In Brief

Life under Dom: Cummings’ departure loosens tongues at No. 10

Divisive aide’s exit has unleashed deluge of negative briefings to the press

Having held on to his job following his much-criticised journey to Durham during the last nationwide lockdown, Dominic Cummings has finally departed No. 10 following the resignation of close ally Lee Cain.

Cummings is leaving as the UK continues talks with the EU to reach a deal for future trade following Brexit, which he helped to deliver, and midway through his pledged shake-up of Whitehall and revamp Downing Street operations.

But what was life like at No. 10 during his reign? “Sycophants imitated him and he imported a gang of yes men (and they were mostly men) to act as his lieutenants on the public payroll,” a fellow aide told Politico’s London Playbook.

“These were a collection of strange people with no social skills, who alienated officials and colleagues and contributed nothing to government. We wondered what they did all day.”

Another insider told Politico that Cummings would often “go dark”, meaning that he was impossible to reach for “long periods of time” at crucial moments.

“Most decision-making simply became a matter of guessing what Dom would do - an odd way of forcing everyone to be brainwashed into the mind of Dom,” the aide said. 

“He was entirely uninterested in 99% of issues or crises, leaving the No. 10 staff leaderless.”

Not everybody is celebrating Cummings’ departure though. Some northern Tory MPs are worried that “the Downing Street faction that ousted Cummings and Cain is too London-centric in its worldview”, The Times says.

On the other hand, few will miss Cummings’ penchant for flamboyant public appearances. 

After he was pictured leaving Downing Street through the front door after quitting on Friday, a senior No. 10 official told the Financial Times’ Whitehall correspondent Sebastian Payne: “That’s the last time he walks down the road like Kim Kardashian, preening for the cameras like the spoilt lord of Barnard Castle.

“In future advisers will go round the back and let the elected prime minister use the front door.”

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