After a week of infighting in Downing Street which saw the resignation of Director of Communications Lee Cain and senior aide Dominic Cummings, both men have left the building for what government aides believe will be the last time. Although Cain and Cummings intended to continue their work until mid December, the suggestion is that they will do this working from home.
Johnson held a meeting with the pair this evening where he discussed their departures. While they decided it was best for them to work remotely until they left, one person aware of the discussion say it was amicable – with the Prime Minister paying tribute to them both for their work. However, the Financial Times reports that it was rather unamicable – with Johnson accusing the pair of briefing against his partner Carrie Symonds.
Either way, this means that the crunch week of negotiations for Brexit will take place without Cummings present in Downing Street. Nigel Farage has already taken to social media to suggest ‘a Brexit sell-out is close’.
It comes as Johnson’s long standing aide Eddie Lister has been appointed as interim Chief of Staff while they work out who to appoint. Names in the frame include former Chancellor Sajid Javid, Michael Gove’s long time adviser Henry Newman and policy chief Munira Mirza.
This week marks the end of an era in 10 Downing Street and the beginning of a new chapter for Johnson’s government. We know what it’s not: a Vote Leave government. But when it comes to what it is, only time will tell. The expectation among some in government is that in the new year Johnson will pivot to a more environmental agenda and adopt a less combative approach when it comes to both the media and British institutions. Who he appoints as Chief of Staff ought to give a clear indicator of the direction the government is moving in.<//>
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