HARRY COLE: Finally, a battle for power in Westminster that’s NOT about Labour… 4 min read

Civil Service Permanent Secretaries are already jockeying for position in anticipation of the departure of Cabinet Secretary Sir Mark Sedwill (pictured)

Civil Service Permanent Secretaries are already jockeying for position in anticipation of the departure of Cabinet Secretary Sir Mark Sedwill (pictured)

A brutal leadership race is brewing in Westminster – and not the unsubtle one to replace Jeremy Corbyn.

Civil Service Permanent Secretaries are already jockeying for position in anticipation of the departure of Whitehall’s grandest panjandrums next year: Cabinet Secretary Sir Mark Sedwill and the Civil Service’s £234,999 chief executive John Manzoni.

Despite an early ‘bromance’, tension has emerged between Sir Mark and Boris Johnson’s right-hand man Dominic Cummings, which could lead to his departure. ‘The whole best buddies thing has not really lasted,’ says my No 10 mole. Meanwhile, Manzoni is understood to be eyeing a return to the private sector.

Early favourites for the top jobs are Treasury chief Sir Tom Scholar or Home Office boss Sir Philip Rutnam, but others are keen to be in the mix.

Antonia Romeo, at the Department for International Trade, has risen quickly through the ranks with colleagues whispering she is eyeing another speedy promotion. But it would pit her against her closest Whitehall ally, Matthew Rycroft, our ambitious former man at the UN who is now in charge at International Development.

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But hats off to Work and Pensions boss Peter Schofield who has wisely told colleagues he believes he is the only Brexiteer Permanent Secretary in Whitehall.

That will surely help in the likely case of a Johnson victory on Thursday.

Vote for Buzz Rightyear!

Mystery in green and pleasant Tonbridge and Malling, where the grinning face of Tory Tom Tugendhat has been replaced on of his giant Election posters by a different celebrity or cartoon character each day

Last week alone he was Elvis, Judi Dench, Buzz Lightyear –picture – and even Bruce Forsyth. But with the face being changed in the dead of night, the comedy culprit remains an enigma even to the former Army intelligence officer.

He tells me he is ‘grateful to whoever is vandalising my poster for improving the area by making me look better.’

No expense appeared to have been spared by the Conservatives on an ultra-slick video to launch their multi-million-pound online advertising blitz yesterday morning. 

But the Scottish narrator’s booming voice will be familiar to Tory campaign staffers, as the dulcet baritone is one of their own. 

Political consultant James Dinsmore – whose dad David is a former Sun editor and bigwig at Rupert Murdoch’s News UK – did it for free.

Sent out to defend Labour’s incomprehensible Brexit position, bungling Barry Gardiner lived up to his unfortunate reputation by telling the BBC that Britain should seek to replicate Norway’s relationship with Brussels. 

Unfortunately for the ‘constant Gardiner’ – so called because he’s always digging a hole – Labour’s official policy is to stay in the EU’s customs union, of which Norway is not a member. 

Currie’s below the belt swipe at Major

Sir John Major appeared to get swift comeuppance for endorsing ex-Tory anti-Brexit candidates – courtesy of his one-time lover Edwina Currie.

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When Twitter users speculated that he wasn’t that good in the sack, Leaver Mrs Currie replied enigmatically: ‘Well, quite…’ Mrs Currie, who had a four-year affair with Major in the 1980s, declined to comment further last night, saying: ‘The less publicity he gets, the better.’ But she said does ‘not at all’ approve of his latest comments.

The Election’s worst stunt yet? I hear the Tories sent a poor aide dressed as in a fluffy woodchuck costume to follow around Lib Dem candidate Chuka Umunna. Apparently, they ‘would chuck Chuka.’ Groan. 

Left-wing luvvie Emma Thompson once declared Jeremy Corbyn ‘inspired’ her but is sounding distinctly lukewarm about the Labour leader these days. 

Asked if she would vote for him, the Remoaner actress told the FT: ‘I don’t know, it’s all such a mess, if I’m frank… Parliamentary politics is not at its best, the level of debate is very poo and so I’m not hearing the voices I want to hear at all,’ Oh well, at least Corbyn still has Lily Allen…