Cummings out as Boris seeks a softer Brexit message
Dominic Cummings leaving Number Ten for the last time
Boris Johnson’s top adviser Dominic Cummings quit his job in Downing Street tonight with immediate effect – a month before he was due to leave.
Mr Cummings was seen walking out the front door of Number 10 carrying a box of possessions following a lunchtime meeting with the Prime Minister.
His departure follows a hectic few days of chaos among the Prime Minister’s back room team. Number 10 communications director Lee Cain quit on Wednesday.
Their departure is likely to prompt a re-setting of Boris Johnson’s message on Brexit and the UK’s policy on Europe.
Mr Cummings insisted he had expected his job to be ‘redundant’ by the end of the year and had made that view public in a blog in January in which he called for ‘weirdos and misfits’ to apply for Government jobs until the end of the year.
Boris Johnson hired Mr Cummings in July 2019 to be his senior adviser and their “Get Brexit Done” strategy was the main campaign message in the Christmas general election.
But Mr Cummings was drawn into a national scandal when he was accused of disobeying his own lockdown advice by travelling to the north of England.
His departure has thrown up a concern about the growing influence of Mr Johnson’s partner Carrie Symonds. One source said that she now seemed to be acting as gatekeeper over who gets senior jobs in Downing Street.
Mr Cummings had pushed Mr Cain for promotion to the role of chief of staff, but the move was understood to have been opposed by Ms Symonds, herself a former senior figure in the party.
One senior Tory said it was “extraordinary and unacceptable” that Downing Street should allow itself to be distracted by internal squabbles’ in the midst of a pandemic.
The departure of Mr Cummings will loosen the grip of the Vote Leave faction of advisers inside Number 10 and Mr Johnson is expected to use the departures to drop the aggressive style adopted by the Vote Leave campaign.
He is also keen to push other issues such as climate change and building the green economy.
A new press secretary to the Prime Minister, Allegra Stratton, will hold daily US-style televised media briefings on Mr Johnson’s behalf in the New Year.