Who is David Canzini and can he fix ‘chaotic’ Downing Street?

Close ally of election guru Lynton Crosby is a ‘f*****g hard man’, says MP

Boris Johnson gestures during a No. 10 press conference
(Image credit: Adrian Dennis/Pool/AFP via Getty Images)

Boris Johnson is trying to tap up a senior ally of election-winning guru Lynton Crosby in an effort to address the disorganisation in No. 10 that is threatening his leadership.

David Canzini, a director at Crosby’s polling and market research firm, has “known Johnson for more than two decades” and is currently in talks to join the prime minister’s Downing Street team as “chief adviser” and “enforcer”, The Telegraph said.

Johnson is hoping to appoint Canzini, described by one MP as “a fucking hard man”, before what promises to be “a testy meeting” with “backbenchers furious about a series of own goals” that is scheduled to take place on Wednesday, the paper added.

Subscribe to The Week

Escape your echo chamber. Get the facts behind the news, plus analysis from multiple perspectives.


Sign up for The Week's Free Newsletters

From our morning news briefing to a weekly Good News Newsletter, get the best of The Week delivered directly to your inbox.

From our morning news briefing to a weekly Good News Newsletter, get the best of The Week delivered directly to your inbox.

Sign up

‘Grown-up’ adviser

Canzini, who tweets irregularly under the alias @DCgrumpy and has his profile picture set to one of Darth Vader, is “a veteran Tory campaigner who worked on the infamous ‘Chuck Chequers’ campaign that helped remove Theresa May”, according to Politico’s Alex Wickham.

He was tipped to take over as Johnson’s chief adviser after the resignation of Dominic Cummings last year and is considered to be someone who “can provide advice in a very direct way”, a Tory MP told The Telegraph.

Allies of the prime minister hope that his appointment will “go some way to alleviating concern among Tory backbenchers who have been calling for a ‘grown-up’ adviser who can help Johnson”, the paper added.

He also “played a key role in running Johnson’s bid to become Conservative leader”, according to The Guardian, with a government source telling The Telegraph that his ongoing talks with No. 10 are “wide-ranging”.

“He has been approached,” the source added. “They are hoping that he will take a significant cut in salary.”

Trouble at the top

Johnson’s rush to appoint a new senior adviser comes hot on the heels of the Sunday Mirror revealing that he last year hosted a No. 10 Christmas quiz that breached lockdown rules.

The paper obtained images of the prime minister “pictured on screen, sitting underneath a portrait of Margaret Thatcher as he read out questions” during the festive get-together.

A source told the paper that “four teams, each made up of six people”, took part in the quiz while “huddled by computers, conferring on questions and knocking back fizz, wine and beer from a local Tesco Metro”.

According to Tim Shipman in The Sunday Times, Johnson also faces a “rebellion from 60 Tories” over the introduction of Plan B Covid restrictions “as the Omi-shambles rolls on”.

“The mood on the Conservative tables in the Commons tearoom on Wednesday resembled something between a wake and a mutiny” as MPs watched the prime minister “get pummelled” by Keir Starmer at Prime Minister’s Questions, he said.

Later that day, “MPs were seen brandishing letters they were planning to send to Graham Brady, chairman of the 1922 Committee of Tory backbenchers, demanding a vote of no confidence in the prime minister”.

According to The Spectator, which is keeping a running tally of the number of MPs that plan to vote against the government’s latest round of Covid restrictions, the number of rebellious MPs has now risen to 75.

“Labour is voting with the government,” said Politico’s Wickham, which has come “to the relief of some in Whitehall who expected some parliamentary games to prolong the pain for Downing Street”.

But “as talk of no confidence letters grows”, Tuesday’s vote “will be the largest challenge to Johnson’s authority yet”, he added.

“Chaos is part of the prime minister’s DNA,” said The Sunday Times’ Shipman.

But with one former minister describing his government as “a shitshow”, some “MPs who owe him their jobs are beginning to wonder what’s next”, he added.

Continue reading for free

We hope you're enjoying The Week's refreshingly open-minded journalism.

Subscribed to The Week? Register your account with the same email as your subscription.