Who might have imagined that gender wars would get away in Quantity Ten and result in the downfall of Boris Johnson’s Brexit miracle-worker Dominic Cummings? However that appears to be the story behind the story. We’re instructed that the “posh wimmin” just like the Prime Minister’s fiancee, Carrie Symonds, mounted a palace coup in opposition to the rough-and-ready “Brexit lads”, like ex-tabloid hack Lee Cain.
Abruptly they’re historical past: Cain and unable. No extra calls by Dom Cummings for “misfits and weirdos” or missives from his “bat-cave”, no extra bending Covid guidelines with impunity. Like many equally over-promoted and unelected advisers of the previous – Tony Blair’s home Caliban Alistair Campbell involves thoughts – Dominic Cummings had “grow to be the information” and needed to go, which is becoming as a result of he invented a variety of it.
This break up can also be about politics and Covid, but it surely has so much to do with persona – which issues within the neurotic, caffeine-filled rooms of Quantity Ten. Mr Cummings antagonised nearly everybody who labored for him along with his authoritarian micro-management. His minions allegedly inflicted heinous “micro-aggressions” on feminine employees, selecting on them in conferences and accusing them of leaking to the press. The various clever girls in Boris Johnson’s internal circle – like Islingtonian ex-Guardianista Allegra Stratton, quickly to be his media spokeswoman, and his super-bright head of coverage, Munira Mirza – had been by no means going to bend to the bidding of a sexist Brexiteer.
Cummings’ crew had reportedly dubbed the Prime Minister’s fiancee “princess nut nuts” due to Ms Symonds’ alleged resemblance to a squirrel and her ardour for animal rights. Cummings had compelled out Sajid Javid’s particular adviser, Sonia Khan, beneath police escort, after accusing her of briefing journalists. That prompted the resignation of the Chancellor himself and a declare for unfair dismissal that needed to be settled by a five-figure sum to Ms Khan.
Ms Symonds – herself a former Tory Celebration director of communications – organised what could be referred to as a NOT metoo marketing campaign, initially in opposition to the abrasive head of comms, Lee Cain, a Cummings mini me. She enlisted civil servants and social gathering figures whose noses had been put out of joint by Cummings. It isn’t recognized whether or not she deployed the ways of Lysistrata in the course of the Peloponnesian warfare and threatened to withhold marital privileges, however as a classicist Boris would certainly have been conscious of the danger. Johnson’s biographer, Tom Bower, claims the Prime Minister has few male associates and tends to type shut relations with girls – typically very shut.
At any price, Mr Cain resigned within the subsequent furore, and Cummings threatened to go together with him taking all of the younger coverage geeks in practice. The Prime Minister persuaded his chief strategist to attend till the New Yr. To be honest, that’s when Mr Cummings all the time stated he anticipated to “grow to be redundant” as a result of Brexit can be finished and dusted. Although I do not suppose that is fairly what he meant. He’ll be out earlier than Christmas.
The Conor McGregor of the tradition warfare had grow to be a sufferer of it. The loathing of Cummings prolonged deep into the cupboard and the broader Conservative parliamentary social gathering. Many Tory MPs imagine the spade-calling northerner might by no means be “one among us” and lacked the social abilities to handle Whitehall mandarins. And naturally, Cummings by no means was one among them, since he by no means joined the Conservative Celebration. The previous Prime Minister, David Cameron, referred to as Cummings a “profession psychopath”.
The determine who provoked Dom’s departure, Mr Johnson’s director of communications Lee Cain, or “Caino”, is a former Solar reporter with, some say, a passing resemblance to Roland Rat. Certainly, he was suspected of being the “chatty rat” who’d leaked the current cupboard determination to enter lockdown in England. This was supposedly meant to bounce a dithering Prime Minister into going forward with a coverage with which he was solely half satisfied. Opposite to fashionable perception, Cummings has all the time been a hard-line Covid lock-downer, which makes his Barnard Fortress exploits even tougher to justify.
As director of comms, Cain had already prompted apoplexy by boycotting BBC programmes like At present and banning Stay-supporting journalists from briefings. Lee and Dom’s fingerprints had been additionally on the ludicrous thought of imposing two crusty previous reactionaries, Lord Dacre, ex of the Each day Mail, and Charles Moore of the Telegraph, as director basic and chairman of the BBC respectively. It did not occur.
Cummings solely took the job as Boris Johnson’s chief strategist due to his dedication to Brexit and his burning need to demolish the smug liberal elite that guidelines in Whitehall and the political and media institutions. His phrases for persevering with to work with Johnson after Vote Depart was that he would have absolute management over staffing and communications in Quantity Ten.
That Satan’s Cut price labored spectacularly properly – for some time. He helped a weak and inexperience Prime Minister defy a rebellious social gathering and a Stay-supporting Home of Commons – and likewise Woman Hale’s Supreme Court docket after the prorogation row. His ultra-disciplined “Get Brexit Achieved” message then helped the Tories win an 80-seat majority within the 2019 basic election.
Nevertheless it was irresponsible to provide any unelected adviser this sort of energy. Tory MPs and staffers could have appreciated Dom’s micromanagement in the course of the election marketing campaign but it surely was no option to run a authorities. A minimum of, that is what everybody now says. Cummings is being blamed for the collection of gaffes, U-turns and mishaps which have come to outline Boris Johnson’s administration in the course of the pandemic, resembling over free faculty meals, duff PPE, monitor and hint, and the timing of lockdown.
Cummings is a simple scapegoat for all this. An eccentric and divisive determine, along with his grunge and grudges, he’s simple to let go. With a vaccine coming, and the potential for a return to regular politics, it’s handy for Boris Johnson to strive to attract a line beneath this most undistinguished section of his premiership. However it’s naive to suppose that Cummings was answerable for all of the U-turns. The important thing choices had been all taken by the Prime Minister.
We’re instructed Boris Johnson will now be a extra liberal and collegiate chief. He’ll restore cupboard authorities, finish the tradition wars, exchange Brexit-mania with a give attention to local weather change. He can even take a extra constructive method to Scotland, based on stories. He realises that he must do extra than simply say no to Indyref2.
What’s going to this new “cuddly” Boris do to avoid wasting the Union? Certainly not try to like bomb Scotland – that was examined to destruction by David Cameron in 2014. Maybe he’ll ship Carrie Symonds as a particular ambassador to the court docket of Nicola Sturgeon to allow them to share tales of micro-aggressions and poisonous male behaviour. Or possibly make Baroness Ruth Davidson Scottish Secretary within the Cupboard.
Scottish voters could not have had a lot time for Dominic Cummings, however he’s not the issue right here: it’s Boris Johnson. He’s so massively unpopular that many opponents of independence at the moment are voting Sure. With Scotland as with Covid, the Prime Minister could discover that taking again management from Dom is just not as simple because it seems.