In Brief

Dominic Cummings touring top military sites ahead of security overhaul

PM’s most senior aide to play central role in review of UK’s foreign policy, defence and security

Dominic Cummings is to tour five of the UK’s most highly classified military sites in preparation for a major shake-up of the country’s defence and intelligence services.

The prime minister’s chief advisor has requested to visit the Porton Down military research labs, the Special Boat Service at Poole in Dorset and SAS quarters in Hereford, according to emails seen by the Sydney Morning Herald.

The Rapid Capabilities Office in Farnborough and the defence intelligence unit stationed at RAF Wyton are also on Cumming’s tour itinerary. And Boris Johnson’s right-hand man has already visited MI6 and MI5 in London, the Australian newspaper reports. 

Cummings’s central role in an “integrated review” of Britain’s foreign policy, defence and security policies, to be published in the autumn, prompted an invitation from the Ministry of Defence (MoD) to tour the sites, says The Times.

“The idea is to showcase some of the MoD’s flagship operations to an adviser who has complained that military procurement ‘has continued to squander billions of pounds’ and who has written in his personal blog of the potential for drone warfare,” The Guardian adds.

The leaked emails suggest that the upcoming tour “was deemed sufficiently important by Ben Wallace, the defence secretary, that he and his special adviser wanted to arrange its outline themselves before handing over to officials”, the newspaper reports.

“The secretary of state explicitly does not wish anyone to engage No. 10 or Dominic Cummings on this,” one email said. “It is for [Ben Wallace’s special adviser] and the secretary of state to engage in the first instance before delegating to officials.”

Cummings’ involvement has raised eyebrows in both military and political circles.

Liberal Democrat MP Layla Moran told Daily Mirror that “it is utterly unprecedented that the unelected chief adviser to the prime minister is visiting some the UK most secret bases and establishments.”

But Downing Street has hit back at criticism of Cummings and his “green” pass clearance, which allows the aide access to top-secret military intelligence. 

“He is the prime minister’s senior adviser,” a spokesperson said. “You would expect he regularly visits government sites and meets ministers.”

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