Despite new role McBride is 'still floating around No 10'

What next? McBride will no longer brief journalists as former Oxfam PR professional takes over.

McBride will work closely with newly promoted Cabinet Office minister Liam Byrne in his new role at Downing Street.

Downing Street last week confirmed that McBride would no longer brief lobby journalists. Instead, he will work with Byrne on longer-term strategy and co-ordinate policy announcements across departments, according to a senior Labour Party source.

The source said: 'Damian will have more of a strategic role. He will be working with Liam Byrne... it is about having a bit more political direction from Downing Street.'

But a Number 10 insider said McBride was 'still floating around Downing Street'. He added: 'There is a question mark about what McBride will really move into. Lots of people are wondering whether he will still be there on the phone. The jury is out whether he can break away from his habit of briefing the press.'

McBride is being replaced by Downing Street special adviser Justin Forsyth. Forsyth has been a policy adviser on Africa and climate change at Number 10 since 2004, having moved from Oxfam where he was campaigns and policy director. 'He is seen as a safe pair of hands,' said one insider. 'He is a popular and trusted guy.'

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