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18th May 2022

Boris Johnson ended WFH because it was destroying newspaper sales, Dominic Cummings claims

Ava Evans

Dominic Cummings claims the WFH ‘farce’ is being influenced by big business

Boris Johnson’s former advisor has claimed the government is facing mounting pressure from newspapers and big business to get people back into the office.

Writing on Twitter Dominic Cummings said the working from home “farce” was being driven by newspaper proprietors and editors who had the ear of the Prime Minister.

The PM gets “repeated calls from newspaper proprietors” wrote Cummings. “‘Its killing us,” he alleges they say, “tell us what you want in return but you must get commuters back'”.

Last week, Cummings claimed a group of newspapers had negotiated “direct bungs to themselves” during private conversations with the PM. “No officials on calls,” he wrote, “then he told officials to send the £– [sic] dressed up as ‘covid relief'”.

Since the start of the pandemic, Johnson’s Government has been quietly gifting a special Covid subsidy to several big newspapers. The scheme was originally set to run for three months, but is now approaching the two-year mark.

It’s not known how much has been spent in total, only that the subsidy was meant to be £35 million for the first three months.

Johnson has led criticism in recent days over the country’s desire to continue working from home.

Speaking to the Daily Mail over the weekend, the Prime Minister urged the country to get back the office, claiming workers are “more productive, more energetic, more full of ideas” when with colleagues.

The PM said: “My experience of working from home is you spend an awful lot of time making another cup of coffee and then, you know, getting up, walking very slowly to the fridge, hacking off a small piece of cheese, then walking very slowly back to your laptop and then forgetting what it was you’re doing.

“I believe in the workplace environment. And I think that will help to drive up productivity, it will get our city centres moving in the weekdays and it will be good for mass transit. And a lot of businesses that have been having a tough time will benefit from that.”

While other European workers have returned to the office since Coronavirus restrictions eased, in places like the US and the UK remote working is here to stay.

New figures published by WFH Research show British workers lead the world in working from home, with nearly quarter saying they would rather quit or find a new job rather than go back to the office.

Last month, Cabinet minister Jacob Rees-Mogg was described as “condescending” after leaving notes on civil servants’ desks in an effort to stop them working from home.

As part of a drive to get civil servants back into the office, Mogg left notes reading “sorry we missed you” on the desks of people assumed to be working from home.

A government spokesperson said “We are incredibly grateful to the civil service for the outstanding job they do in delivering for the public.

“But when people across the country are facing huge living costs, the public rightly expect their government to lead by example and to run as efficiently as possible. That’s why the PM has tasked the Cabinet to report back with a plan for returning the civil service to its 2016 levels over the next three years.

“As a responsible public sector employer it’s important that the government looks inwards to maximise efficiency and deliver a workforce which is leaner and better equipped to deliver on the issues that really matter to people.”

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