PM refers to Telegraph as his 'real boss', Dominic Cummings claims

20 July 2021, 21:56

Former Downing Street aide Dominic Cummings has levelled a number of accusations at the Prime Minister
Former Downing Street aide Dominic Cummings has levelled a number of accusations at the Prime Minister. Picture: Alamy

By Daisy Stephens

Dominic Cummings, the Prime Minister’s former aide, has claimed Boris Johnson refers to the Telegraph as his “real boss”.

Discussing the weeks prior to the second lockdown in November, the ex-adviser to the PM said Mr Johnson did not want to introduce the most stringent restrictions again for "a combination" of reasons.

One of those, Mr Cummings alleged, was that Sir Keir Starmer had called for them, "and therefore the prime minister felt it would be politically disastrous" to admit the Labour leader had been correct.

Another was that he had "a bunch of Tory MPs screaming at him" who, the former aide said, "had lost their minds" and were saying "all kinds of complete fake news about Covid".

But he also claimed the PM was listening to the Telegraph, "who he always referred to as his - quote - my real boss - end quote".

Asked again whether Mr Johnson calls the paper his "real boss", Mr Cummings immediately replied, "yes".

"The Telegraph, of course, was extremely hostile to doing anything," he added.

The newspaper previously employed Mr Johnson as a columnist.

Mr Cummings, who left No10 in the autumn after a power struggle, made a series of explosive allegations about Mr Johnson, the government's handling of the coronavirus pandemic and Brexit during an interview with the BBC.

LBC has approached the Telegraph and Downing Street for comment.

In the interview, Mr Cummings also said he wanted to replace the prime minister just weeks after he took office in December 2019.

He said he assisted the Conservative Party poll victory in order to settle the Brexit debate rather than because of any firm belief in Mr Johnson's leadership.

"He doesn't have a plan, he doesn't know how to be prime minister and we only got him in there because we had to solve a certain problem, not because he was the right person to be running the country,” said Mr Cummings.

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He also shed more light on his departure from No10, saying his relationship with Mr Johnson was starting to break down "by summer 2020", with him and former director of communications Lee Cain departing by November.

Explaining the split, Mr Cummings said the PM was "fed up with the media portrayal of him being a kind of puppet for the Vote Leave team, it was driving him round the bend".

He also said there were disagreements over the strategy on handling the pandemic, for improving the country and over the-now Mrs Johnson's increasing influence over how the government was run.

The pair had a "big argument", according to Mr Cummings, after Mr Johnson's then-girlfriend Carrie Symonds called for people to be fired or promoted "in ways that I thought were unethical and unprofessional".

In response, a No10 spokesman said: "Since the start of the pandemic, the prime minister has taken the necessary action to protect lives and livelihoods, guided by the best scientific advice.

"The government he leads has delivered the fastest vaccination rollout in Europe, saved millions of jobs through the furlough scheme and prevented the NHS from being overwhelmed through three national lockdowns.

"The government is entirely focused on emerging cautiously from the pandemic and building back better."

The spokesman added: "Political appointments are entirely made by the prime minister."