Edward Lister

Sir Edward Julian Udny-Lister (25 October 1949) is a British civil servant, political strategist and former politician. He has served as Prime Minister Boris Johnson's Chief Strategic Advisor since July 2019, having been Chief of Staff and Deputy Mayor for Policy and Planning under Johnson during the latter's time as Mayor of London.


Edward Lister
Edward Lister.jpg
Prime Minister's Chief Strategic Advisor
Assumed office
24 July 2019
Prime MinisterBoris Johnson
Preceded byPosition established
(Gavin Barwell as Downing Street Chief of Staff)
Personal details
Edward Lister

(1949-10-25) 25 October 1949 (age 70)
London, England
Political partyConservative
Spouse(s)Eileen Elizabeth McHugh (m.1979)
EducationLondon Nautical School

Early life and educationEdit

Lister was born on 25 October 1949, to George and Margot Udny-Lister. He was educated at London Nautical School.[1]

Business careerEdit

Lister joined Mather and Platt Alarms in 1969 as a trainee, and rose to become Commercial Director. In 1979 he moved to Britannia Security as Sales Manager.[2]

In 1987 he joined ADT Fire & Security, initially as Major Projects Director, and from 1990 as general manager. ADT at this time was controlled and led by Lord Ashcroft.

In 1997 ADT was purchased by Tyco.[3] From 1997 to 2007 Lister was Director, Government Relations, for Tyco Fire & Security.[4] In the early years of this period Tyco was known for its very hard-driving and cost-conscious operational management culture, under Dennis Kozlowski.

Public service careerEdit

Lister was first elected to Wandsworth Council in 1976.[4]

From 1992 to 2011, Lister was the leader of Wandsworth Council.[5][6] His approach was regarded as congruent with Thatcherism,[7] and he supported adapting policy to local conditions.[8][9] Critics have called Lister a 'right-wing uber-privatiser' who privatised street cleaning and refuse collection, and sold off council housing.[10] Wandsworth was one of the earliest councils to take such actions.[11] Between 2007 and 2010 only 11% of the "affordable" homes built in Wandsworth were for social rent – the lowest in the whole of London.[12] Many ex-council homes became owned by concentrated and absent private landlords.[13] Lister has been criticised for defending bankers and other wealthy Londoners, saying it would be "really bad news" for London if they left.[14] He has similarly been criticised for high focus on cutting costs.[2] Others have said he made Wandsworth the most successful value for money local authority in the country, with the country's lowest council tax charge and top satisfaction ratings from its residents.[15] In 2019, Wandsworth's council tax remained the lowest in the UK, which the council ascribed to continued cost focus.[16][17]

From 2007 to 2019, Lister was a Director of Localis, a think-tank focused on local government issues, and particularly localism.

In 2008 Lister carried out a financial audit of City Hall finances for Mayor Boris Johnson.[14] In 2011, following the death of Simon Milton,[18] Lister was appointed as Chief of Staff and Deputy Mayor for Policy and Planning[19][20] at the Greater London Authority, under Boris Johnson who was Mayor of London. He served until 2016.[21] One area of focus was long-term infrastructure planning.[22]

After leaving City Hall, he took up the role of Chairman of Homes England,[21][23] and also served as a non-executive director at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, including during the time that Boris Johnson served as Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, and other board roles.[24]

In August 2019 Lister stepped down from his position at Homes England in order to focus on his newly-created role as Chief Strategy Advisor to Prime Minister Johnson.[25] As well as detailed operational management,[26][27] Lister played an important role in some aspects of Brexit diplomacy.[28] Lister is believed to have indicated that he may not stay in the role after Brexit is resolved.[29]

Approach and key skillsEdit

Lister has said he desires to understand the operations he is responsible for; "If I'm to do the job properly, I've got to understand it, how it works, what makes it tick." His focus is on value; "Firstly, it's got to be about value for money, that's absolutely essential." His key skill is operational delivery; "I just want to get the thing done. That's what I'm good at. The organising and doing and making it happen."[14][30]

Lister is regarded as well-organised, and adept at managing underlying relationships.[31]

Personal lifeEdit

Lister married Eileen Elizabeth McHugh in 1979. They have a son and a daughter.[1][32] Their other son, Andrew, died in 2011 in Thailand, reportedly of a heart attack.[20]


Lister was made a Knight Bachelor in the 2011 Birthday Honours, "for services to local government".[33][34] He received the accolade on 30 November 2011.[35]


  1. ^ a b "Lister, Sir Edward Julian Udny-". Who's Who. ukwhoswho.com. A & C Black, an imprint of Bloomsbury Publishing plc. doi:10.1093/ww/9780199540884.013.U254768. (subscription or UK public library membership required)
  2. ^ a b Lambert, Harry. "Who's in charge inside No 10: the maverick advisers running Britain". New Statesman. Retrieved 7 March 2020.
  3. ^ "Our History". ADT. Retrieved 6 March 2014.
  4. ^ a b "Pre-appointment hearing with the Government's preferred candidate for the post of Chair of the Homes and Communities Agency". Communities and Local Government Committee, House of Commons.
  5. ^ Hill, Dave (8 June 2011). "Edward Lister: Boris's Thatcherite?". The Guardian. Retrieved 30 July 2019.
  6. ^ "Lister joins Boris as Deputy Mayor". Wandsworth Council. 18 April 2011. Retrieved 30 July 2019.
  7. ^ Webber, Esther (26 July 2019). "Margaret Thatcher referred in the 1980s to Wandsworth as her "favourite council"". The Times.
  8. ^ Hill, Dave (8 June 2011). "Edward Lister: Boris's Thatcherite?". The Guardian.
  9. ^ "Putney's Local Web site". Putney SW15.
  10. ^ "How right-wing is London's new deputy mayor?". LabourList. 18 April 2011.
  11. ^ "Margaret Thatcher in the 1980s as her "favourite council" - Google Search". www.google.com.
  12. ^ Hill, Dave (19 May 2011). "Edward Lister: why Wandsworth is wonderful". The Guardian.
  13. ^ "Monument to Mrs Thatcher's legacy". GMB.
  14. ^ a b c ""The Axeman Cometh; Edward Lister, the Mayor's New Deputy, Tells Pippa Crerar He Wants to Drive Down Costs and Make London a 'Nicer' Place to Live In"". The Evening Standard. 20 April 2011 – via Questia.
  15. ^ "Edward Lister". West London Business.
  16. ^ "Wandsworth Council votes to increase council tax by maximum amount". Wandsworth Times.
  17. ^ "Tory council with one of lowest council tax rates in country 'exploiting' low-paid workers". The Independent. 19 February 2019.
  18. ^ "Wandsworth leader to become Mayor's chief of staff". Your Local Guardian.
  19. ^ "Lister, Sir Edward Julian Udny-". Who's Who & Who Was Who. doi:10.1093/ww/9780199540884.001.0001/ww-9780199540884-e-254768/version/3.
  20. ^ a b "Andrew Lister, Son Of London Deputy Mayor Sir Edward Lister, Dies In Thailand". Huffington Post. 8 November 2011. Retrieved 7 March 2020.
  21. ^ a b "Sir Edward Lister". Government of the United Kingdom. Retrieved 30 July 2019.
  22. ^ "Green Sky Thinking Launch 2015 – Sir Edward Lister on London's infrastructure challenges to 2050". Elementa Consulting.
  23. ^ News, Mirage (25 June 2019). "Sir Edward Lister reappointed as Chair of Homes England". Mirage News.
  24. ^ "Speaker 10". landor.co.uk.
  25. ^ Homes England (13 August 2019). "Sir Edward Lister resigns as Homes England Chair" (Press release). Government of the United Kingdom. Retrieved 15 August 2019.
  26. ^ "The backstop is 'not up for negotiation', Ireland tells PM". Evening Standard. 11 August 2019.
  27. ^ Press Association (8 March 2016). "Boris Johnson's staff told to toe the line on Brexit". The Guardian.
  28. ^ McTague, Tom. "Boris Johnson Thinks He's in Control". The Atlantic.
  29. ^ "Inside No 10: Under siege but still defiant". Financial Times.
  30. ^ Communities and Local Government Committee, House of Commons (14 March 2007). Is there a future for regional government?: fourth report of session 2006-07, Vol. 2: Oral and supplementary written evidence. The Stationery Office – via Google Books.
  31. ^ https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2019-07-24/johnson-installs-cool-calm-eddie-lister-as-senior-adviser
  32. ^ "Oxford Index". Oxford Academic. doi:10.1093/ww/9780199540884.013.u254768.
  33. ^ "Knighthood for Edward Lister". Conservative Home. 13 June 2011. Retrieved 21 August 2019.
  34. ^ "No. 59808". The London Gazette (1st supplement). 10 June 2011. p. 2.
  35. ^ "No. 60245". The London Gazette. 21 August 2012. p. 16079.