Tory party drops strategist behind Boris Johnson’s 2019 election sweep

Isaac Levido, the political strategist who ran Boris Johnson’s successful election campaign in 2019, has been dropped from his role at Conservative headquarters, party insiders have confirmed.

The Tory aide, who was a protege of the controversial Australian strategist Lynton Crosby, is understood to have lost his contract, prompting incredulity from Tories who are already reeling after a turbulent few days for the party at their Birmingham conference.

Levido, along with his business partner, the pollster Michael Brooks, have been credited by Tory MPs for spearheading the biggest majority for the party since the 1980s by persuading Labour voters in the so-called red wall to switch allegiance.

His departure smooths the way for Liz Truss’s chief of staff, Mark Fullbrook, to move to Tory headquarters to run the next election campaign. The Guardian revealed last month that Fullbrook had been promised that his lobbying company could run the campaign, expected to be highly lucrative for his firm, if he joined No 10.

The move has infuriated senior Conservatives who pointed to Fullbrook’s previous experience of running election campaigns, including Zac Goldsmith’s disastrous bid for London mayor.

One senior Conservative source said: “This would be an indefensible decision at any time. Isaac and his team took the Conservatives to our best result since the 1980s, whereas Mark Fullbrook’s last campaign was losing the London mayoral race badly.

“For Liz Truss to abandon Isaac and hand a lucrative contract to her chief of staff beggars belief, especially given the chaos of the last few days in Birmingham. I am yet to speak to anyone who thinks this is anything other than crazy.”

Another senior Tory said: “In 2019 we won seats we have never held before. The red wall turned blue. If there was one man responsible for that more than Boris Johnson, it was Isaac Levido.

“Now team Truss have axed him in some murky deal. It stinks and means it’s even more likely we will be consigned to opposition at the next election.”

Lee Cain, Johnson’s former director of communications at No 10, tweeted: “Isaac Levido and Michael Brooks spearheaded the best election campaign in decades. This is a monumental error.”

It followed the revelation that, in a highly unusual move, the prime minister’s most senior adviser would receive his No 10 salary through his company, which may have helped him minimise tax. After an outcry, Downing Street confirmed he would be paid directly by the government.