Boris Johnson has secured the services of a senior business adviser, in one of his first appointments before taking the reins as prime minister.
It was confirmed on Tuesday afternoon – just hours after the results of the Tory leadership vote were revealed – that Andrew Griffith, the chief operating officer of Sky – the owner of Sky News – was to leave the company for Downing St.
The creation of the full-time role will be seen as a move to establish better relations with employers after Mr Johnson was reported to have responded to warnings over Brexit by firms by saying “f*** business”.
A key part of Mr Griffith’s role will be to foster improved ties and channels of communication as major business groups – both in the UK and abroad – continue to reject the prospect of a no-deal exit from the European Union.
Mr Johnson has previously committed to a Halloween deadline of 31 October for the UK to leave if changes to the current Withdrawal Agreement with Brussels can not be agreed.
The Financial Times, which first reported on Mr Johnson’s move for Mr Griffith, cited a source as saying the Sky veteran planned to build a team at Number 10 to “give a voice to business” at the top table.
The executive was a key figure in the company’s growth in the run-up to the takeover by Comcast last year.
Sky said his appointment was effective from Wednesday.
Chief executive Jeremy Darroch said: “Over the course of his twenty years at Sky and since 2008 as a member of the Board as CFO (chief financial officer) and then as chief operating officer, Andrew has played a fundamental role in many of our proudest collective achievements.
“These include transforming the business from around three million customers in the UK & Ireland to over twenty four million customers across Europe today, our successful entry into new markets such as broadband and mobile and building a business organically to become one of the UK’s most valuable FTSE 100 companies.
“Whilst Andrew will be missed, he leaves behind a business that is performing well, has an ambitious set of growth plans and a strong team of colleagues.”
He faces a stiff challenge to counter opposition to no deal among business groups.
While congratulating Mr Johnson on his leadership victory, CBI director-general Carolyn Fairbairn warned him not to “underestimate the benefits” of a good Brexit deal.
She said: “Business needs three things in the first 100 days: A Brexit deal that unlocks confidence; clear signals the UK is open for business; and a truly pro-enterprise vision for our country.
“On Brexit, the new prime minister must not underestimate the benefits of a good deal.
“It will unlock new investment and confidence in factories and boardrooms across the country. Business will back you across Europe to help get there.
“Early signals back home also matter. From a new immigration system to green-lighting major infrastructure, there is no time to waste,” she concluded.