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Dominic Cummings is unlikely to leave Downing Street within the next few months because his ability to “get shit done” is too valuable to Boris Johnson, a former Vote Leave ally of the aide has said.
Bookies last week slashed the odds of Cummings leaving or getting sacked by March 31 to just 3/1 and Tory MPs have voiced concerns about the impact of the advisor.
But former special adviser James Starkie, who worked with Cummings during the 2016 referendum, told HuffPost UK’s Commons People podcast that Johnson will not want to lose an aide who has delivered so much.
Asked about suggestions Cummings could be gone within months, Starkie told Commons People: “I would be shocked if that happened.
“The prime minister himself has done a great job but when he came in - remember how many times you heard ‘nobody is going to change this (Brexit) deal’, how many times did you hear that?
“Well, the deal got changed.”
He went on: “Then it was getting an election - everyone said ‘I don’t know if you can get an election through this parliament’, we got an election.
“Then it’s like ‘well how close will this election be’ - he’s got a majority of 80.
“Now if I’m the prime minister, I don’t know him, met him a couple of times, don’t know him well, but I’m going to look at this and think all these people are saying all these things about this guy (Cummings) but if I look back over the last... six months, this guy seems to get shit done.
“So if I’m running a department or the country as the prime minister is, I want someone like that about.
“Whatever you think, it’s undeniable - Vote Leave campaign, campaign before that - that Dom gets shit done.”
Cummings is also playing a useful role as a lightning rod, attracting attention and criticism so the PM and his ministers can get on with their job, Starkie suggested.
And this is a role the former Vote Leave boss also performed during the 2016 referendum, telling staff in his victory speech that “all I did was keep people off your backs”.
“That’s how he sees his job,” Starkie said.
“He’s quite happy if (the media) or whoever it is are attacking him, he can deal with it.
“And it lets the PM or whoever else, or the home secretary, get on with doing their jobs.
“I haven’t spoken to him recently about anything like that by my experience of him, certainly on Vote Leave in particular when I worked closest with him, was that he definitely saw part of his role as just letting you get on with what you were doing.”
He added: “I don’t know this but I would suspect, it’s partly an element of ‘oh there’s a bad story, just say I did it’.”