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Dominic Cummings was seeking to 'act as the Prime Minister in all but name', Covid inquiry hears
29 November 2023, 13:55 | Updated: 29 November 2023, 14:00
Dominic Cummings was seeking to act as the Prime Minister in "all but name", the Covid inquiry has heard.
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Sajid Javid's resignation as chancellor in February 2020 was due to the behaviour of Boris Johnson's chief adviser, he told the inquiry.
"I would say that as my time as chancellor, I considered that he sought to act as the prime minister in all but name, and he tried to make all key decisions within No10 - not the prime minister," he said.
"I felt that the elected prime minister was not in charge of what was happening in his name and was largely content with Mr Cummings running the Government. I did not think that was right and that was why I ultimately resigned."
Mr Javid said that Mr Johnson tried to persuade him to stay on in the role but he insisted he must replace his senior advisers.
"On the day of my resignation, I told the prime minister that Mr Cummings was running rings around him, and would not stop until he had burnt the house down," he said.
Mr Javid also recalled other No10 advisers, including Helen MacNamara, telling him the "Prime Minister is only doing this because of Dominic Cummings".
"'Don't fall for it, Sajid', was their message," he told the inquiry. "That Dominic Cummings will be gone within a few weeks, there's no way he can survive the way he's going on."
When asked by inquiry counsel Joanne Cecil about how it related specifically to that No10 environment, he said: "It was different in my experience and, obviously, I can't speak to you about other governments.
"Certainly, I think the extent of dysfunctionality was something I had not experienced before in any government."
He went on to say: "Broadly, I think it was a widespread feeling amongst a lot of the political advisers working in number 10, many ministers, that the number 10 operation collectively was quite dysfunctional.
"I think many ministers had noticed who really seemed to be making a lot of decisions."
Mr Javid also said that central decisions during the coronavirus pandemic were "often made last minute".
In his witness statement, he said: "My observation was that decisions were often made (from the centre) at the last minute because of lots of back and forth between departments which all had different views."