Boost for McBride as Stace quits No 10

Downing Street strategic communications adviser Nick Stace is quitting after less than a year in post.

As reported on (1 December), Stace is moving to Australia where he will head a consumer group called Choice.

Stace is said to be well liked and highly rated by colleagues in the Downing Street strategic communications unit. But his departure follows months of strained relations with the 'old guard' of advisers around Gordon Brown, headed by the PM's special adviser on press, Damian McBride.

The departure of Stace further strengthens the hand of McBride, coming weeks after the departure of Stephen Carter, who lasted ten months as Brown's strategy chief. One Downing Street insider said: 'This is an early Christmas present for Damian.'

Earlier this year, McBride was reported to have been demoted as part of Brown's summer reshuffle. But the insider said: 'Far from being pulled back, Damian has effectively been promoted.'

However, many Downing Street staffers believe there has been a marked improvement in relations within Number 10 in recent months. 'It's a different place in terms of atmosphere now,' said a second Downing Street source.

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