Dominic Cummings, the most powerful advisor to Prime Minister Boris Johnson and the divisive figure behind the 2016 campaign for Britain to leave the European Union, has left his job with immediate effect after a power struggle in the Prime Minister’s office, according to British media reports.
Cummings, who was expected to stay in his post until the end of the year, left 10 Downing Street, the Prime Minister’s office, on Friday, carrying a box of his belongings.
Media such as Sky News and the BBC reported that he would no longer report for the service.
The Guardian and Financial Times newspapers said Johnson had ordered Cummings to leave amid allegations he made against him and his fiancée Carrie Symonds, while The Times reported sources that Cummings had “decided to leave early”.
Johnson’s Conservative administration was embroiled in a power struggle as it struggled to contain Europe’s deadliest COVID-19 outbreak, forge a relationship with U.S. President-elect Joe Biden, and reach a last-minute Brexit trade deal.
Prior to his abrupt departure, Cummings had reiterated comments made in January that he would be “largely obsolete” within a year, which coincides with the final end of UK membership.
Cummings can bring the country to its knees by bolstering the herd’s immunity, outsourcing our bad response at billions’ expense, lifting the ban itself, etc. But as soon as he says something bad about the prime minister’s fiancée he must leave immediately
That says as much about the PM as it does about him https://t.co/nFbqJss7sb
– Nazir Afzal (@nazirafzal) November 13, 2020
So Boris Johnson didn’t fire Dominic Cummings for breaking lockdown rules, shattering public trust and costing many lives.
But he fired him for researching his fiancée. #priorities pic.twitter.com/Nw3mumtPgl
– Piers Morgan (@piersmorgan) November 13, 2020
Critics said the announcement marked the end of Arch Brexiteer’s political clout.
“I think Dom is a broken blush now as far as Westminster is concerned,” said a conservative lawmaker, using Cummings’ nickname, speaking to Reuters on condition of anonymity.
Transportation Secretary Grant Shapps told Sky News Friday that the Downing Street aide was “missing”.
“In any government you need people to mess things up and come up with ideas. He was actually that person.”
Johnson named Cummings of Oxford as his chief adviser when he took power in July 2019.
Cummings, a 48-year-old bald man with an unconventional sense of dress and a combative manner, despised the political establishment and traditional elites despite being married to a baronet’s daughter.
Unelected bureaucrats. Unrealistic ideologues …
There is so much irony in the Cummings story.
But one thing is certain … the legacy called Brexit is damage that unfortunately cannot be undone for years … pic.twitter.com/pIb8fE2Dk3
– Guy Verhofstadt (@guyverhofstadt) November 13, 2020
His control style and frequent clashes with colleagues created tension within the prime minister’s inner circle, and the power struggle openly became the new chief of staff earlier this week with the resignation of Johnson’s communications director Lee Cain, a close ally of Cummings who had been named a tipster .
The top aide caused public anger earlier this year after it was revealed he had driven 418 km north to his childhood home in Durham during the coronavirus lockdown, apparently in violation of strict regulations he helped shape.
Cummings, who was experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 at the time and whose wife contracted the virus, claimed the trip was necessary to ensure he had childcare facilities for their young son.
Dominic Cummings aroused public anger after driving his family hundreds of miles north during the lockdown, apparently breaking strict rules that he helped draft [File: Jonathan Brady/Pool via AFP]Despite the backlash, he refused to resign and Johnson stood by him.
The political advisor first came to the fore in the 2016 Brexit referendum when he played a key role in the holiday campaign’s surprise win. Last year he helped Johnson win the general election by the largest majority his party had seen since 1987.
Cummings is viewed by allies and enemies as a ruthless strategist who cares little about the conventions of traditional British politics. Former Prime Minister David Cameron described him as a “career psychopath”.
His departure is an opportunity for Johnson to reset politics and rebuild his relationship with his own MPs at a time when the government is under increasing pressure to deal with COVID-19, which killed more than 50,000 people in the UK .
Bernard Jenkin, a seasoned Conservative politician, said Cummings’ exit was an opportunity to restore “respect, integrity and trust” between MPs and Downing Street that “have been missing in recent months”.