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Civil service takes centre stage as parties start making deals

THE head of the civil service Gus O’Donnell ­– known as God in Whitehall ­– yesterday took centre stage as he coordinated horse-trading between party leaders.

O’Donnell has been preparing for a hung parliament since February, when pollsters first suggested that neither Labour nor the Tories would win an outright majority.

One of his main jobs is to keep the Queen’s private secretary Christopher Geidt abreast of negotiations. The monarch is currently at Windsor, but is on call to return to London should the political situation result in a change of government.

O’Donnell is responsible for drafting guidelines that allow Brown to stay in Downing Street until a new government is formed.

And he has given the Lib Dems and Tories access to civil service officials, to facilitate their dealmaking.