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23rd Apr 2021

Dominic Cummings wages war on Boris Johnson

Dominic Cummings goes to war with Boris Johnson after Number 10 accused him of being the 'chatty rat' leak

Nadine Batchelor-Hunt

Dominic Cummings goes to war with Boris Johnson after Number 10 accused him of being the ‘chatty rat’ leak

In a nuclear post on his blog, Dominic Cummings detonated a dirty bomb in Downing Street.

Cummings, until several months ago, was Johnson’s political spin doctor and consigliere, after working alongside him on the Vote Leave campaign.

He was largely credited as the mastermind behind many of Johnson’s most controversial political decisions, such as the unlawful prorogation of parliament, making him fiercely unpopular with politicians on both sides of the house.

His now infamous trip to Barnard Castle, which Johnson staunchly defended Cummings over, put him front and centre of the political stage last year.

In his blog post, Cummings said “it is sad to see the PM and his office fall so far below the standards of competence and integrity the country deserves.”

Among the most explosive claims in the post, are accusations that Johnson tried to bury an inquiry because he did not want it to make his fiancée, Carrie Symonds, unhappy because it would implicate her “best friend” Harry Newman.

The row centres around the government becoming frustrated with leaks during the beginning of the pandemic last year, where plans for its Covid-19 strategy were repeatedly made available to the press, without the permission of the prime minister, before they were properly publicly announced.

“[The prime minister] said to me afterwards, ‘If Newman is confirmed as the leaker then I will have to fire him, and this will cause me very serious problems with Carrie as they’re best friends … [pause] perhaps we could get the Cabinet Secretary to stop the leak inquiry?”

Cummings claims he rebuffed the prime ministers request, telling him it was “mad” and “totally unethical.”

“I told him that he could not possibly cancel an inquiry about a leak that affected millions of people, just because it might implicate his girlfriend’s friends,” he writes.

“I refused to try to persuade the Cabinet Secretary to stop the inquiry and instead I encouraged the Cabinet Secretary to conduct the inquiry without any concern for political ramifications.

“I told the Cabinet Secretary that I would support him regardless of where the inquiry led.

“I warned some officials that the PM was thinking about cancelling the inquiry. They would give evidence to this effect under oath to any inquiry.”

Cummings goes on to claim that these events contributed to his dramatic exit from Number 10 by December 2020.

Cummings also lambasted the prime minister in relation to renovating his flat in Downing Street, even suggesting Johnson’s behaviour could have been “illegal” – and says that he would be happy to “tell the Cabinet Secretary or the Electoral Commission what I know concerning this matter.”

“The Prime Minister’s [director of communications] has also made accusations regarding me and leaks concerning the PM’s renovation of his flat,” he writes.

“The PM stopped speaking to me about this matter in 2020 as I told him I thought his plans to have donors secretly pay for the renovation were unethical, foolish, possibly illegal and almost certainly broke the rules on proper disclosure of political donations if conducted in the way he intended.”

The blog post ends with a bang, in which Cummings says he’d be happy to discuss the contents of his blog post, and more, with Parliament – calling for a parliamentary inquiry.

“The proper way for such issues to be handled is via an urgent Parliamentary inquiry into the government’s conduct over the covid crisis which ought to take evidence from all key players under oath and have access to documents,” says Cummings.

“Issues concerning covid and/or the PM’s conduct should not be handled as No 10 has handled them over the past 24 hours.

“I will cooperate fully with any such inquiry and am happy to give evidence under oath.

“I am happy for No 10 to publish every email I received and sent July 2019-November 2020 (with no exceptions other than, obviously, some national security / intelligence issues).”

Cummings appeared before the Health and Social Care Committee and Science and Technology Committee last month, to discuss some of his work while at Number 10.

During the meeting, he scorned the government’s preparedness for the pandemic – declaring the department of health’s PPE situation a “smoking ruin” and said its initial approach to the pandemic was “absolute total disaster.”

At the end of his appearance, he told MPs that he would be happy to return to discuss his time in government further.