Liam Booth-Smith

HM Treasury

Special Adviser to the Chancellor and head of Joint Economic Unit

A former policy wonk, Liam Booth-Smith initially entered Boris Johnson’s Number Ten as senior adviser to the prime minister. But when Rishi Sunak became chancellor, Sunak’s first request was that Booth-Smith be his chief of staff. The men worked together closely at the Ministry of Housing, Communities & Local Government, where Booth-Smith was special adviser to former housing secretary James Brokenshire and Sunak was local government minister. Booth-Smith has been at the forefront of a major change in how special advisers work, establishing the joint Number Ten-Number Eleven economic unit. A key figure at the Treasury, Booth-Smith has become the ultimate poacher-turned-gamekeeper, having run rings around the Treasury at the Ministry of Housing, notably when playing a key role getting £600m out of Philip Hammond to fix Grenfell Tower-style flammable cladding. Having been brought up by a single mother on a council estate in Stoke, Booth-Smith’s easy charm and cool head belies his laser-like focus on battling bureaucratic roadblocks. He has written of parts of England that are “stuck” and “still wear the economic scars of 1982”. So he’s a man on a mission to level up, and will be at the heart of government for years to come – especially if Rishi Sunak eventually becomes prime minister. He’s also one half of a small number of Spad power couples, engaged as he is to MHCLG Spad Olivia Oates.