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'He'll be missed': Dominic Cummings to leave role as PM's chief adviser by end of the year

Sky News logo Sky News 13/11/2020 Greg Heffer, political reporter
a man wearing glasses talking on a cell phone: Mr Cummings worked with Mr Johnson as part of the Vote Leave campaign © Imagebridge Mr Cummings worked with Mr Johnson as part of the Vote Leave campaign

Dominic Cummings is to leave his role as the prime minister's chief adviser by the end of the year.

A Downing Street source said on Thursday night the controversial aide will exit Number 10, having been one of Boris Johnson's first appointments when he became PM last July.

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps confirmed the news the next morning, saying the move will coincide with the post-Brexit transition period ending on 31 December 2020.

"He'll be missed... but advisers come and go," the cabinet minister told Sky News.

In this handout photo provided by UK Parliament, Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson speaks during Prime Minister's Questions in the House of Commons in London, Wednesday, Nov. 11, 2020. (Jessica Taylor/UK Parliament via AP) © ASSOCIATED PRESS In this handout photo provided by UK Parliament, Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson speaks during Prime Minister's Questions in the House of Commons in London, Wednesday, Nov. 11, 2020. (Jessica Taylor/UK Parliament via AP)

"In any government, you require people who are going to shake things up and come up with ideas, and he's actually been that person."

In a blog post in January, Mr Cummings revealed he planned to leave his role by the end of the year, saying he hoped to make himself "largely redundant" by then.

But news of his expected departure comes after a bitter power struggle behind the scenes in Downing Street - something that is likely to have hastened his decision.

The row came to light with the resignation of his close ally Lee Cain as the prime minister's director of communications.

a man standing in front of a brick building: The news comes after the resignation of his close ally Lee Cain as the prime minister's director of communications © PA The news comes after the resignation of his close ally Lee Cain as the prime minister's director of communications

Mr Cummings and Mr Cain both worked with Mr Johnson as part of the Vote Leave campaign during the 2016 EU referendum.

They are widely regarded to have since led a Vote Leave faction of colleagues in Number 10 and other parts of government.

But their departures follow the appointment of former journalist Allegra Stratton as Downing Street's new TV spokeswoman, which was said to have been opposed by Mr Cain.


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The infighting spilling into the open has sparked criticism from Conservative MPs.

LONDON, ENGLAND - NOVEMBER 10: Secretary of State for Transport, Grant Shapps, arrives at Downing Street on November 10, 2020 in London, England. (Photo by Leon Neal/Getty Images) © 2020 Getty Images LONDON, ENGLAND - NOVEMBER 10: Secretary of State for Transport, Grant Shapps, arrives at Downing Street on November 10, 2020 in London, England. (Photo by Leon Neal/Getty Images)

Tory backbencher Sir Roger Gale said: "The government, and Downing Street particularly, should be concentrating all of its efforts on the pandemic and on the end game of Brexit, and frankly this is a distraction that cannot and should not be allowed to take place and the prime minister has got to get a grip on it."

And senior Tory MP Tobias Ellwood told Sky News: "Let's move a little bit away from Eastenders and more to the West Wing."

Mr Shapps tried to do so by dismissing Mr Cummings' departure, saying "things move on" and that in the "real world" other issues like a coronavirus vaccine are "vastly more important".

When Sky News asked him if imported vaccines could be hindered by a no trade deal divorce with the EU, which could threaten delays in supply chains at the border, Mr Shapps vowed: "We'll make sure we have those."

LONDON, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 25:  MP Tobias Ellwood walking through Westminster on his way to the Houses of Parliament on September 25, 2019 in London, England. Yesterday the Supreme Court ruled that the Government's prorogation of Parliament was unlawful. Parliament will re-convene this morning at 11.30am cutting short both the Labour Conference and the Prime Minister's trip to the United Nations General Assembly. (Photo by Chris J Ratcliffe/Getty Images) © 2019 Getty Images LONDON, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 25: MP Tobias Ellwood walking through Westminster on his way to the Houses of Parliament on September 25, 2019 in London, England. Yesterday the Supreme Court ruled that the Government's prorogation of Parliament was unlawful. Parliament will re-convene this morning at 11.30am cutting short both the Labour Conference and the Prime Minister's trip to the United Nations General Assembly. (Photo by Chris J Ratcliffe/Getty Images)

The prime minister's official spokesman James Slack, who will replace Mr Cain when he departs in the new year, has also insisted Mr Johnson is not being distracted from the national crisis by the bitter row.

"You've seen from the prime minister this week that he's absolutely focused on taking all the steps that are required to equip the country to beat coronavirus," he said.

Mr Cummings - once reportedly described by former prime minister David Cameron as a "career psychopath" - is a former Conservative Party director of strategy and ex-aide to senior cabinet minister Michael Gove.

He was credited as one of the most influential figures behind Vote Leave's success under its "take back control" slogan.

a close up of a man: Mr Cummings helped secure last year's general election victory for the Conservative Party © NetStorage Mr Cummings helped secure last year's general election victory for the Conservative Party

As part of Mr Johnson's top team, Mr Cummings helped secure last year's thumping general election victory for the Conservative Party.

He was said to have subsequently focused on projects such as setting up an advanced defence projects research agency and reforming government procurement processes.

Mr Cummings gained national notoriety this year when he was accused of breaching lockdown rules by making a trip from London to the North East, at a time when he feared he could have contracted coronavirus.

He also admitted to having driven to Barnard Castle as a means of testing his eyesight.

Despite huge pressure for Mr Johnson to sack his senior aide, the prime minister stood by Mr Cummings.

During his time in Number 10, Mr Cummings called for "misfits and weirdos" to apply for jobs in Downing Street.

One of those subsequently employed was soon forced to resign following the emergence of past online comments.

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