Dominic Cummings leaves role as chief adviser to Boris Johnson

Dominic Cummings leaves role as chief adviser to Boris Johnson

Prime Minister Boris Johnson's top aide Dominic Cummings leaves 10 Downing Street, London, with a box. Picture: Yui Mok/PA Wire

Dominic Cummings and Lee Cain will continue to work for the Prime Minister and Downing Street until mid-December, sources said.

The UK Prime Minister’s chief adviser, Mr Cummings, was seen leaving No 10 carrying boxes on Friday evening amid reports he had quit his post with immediate effect.

It is understood both he and Mr Cain, who resigned as communications chief, will still be employed until the middle of next month, although reports suggested Mr Cummings would be working from home.

Edward Lister was announced as the interim chief of staff pending a permanent appointment.

The news came amid a bitter power struggle in No 10 over the past few days, which started with the resignation announcement by Mr Cummings’ fellow Vote Leave veteran Mr Cain on Wednesday.

On Thursday night, Mr Cummings insisted to the BBC that “rumours of me threatening to resign are invented” after it was suggested he would exit in protest over the treatment of Mr Cain.

Dominic Cummings leaves 10 Downing Street earlier this evening. Picture: Yui Mok/PA Wire
Dominic Cummings leaves 10 Downing Street earlier this evening. Picture: Yui Mok/PA Wire

But Mr Cummings also said his “position hasn’t changed since my January blog” in which he said he hoped to be “largely redundant” by 2021.

Tory backbenchers urged No 10 to use the exit of the aide whose mid-lockdown trip to Durham cemented his notoriety as an opportunity to restore the values of “respect, integrity and trust”.

Senior Tory MP Bernard Jenkin said: “It’s an opportunity to reset how the Government operates and to emphasise some values about what we want to project as a Conservative Party in Government,” the chair of the Commons liaison committee told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme.

“I’m not surprised in a way that it is ending in the way it is. No prime minister can afford a single adviser to become a running story, dominating his Government’s communications and crowding out the proper messages the Government wants to convey.

“Nobody is indispensable.” Gavin Barwell, former chief of staff to then-British Prime Minister Theresa May, said Cummings’ departure was a “big moment”.

He tweeted: “Boris now has an opportunity to get a more harmonious, effective Downing Street operation (like he had at City Hall); improve relations with the parliamentary party; and lead a less confrontational, more unifying government that better reflects his own character.” 

Highly-publicised in-fighting at the heart of Government led to Mr Cain’s resignation on Wednesday.

He had been offered the post of chief of staff but a backlash among Tories and Mr Johnson’s inner circle sealed his departure.

Shadow health secretary Jonathan Ashworth highlighted the strain being heaped on the NHS and the public by Covid-19 while “Downing Street is paralysed by the soap opera of these self-indulgent spin doctors,” adding: “It’s pathetic.” 

The UK Prime Minister’s official spokesman, James Slack, who will replace Mr Cain when he leaves in the new year, continued to insist that Mr Johnson is not being distracted from the national crisis by the row.

“What the Prime Minister and the Government are focused upon is taking every possible step to get this country through the coronavirus pandemic,” he said

More in this section

IE_logo_newsletters

Select your favourite newsletters and get the best of Irish Examiner delivered to your inbox