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Rishi Sunak 'held secret talks to bring back Dominic Cummings' to help win next election
31 December 2023, 08:08 | Updated: 31 December 2023, 12:41
Rishi Sunak sought a "secret deal" to help him win the next general election, Dominic Cummings has claimed.
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The PM is said to have asked Mr Cummings for advice on how to hold on to power when he goes to the country in 2024.
Mr Cummings urged him to abandon his cautious economic approach, hold an emergency budget, settle the NHS strikes and double the threshold at which people pay the 40p rate of income tax from £50,271 to £100,000, it is understood.
The former Vote Leave campaign director, who was behind the 2019 Tory election drive that ended in a landslide victory, also reportedly advocated leaving the European Convention on Human Rights.
The pair were said to have met in December last year in London and in July in North Yorkshire.
"He wanted a secret deal in which I delivered the election and he promised to take government seriously after the election," Mr Cummings told the Sunday Times.
"But I'd rather the Tories lose than continue in office without prioritising what's important and the voters.
"The post-2016 Tories are summed up by the fact that Sunak, like Johnson, would rather lose than take government seriously.
"Both thought their MPs agreed with them, and both were right."
The former aide said he was only prepared to help if Mr Sunak would commit to prioritising the "most critical things", citing nuclear weapons infrastructure, pandemics, Ministry of Defence procurement, artificial intelligence (AI) and "broken core government institutions".
No10 did not deny Mr Cummings' account but said no job offer was made.
A Downing Street source told the paper: "It was a broad discussion about politics and campaigning, no job was offered."
Following the report, Mr Cummings posted on Twitter: "Don't know why someone at No10 blabbed about this but ... Brief statement on Times story about the PM asking me to smash Labour and win the election, what I asked for in return (e.g sorting out the horror show of our nuclear weapons infrastructure, pandemic defences), & why we couldn't do a deal."
2023 - A year in politics
It comes after Rishi Sunak used his New Year's message to the nation to hint at further tax cuts ahead of the election.
He urged the public to focus on the promise of a "brighter future" as he highlighted an upcoming reduction in national insurance as an example of change under his leadership.
Mr Sunak will call a general election in 2024, with the Tories battling to hold on to power as opinion polls suggest a healthy Labour lead.
He said his "resolution" would be to "keep driving forward."
Describing 2023 as a "momentous year," he said: "Inflation is set to fall further, cutting the cost of living for everyone.
"And we're not stopping there.
"We're going further to grow our economy by reducing debt, cutting taxes, and rewarding hard work, building secure supplies of energy here at home, backing British business and delivering world class education.
"And we're taking decisive action to stop the boats and break the business model of the criminal gangs."