Why has Dominic Cummings quit Downing Street?

14 November 2020, 09:02 | Updated: 14 November 2020, 14:56

Different explanations behind Dominic Cummings' departure have emerged this morning
Different explanations behind Dominic Cummings' departure have emerged this morning. Picture: PA
Nick Hardinges

By Nick Hardinges

Dominic Cummings has quit Downing Street, with UK newspapers offering a range of different reasons as to why he is departing.

Stories about the departure of Boris Johnson's key adviser are dominating British newspapers on Saturday morning.

Mr Cummings and fellow Vote Leave aide Lee Cain, who was forced out of No 10 earlier this week, will still be employed until the middle of next month and will work from their homes, according to the Press Association news agency.

However, contrasting stories explaining their exits have emerged across the UK media: from the prime minister telling them to leave "and never return", to Mr Cummings allegedly branding Mr Johnson "indecisive".

So why has Dominic Cummings quit Downing Street?

Read more: 'Not before time' - politicians react to Cummings departure

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The Financial Times

According to a report in the business-focused newspaper, the prime minister held a 45-minute-long meeting with messieurs Cummings and Cain on Friday, during which he accused them of destabilising the government amid tense talks with the European Union.

The UK leader also accused the pair of briefing against him and his partner, Carrie Symonds, and was said to have shown them text messages which proved this allegation.

Mr Johnson then reportedly told the two men to leave Downing Street and never return.

The Mirror

However, a source of Mr Cain's former employer, the Daily Mirror, who is said to have knowledge of the exchange, described the FT's version of events as "horses**t".

The paper also printed a photograph showing the communications chief grinning alongside the prime minister with both wearing boxing gloves inscribed with the message "Get Brexit Done".

An unidentified source said the picture was taken hours after Mr Johnson had ordered the two figures to leave No 10.

The Times

The Times has reported that Boris told messieurs Cummings and Cain to quit for the sake of the government amid fears they would "poison the well" if they continued in their respective positions.

One anonymous senior Tory told the publication they feared Mr Cummings would try to "settle scores" after leaving.

Meanwhile, the paper also heard from other senior figures that instability could follow if the two men take other aides with them on their way out.

"The whole way decisions are made in Downing Street is going to change," a source told The Times.

The Daily Telegraph

Mr Cummings allegedly called his former boss "indecisive" as he left No 10, according to the Telegraph, but a source told the paper the accusation was simply "the occasions when the PM won't do what he wants him to".

The publication's editorial says the adviser's departure was "probably just as well, because there can be no ambiguity at the top of government", adding: "The next few weeks could define (Mr Johnson's) premiership."

The Guardian

Other special advisers were reportedly delighted by Mr Cummings' exit, according to the Guardian.

Boris Johnson was "immediately urged to appoint an MP as his permanent chief of staff to help heal deep divisions with backbenchers amid warnings that his parliamentary party risked becoming ungovernable", the paper wrote.