Dominic Cummings, the former chief adviser to the UK Prime Minister, who left No 10 in November last year and has since branded the government of Boris Johnson a branch of the “entertainment industry”, saying it will remain so until the official steps down, opened up on his time at Downing Street in an interview with The Spectator.
Dominic Cummings, former chief adviser to Boris Johnson, has said that he never wanted a career in Westminster, as he didn’t “like the people and they don’t like me”.
In an interview with The Spectator, where his wife Mary Wakefield, daughter of an English baronet, works as Commissioning Editor, he revealed that when he informed the UK Prime Minister he planned to quit Downing Street on 18 December it had felt “like a natural end”.
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Cummings said his relationship with the PM changed after the Conservative Party leader won a massive majority at the general election in December 2019, adding:
“The entire situation was completely transformed.”
The political strategist, who worked for Johnson for more than a year, acknowledged that his departure was hastened to November when Carrie Symonds, then-fiancée, now wife of the Prime Minister, started plotting to ditch his allies from No. 10.
“I walked out. And then she was terrified that Boris would reverse-ferret so she deliberately blew everything up in the media to cause maximum carnage. So then all relations between us were severed and I haven’t spoken to him since,” said Cummings.
The PM’s ex-adviser who stepped down “to clear the air” following allegations that he violated government rules on the coronavirus and amid reports of a power tussle on Downing Street, says he had a bad impression of Symonds from their earliest meeting.
“I thought she was a wrong ‘un from the day I first met her back in 2016 when she was a press officer of some kind,” he said in the interview.
Cummings offered a few glimpses into his interactions with Johnson in the few final days before he walked out.
“So when Boris and I came to the break-up in the final few days, we sat on the sofa and he started reading out questions from his phone and I said, ‘Have you lost your mind? Your crazy girlfriend is sitting upstairs texting you questions?’
According to Cummings, Johnson responded:
“Oh my God, you’re right, she’s driving me crackers. We’ve got to find her a job with lots of foreign travel. Could we get the Cabinet Secretary to give her a job on COP26, travelling round with Kate Middleton?”
Dominic Cummings suggested that Boris Johnson had been “trapped”.
“That’s the weird thing: part of his brain knows that his girlfriend is crackers, but he’s also trapped… Well, you know this crazy thing happens with people, they just get trapped by crazy girlfriends. It’s not the first time it’s happened.”
‘Unfit for the Job’
Dominic Cummings attempted to explain why he agreed to work for Boris Johnson if he thought him poorly equipped for office. At an extraordinary evidence session to MPs at Westminster on 26 May Johnson was portrayed by Cummings as making constant U-turns, “like a shopping trolley smashing from one side of the aisle to the other” and accused of being “unfit for the job”.
Boris Johnson had come to his house in July 2019, after taking over from former PM Theresa May, “begging him” to work at No. 10 and ostensibly help push Brexit through.
Cummings said that the alternative had been former Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn and a second Brexit referendum, which he believed could result in violence. “MPs wouldn’t be able to campaign safely outside the M25 without armed guards,” he said.
The PM’s former chief adviser admitted he and Johnson had not spoken since his departure from Downing Street.
The strategist, who has since lobbed a series of attacks on the prime minister and the government, also claimed that Boris Johnson offered him a peerage when he left No 10.
Asked if there was any chance he might have become ‘Lord Cummings of Barnard Castle’, the author of a subscription-only Substack blog, which has more than 1,500 subscribers, said:
“No! He said it but then he almost immediately started laughing and realised that that was not exactly the sort of thing that would buy me off.”
Cummings and his controversial travels across the country to Barnard Castle during the strictest phase of coronavirus lockdown last year had generated a lot of backlash.
Dominic Cummings was asked to weigh in on the scandal that forced Matt Hancock to stand down as health secretary. Leaked CCTV footage had revealed caught Hancock kissing an aide in his office.
“Well, obviously it would have been better if Boris had fired him last May when I told him to. But if it ends with a sex scandal, fine by me,” said the ex-adviser. Cummings, who had earlier published expletive-laden messages, apparently from Boris Johnson, in which the PM calls the health secretary “hopeless” over the handling of the COVID-19 pandemic, added:
“I suspect that all his officials knew what was happening, and they knew that what I said about him was true, and someone in his private office will also have had access to CCTV and thought: Ah, we’ll get rid of that lying b******.”
Downing Street sources cited by the Daily Mail denied the allegations made by Dominic Cummings. The claims were branded “untrue” and “risible, like much of Dom’s recent output”, according to a No 10 source cited by the outlet.