Dominic Cummings Confirms He'll Quit Downing Street By End Of Year

Departure of Boris Johnson’s top adviser comes amid power struggle at No.10.

Boris Johnson’s top adviser Dominic Cummings is to leave Downing Street by the end of the year.

The man seen as the most powerful figure in No 10 told the BBC’s political editor Laura Kuenssberg he was making himself “redundant” as he had previously suggested.

Cummings told the BBC that “rumours of me threatening to resign are invented” after speculation that he would follow communications director Lee Cain in leaving Number 10.

However, he said that his “position hasn’t changed since my January blog” when he wrote that he hoped to make himself “largely redundant” by the end of 2020.

The BBC also quoted a Downing Street source as saying Cummings would be “out of government” by Christmas.

It came amid a bitter power struggle in No 10.

Lee Cain’s resignation as director of communications meant the PM was having to perform a shake-up of his top team during the second national lockdown in England and with post-Brexit trade negotiations growing ever closer to the deadline.

He had been offered the post of chief of staff but a backlash among Tories and Johnson’s inner circle ultimately led him on Wednesday to announce his departure from No 10 rather than a promotion.

Cummings, a close political ally of the departing communications chief having worked together since the Brexit campaign, was said to be unhappy with the way his friend had been treated.

Earlier in the night, The Telegraph reported an “associate” of Cain as saying the communication chief’s departure was the “beginning of the end for Dom”.

“Lee is the person who has been covering Dom’s flank 24 hours a day and he will soon be gone,” the source told the paper.

THE BLOG

The blog post Cummings refers to is not as clear about his future as he suggests.

Johnson’s key adviser opened 2020 by suggesting he wanted to be “largely redundant” by the end of it.

He made the point at the same time as he called for “weirdos” to apply for jobs in Downing Street and warned of “profound problems” in government decision-making.

The post, running to nearly 3,000 words, had all the appearance of a job advert as the former Vote Leave director said “we’re hiring data scientists, project managers, policy experts, assorted weirdos” and encouraged them to send a CV to a Gmail address.

Cummings wrote: “We want to improve performance and make me much less important – and within a year largely redundant.

“At the moment I have to make decisions well outside what Charlie Munger calls my ‘circle of competence’ and we do not have the sort of expertise supporting the PM and ministers that is needed.

“This must change fast so we can properly serve the public.”

Conservative MPs have urged Johnson to use events to reshape the team inside Downing Street and reconnect with the parliamentary party, some of whom feel he has been “lost” to advisers over the past year.

Sir Charles Walker, vice chairman of the 1922 Committee, told BBC Two’s Newsnight: “If Boris, the prime minister, gets the chief of staff position right – he gets the right person in that position – he will plant his standard firmly back in the middle of the Conservative parliamentary party.

“We feel we’ve lost him for the last year. We want him back – he belongs to us, he doesn’t belong to the advisers, he belongs to the parliamentary party that elected him and he got elected at the last general election.”

In his resignation statement, Cain confirmed he had been offered a promotion to the key position of the prime minister’s chief of staff.

The move – which would have meant he was one of just a handful of people in No 10 with direct one-to-one access to Johnson – was seen as entrenching the grip of the Vote Leave faction on the Downing Street operation.

However it ran into immediate resistance, with Johnson’s fiancee, Carrie Symonds – who has clashed in the past with Cummings – reportedly strongly opposed to the appointment.

Symonds is a former Tory press chief who has served as a special adviser in previous governments.

Allegra Stratton, the former broadcaster brought in to host televised No 10 news conferences from next year, was also said to have objected to the appointment.