Johnson and Cummings’ relationship ‘fell off a cliff’ as MPs ask for ‘reset’


Dominic Cummings left Downing Street after his relationship with the Prime Minister "fell off a cliff", according to a former Cabinet minister.

Mr Cummings left his role after a power struggle that has rocked the administration, amid claims he had briefed against Boris Johnson and his fiancee Carrie Symonds.

Senior Tory MPs have now called on the Prime Minister to use his departure to "reset the Government" following complaints the party and Parliament were not being listened to during Mr Cummings' time as senior adviser.

It comes after the Daily Telegraph reported Mr Cummings was said to have told colleagues Mr Johnson was "indecisive" and that he and director of communications Lee Cain, who has also announced his resignation, relied on Cabinet Office minister Michael Gove for clarity.

According to the Daily Mail, tensions were raised further when the Prime Minister was shown "hostile texts" briefing against Miss Symonds, which had been forwarded to her.

Former Brexit secretary David Davis told BBC Breakfast on Saturday many within No 10 had "turned on" Mr Cummings.

He said: "It is said... people ranging from Allegra (Stratton) – the new spokesman for the Prime Minister – right through to his (Mr Johnson's) fiancee, Carrie, turned against him.

"The relationship with the Prime Minister fell off a cliff. And once that's gone, it's gone."

Mr Davis, who was allegedly described as "thick as mince" and "lazy as a toad" by Mr Cummings when in the Cabinet in 2017, also branded the adviser's style "confrontational" but added the PM had "relied on him" and "there are things he (Mr Cummings) was right about".

There was no sign of Mr Cummings emerging from his north London home on Saturday morning, but his wife Mary Wakefield came outside and told reporters he "would not come out" in the rainy weather.

The BBC reported Mr Cummings' departure had been brought forward given the "upset in the team" and that the PM wanted to "clear the air and move on".

On what could change, Mr Davis told BBC Breakfast: "Well the first thing is there are going to be some new staff in Number 10. He's going to need a new chief of staff who has got to be fiercely efficient but not fiercely political. He's got to find someone who doesn't have their own agenda.

"Secondly, lots of my colleagues in Parliament are hoping for a new relationship with Parliament. More openness, more interaction with Parliament."

Theresa May's ex-chief of staff, Lord Gavin Barwell, also said the departure could lead to more harmonious relations between the Prime Minister and Tory MPs.

Referring to Mr Johnson, Lord Barwell told BBC Radio 4's Today programme: "It feels to me that there's an opportunity here for him to get his Downing Street operation more harmonious and more effective.

"To rebuild relations with Conservative MPs, the parliamentary party.

"And, perhaps, to set a less confrontational and more unifying tone, that is maybe more in tune with his natural instincts."

Dominic Cummings leaves 10 Downing Street on Friday
Dominic Cummings leaves 10 Downing Street on Friday

Some media reports have said Mr Cummings, who left No 10 on Friday carrying a large box, had quit his post with immediate effect.

The PA news agency understands he and Mr Cain will still be employed until the middle of next month, with other reports suggesting Mr Cummings will work from home on projects such as mass testing.

Sir Edward Lister was announced as the interim chief of staff pending a permanent appointment.

The dramatic events have come as Brexit heads to a crucial phase next week, as London seeks a trade deal with Brussels before the end of the transition period on December 31.

The Prime Minister's official spokesman, James Slack, who will replace Mr Cain in the new year, insisted Mr Johnson was not being distracted by the row.

"What the Prime Minister and the Government are focused upon is taking every possible step to get this country through the coronavirus pandemic," he said.