'Not before time': Politicians react to departure of Dominic Cummings

13 November 2020, 17:51 | Updated: 14 November 2020, 10:12

Dominic Cummings has quit No10 with immediate effect
Dominic Cummings has quit No10 with immediate effect. Picture: PA

By Asher McShane

MPs were tonight sharing their views on the early departure of Boris Johnson's top aide Dominic Cummings.

Mr Cummings left Downing Street this evening. He was pictured carrying a cardboard box of his belongings following reports he was due to quit by Christmas.

Tory backbenchers urged No 10 to use the exit of the aide whose mid-lockdown trip to Durham cemented his notoriety as an opportunity to restore the values of "respect, integrity and trust".

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After the Prime Minister's chief adviser was seen leaving No10, Liberal Democrat leader Ed Davey tweeted: "Not before time".

Gavin Barwell, former chief of staff to then-Prime Minister Theresa May, tweeted: "Big moment: Boris now has an opportunity to get a more harmonious, effective Downing Street operation (like he had at City Hall); improve relations with the parliamentary party; and lead a less confrontational, more unifying government that better reflects his own character."

Tory former deputy prime minister Lord Heseltine, president of the European Movement UK, said: "In an interview in March, I forecast Dominic Cummings would be gone by Christmas.

"I can think of no man who has done so much harm to this country in so short a time.

"He has left a generation to pay the price of Brexit."

Many MPs were quick to jump on and comment on the news. Conservative MPs welcomed Mr Cummings' departure as Mr Johnson's chief adviser amid a bitter power struggle in No 10 as a good opportunity for a "reset".

Conservative MPs reacted to the events by gloating "Vote Leave has left!"

A former adviser told the Mail Online: "goodbye and good riddance."

Veteran MP Sir Roger Gale welcomed the news of Mr Cummings' imminent departure.

He said: "I would like the Prime Minister to see this as an opportunity to muck out the stable and get in the team of people he really needs and deserves behind him."

Brexit Party leader Nigel Farage tweeted: "It is well documented that I have never liked Dominic Cummings but he has backed Brexit.

"Seeing him leave Number 10 carrying a cardboard box tells me a Brexit sell-out is close."

SNP Westminster leader Ian Blackford said: "Boris Johnson's most senior advisers are abandoning the Prime Minister like rats on a sinking ship - just as the UK faces a devastating extreme Brexit, a second wave of coronavirus, and a growing Tory unemployment crisis.

"It tells you everything you need to know about this arrogant, incompetent and self-serving Tory Government that they are ditching their responsibilities - at the exact moment their reckless decisions are causing the maximum damage to people across the UK.

"If the Prime Minister had a shred of integrity he would pack his own bags and go with them. His tenure has been beset by abysmal failure, utter incompetence, and the alienation of Scotland and the other devolved nations.

"Scotland has been completely ignored by Westminster under Boris Johnson. We now face the prospect of an extreme Brexit, a Tory power grab, and the worst economic crisis in decades. It's no wonder that the growing majority of people agree that the only way to protect Scotland's interests is to become an independent country."

MP Bernard Jenkin said it was an opportunity to restore "integrity and trust" in government.

"It's an opportunity to reset how the Government operates and to emphasise some values about what we want to project as a Conservative Party in Government," Sir Bernard said earlier.

"I'm not surprised in a way that it is ending in the way it is. No prime minister can afford a single adviser to become a running story, dominating his Government's communications and crowding out the proper messages the Government wants to convey.

"Nobody is indispensable."

Senior Conservative MP Theresa Villiers said Dominic Cummings' departure from No 10 will be "a good opportunity for a fresh start".

The former environment secretary told the PA news agency: "Clearly there are concerns about the dismissive attitude sometimes shown by Lee Cain and Dominic Cummings towards people in Government and MPs on the backbenches.

"And this is an opportunity to move on from that and to have a more collaborative approach."

Labour MP and shadow Lord Chancellor David Lammy tweeted: "Donald Trump defeated and soon out of the White House.

"Vaccine breakthrough.

"Dominic Cummings carrying boxes out of Number 10.

"The crisis we are living through is catastrophic, but my god, it is good to feel hope once again."

Downing Street has declined to comment further on Dominic Cummings' plans to leave No 10.

No 10 declined to say whether he had formally handed in his notice, whether he had told Boris Johnson of his departure and whether an exit date had been set.

The Prime Minister's official spokesman said: "I don't have anything for you on that other than pointing back to Dom's words which are being reported on the BBC. I think they speak for themselves."