UK POLITICS: The Cummings & Goings at Number 10 as Dynamic Duo Exit Stage Right …
Well that was a week in Downing Street with the unceremonious departure of two of Prime Minister, Boris Johnson´s key advisers, Lee Cain his Director of Communications & of course Dominic Cummings, his Chief adviser.
The news that Mr Cain – who worked with Mr Cummings and the PM in the Vote Leave campaign to get Britain out of the EU was departing shocked many and even the offer of becoming the Prime ministers Chief of Staff didn’t deter his exit.
Last Tuesday (10th November 2020) Mr Cain was Mr Johnson’s presumptive new chief of staff, having loyally served him long before he entered Downing Street, however Downing Street insiders have revealed that his resignation came after the Prime Minister’s fiancée, Carrie Simons and senior No 10 grandees blackballed his appointment, suggesting that Ms Simons may well be in the running for a senior Number 10 role.
Mr Cain, will be replaced as the director of communications by James Slack – a former journalist already one of the PM’s spokesmen.
In his resignation statement, Mr Cain said it had been a privilege to work for Mr Johnson, but he added: “After careful consideration I have this evening resigned as No 10 director of communications and will leave the post at the end of the year. In response, Mr Johnson thanked Mr Cain for his “extraordinary service” to him, calling him a “true ally and friend”.
Mr Johnson is thought to be looking to fill the post of chief of staff as part of a wider reorganisation, which apparently will also see ex-BBC journalist Allegra Stratton take on a role fronting new daily televised press briefings.
Then the double-whammy hit with the announcement that Chief Adviser, Dominic Cummings was also leaving employment behind the black door. While many typecast Cummings as a slimy weasel other lauded him as a genius few government advisers have been so controversial or influential.
Why the double exit?
Well again the party line on this is divided. However, the smart money says that Boris Johnson became aware that the dynamic duo had been briefing against both him and his fiancee, Carrie Symonds.
The Prime minister, reportedly, held a meeting with Cummings and Cain to discuss their “general behaviour” where he is understood to have accused his aides of briefing against him and Ms Symonds and destabilising the government in the midst of Brexit negotiations ahead of a crucial phase in talks in Brussels this week.
What’s clear is that, despite Cummings’ claim that he was always planning to leave at the end of the year, the dramatic and public nature of his and Cain’s departure was not what they or the Prime minister would have wanted. All parties may have put on a good-natured front on Friday but the relationships are now ice-cold.
Some commentators say that the double departures come at a time when both Johnson and the Government are facing serious questions over its handling of the Coronavirus, its Lockdown policy and its inability to forge any deal whatsoever with the EU.
And just when it couldn’t get much worse, Johnson has had to start another spell of Self-isolation after he was in contact with a person who has since tested positive for Coronavirus. This week promises more problems for the beleaguered government.