Boris Johnson’s former adviser has accused the government of substantial failures in the handling of Covid, saying that the public were let down when they needed the government most.
Cummings gave evidence at a marathon 7-hour select committee session on 26 May, in which the former Downing Street adviser and Vote Leave campaign director divulged all kinds of details about how the government handled the Covid pandemic throughout 2020.
Among the many allegations, admissions and accusations made by Cummings yesterday was his version of why he left Downing Street in a media storm late last year, which was widely reported at the time as a result of figures close to him not being picked for senior advisory or official roles.
Why did Dominic Cummings leave Downing Street?
Cummings played down suggestions that he was sacked by the PM over a dispute about staffing - in particular the reported pushing-out of Cummings’ ally Lee Cain from the Downing Street operation.
However, he did say that staffing disputes were part of the reason he left, and in particular Carrie Symonds’ role in hiring.
He said: “My resignation was definitely connected to the fact that the Prime Minister’s girlfriend was trying to change a whole bunch of different appointments in No 10 and appoint her friends to particular jobs.
“In particular she was trying to overturn the outcome in an official process about hiring a particular job, in a way which was not only completely unethical but was also clearly illegal.
“I thought the whole process about how the Prime Minister was behaving at that point was appalling.
“And all of that was definitely part of why I went.”
However, beyond these specific disputes, Cummings said that his growing disillusionment with the PM was the primary factor in his decision to leave, as well as his feeling that Johnson was ‘unfit for the job’.
He said: “The heart of the problem was fundamentally I regarded him as unfit for the job, and I was trying to create a structure around him to try and stop what I thought were extremely bad decisions and push other things through against his wishes, and he had the view that he was Prime Minister and I should just be doing as he wanted me to.
“And that’s obviously not sustainable for very long.”
Cummings said he told Boris Johnson in July that he would be leaving the role by December 18.
He told MPs on 26 May that, when Johnson asked him why he was leaving, he said: “This whole system is chaos, this building is chaos, you know perfectly well from having worked with me that I can get great teams together and manage them.
“But you are more frightened of me having the power to stop the chaos than you are of the chaos and this is a completely unsustainable position for us both to be in.”
Cummings then revealed that Johnson replied: “You’re right, I am more frightened of you having the power to stop the chaos than I am of the chaos – chaos isn’t that bad, chaos means that everyone has to look to me to see who is in charge.”
What does Dominic Cummings do now?
Since leaving Downing Street in November Cummings has remained relatively off-radar, only occasionally weighing in to stir the Westminster pot with his posts on social media or his blog.
What he is doing with his time these days remains more-or-less a mystery, although there are a handful of things we do know.
According to the “About” section of his blog, Cummings says he has his own company, North Wood, which he says “tries to solve problems (management, political, communication)”.
According to Companies House filings, Cummings also set up a new company earlier this year in February.Cummings is listed as a director of Siwah Limited, which is described as an ‘information technology consultancy,’ although Cummings has not spoken publicly about the exact work the firm carries out.