Theresa May is set to face fresh questions about her relationships with the business community amid signs that some of her key liaison team were poised to quit Downing Street.
Sky News has learnt that Chris Brannigan, who commanded a tank squadron during the liberation of the Iraqi city of Basra in 2003, is stepping down as director of government relations at Ten Downing Street.
Sources said he informed colleagues of his plans to leave on Monday.
Mr Brannigan’s departure, which comes less than 10 months after he took up the role, will raise renewed questions about Mrs May’s dealings with the private sector.
It also coincides with persistent rumours that John Godfrey, another senior figure in Downing Street who was recruited from Legal & General after Mrs May became PM, is also on the verge of leaving.
Sources said that Chris Hopkins, a business relations adviser at Number 10, was also expected to depart.
Business leaders have become increasingly alarmed about their lack of access to Downing Street at a critical time for many investors, with formal Brexit talks now underway.
Mrs May decided to disband the Business Advisory Group which met on a quarterly basis under her predecessor, David Cameron, instead favouring occasional dinners with bosses and their spouses.
Her determination to pursue a so-called ‘hard Brexit’, under which the UK would leave both the Single Market and the Customs Union, has set her at odds with a number of Cabinet colleagues, including the Chancellor, Philip Hammond.
Mr Brannigan could not be reached for comment on Tuesday, while a Downing Street spokesman declined to comment.