi Sunak, who becomes the UK’s third prime minister in less than two months (Pic credit: Getty Images)

Rishi Sunak, 42, will also be the UK’s first British Asian prime minister and the youngest for more than 200 years.

He will have to hit the ground running, with an unenviable in-tray of economic chaos.

One of his first tasks will be assembling his cabinet. But the fledgling prime minister will also need to ensure his backroom team is up and running – not least when it comes to comms.

Here PRWeek looks at some of the contenders that could become part of the new Downing Street comms operation.

Cass Horowitz

The son of children’s author Michael Horowitz, and dubbed the creative force behind Brand Rishi due to his production of the glossy videos used by the Ready4Rishi party leadership campaign. He studied economics and politics at Bristol University before getting a master’s in television journalism at City, University of London.

Horowitz went on to work on programmes such as ITV’s Peston and BBC’s The Andrew Marr Show, and is co-founder of creative agency The Clerkenwell Brothers. He was introduced to Sunak by Allegra Stratton, a colleague on ITV’s Peston programme, and was Sunak’s special adviser from February 2020 to July 2022.

Allegra Stratton

The former ITV News national editor is a close friend of Sunak, who was the best man at her wedding to James Forsyth, political editor at The Spectator. Sunak appointed her as his director of strategic communications in April 2020, during his time as Chancellor.

Six months later she was appointed as Downing Street’s political press secretary. Stratton resigned in 2021 after being caught on camera joking about lockdown parties in Downing Street. She is currently a contributing editor at Bloomberg News.

Nerissa Chesterfield

A former special adviser to Sunak during his time as Chancellor of Exchequer, and a leading player in the Ready4Rishi campaign – where she ran strategic comms. She has had a key role in managing the media and Sunak’s public profile.

Chesterfield is a former head of comms at the Institute of Economic Affairs and was also development manager at the Vote Leave campaign.

Lucy Noakes

An experienced public affairs specialist and former associate partner at Finsbury, who worked with Chesterfield on the Ready4Rishi campaign and was a special adviser to Sunak supporter Oliver Dowden.

Other previous roles include public affairs manager at the Rugby Football Union and public policy manager at the Lawn Tennis Association.

Katie Hile

Worked at the BBC for more than a decade, rising to become senior broadcast journalist on the BBC News at Six and BBC News at Ten.

Sunak brought her into the Treasury’s comms team in 2020. She is currently head of economy and public spending comms at the Whitehall department.

Malcolm Warne

A former editor of the Darlington & Stockton Times, Warne is Sunak’s comms officer – based in his constituency of Richmond, Yorkshire. He has held the role since Sunak was elected to Parliament.


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