Richard Spurr 1am - 4am
LBC’s Westminster Correspondent on the influence of No 10’s most infamous adviser
13 November 2020, 19:09 | Updated: 13 November 2020, 22:49
It is impossible to overstate the influence that Dominic Cummings has had on government policy – and through it, all of our lives – over the last year.
As Boris Johnson’s most senior adviser, he has been at the very forefront of the government’s response to Covid 19, involved in virtually every decision the Prime Minister has taken.
And unusually, he has also been given the remit to pursue his own projects: mass Covid, funding for new UK satellites, civil service reform and the introduce of border quarantine among them.
No longer. With immediate effect, Cummings and his close ally Lee Cain, until now Boris Johnson’s Director of Communications, are out.
They are, after the PM, the two most influential people in No10 – perhaps even in government. But from Monday, there will no longer be part of the government.
Johnson’s top team will instead have a very difficult look. In time, expect that to translate into a different style of government: softer, perhaps, more conciliatory, more liberal – more akin, in other words, to the style leadership Johnson displayed as Mayor of London.
The reasons for the two mens’ exit will become clear in the coming days but it follows mounting reports of discord within Boris Johnson’s top team.
The appointment of Allegra Stratton as the PM’s new on-camera spokesperson is said to have particularly angered Cain, especially after she insisted that she report directly to Johnson, not to Cain as expected.
Fearing being sidelined, he is reported to have asked Johnson to appoint him as No 10 Chief of Staff. Johnson wasn’t convinced, so Cain left.
Cummings was unhappy with his ally’s exit and soon followed suit. It was, in truth, likely only a matter of time – many cabinet ministers and Tory MPs have been urging Boris Johnson to remove his top adviser of him for some time and will not be sad to see the back of him.
But even his critics would accept that Cummings had huge influence in No10 and was a defining figure in the Johnson government.
The biggest question now is who will assume that mantle. The Prime Minister is now expected to appoint a more traditional chief of staff to oversee the running of No 10 and his government.
Whoever assumes that role will play a hugely significant part in British politics in the weeks, months and probably years to come.
Boris Johnson will no doubt hope that whoever it is proves less controversial than the man they will, in effect, be replacing.