Boris Johnson’s chief of staff has cancelled all leave for government advisers in a missive sent to staff last night.
The command raises speculation that a snap election may be in the midst as the Conservatives face an uphill battle to deliver Brexit with a wafer thin majority in parliament.
Special advisers were emailed by Johnson’s senior adviser Edward Lister on Thursday night, saying there was “some confusion about taking holiday” and told none should be booked until 31 October.
He noted that compensation should be considered “on a case by case basis” for those who had already booked leave, though the email said advisors were free to spend their weekends “as you wish”.
“There is serious work to be done between now and October 31st and we should be focused on the job,” the email said.
The new directive angered many recipients, who say staff are exhausted and are facing an unprecedented workload in September and October.
One recipient told The Guardian that special advisers, known as “spads”, are being used as part of the PR war to convince the public the government is serious about no deal.
Diplomats in Brussels were briefed early this week that a no-deal Brexit now appears to be the UK Government’s “central scenario”.
Boris Johnson’s top Europe adviser David Frost was sent to meet with senior EU figures this week to deliver the message that the UK will be leaving on October 31 “whatever the circumstances”.