Dominic Cummings has broken his silence about his days at Downing Street with a devastating critique about the prime minister’s ”possibly illegal” behaviour in Number 10.
Among the astonishing claims made by Boris Johnson’s ex-chief advisor are that Johnson asked him if it was possible to quash an inquiry into leaks as it would end up causing the PM “very serious problems” with his 33-year-old fiancée Carrie Symonds.
Perhaps even more damagingly, Cummings claims on his blog that the 56-year-old’s prime minister’s plan for refurbishing the Downing Street flat – and getting a Tory party donor to secretly pay for it – was “unethical, foolish, possibly illegal and almost certainly broke the rules on proper disclosure of political donations if conducted in the way he intended”.
Cummings said that after pointing this out, the “PM stopped speaking to me about this matter in 2020”.
The third hit from the former chief-advisor sees him call for an urgent parliamentary inquiry into Johnson’s handling of the pandemic and lockdown.
“And yes, he’d give evidence under oath”, says editor of the Spectator and Telegraph columnist, Fraser Nelson who is in no doubt that “Cummings is out to get Johnson”.
‘A stash of private messages’
Writing in the Telegraph, Nelson says that Cummings has made it “clear that he’s sitting on plenty more ammunition” in the form of “a stash of private messages” revealing how Johnson operates, largely it seems through “direct agreements via text message” in order “to get things done quickly” .
It is speculated that the language used by the PM in his text conversations will soon become a source of (at the very least) embarrassment for Johnson, should they be leaked. It is also worth remembering that Cummings’ wife, Mary Wakefield, is the commissioning editor for the Spectator, which may mean Nelson’s knowledge of Cummings’ arsenal of stashed private messages, ready to deploy against the PM, is from a credible source.
Blaming Cummings for the leaked texts between Johnson and Sir James Dyson, sparked the so called “mad-monk” into action with this first public utterance since he was forced out of Downing Street in November. Which was many months after his (in)famous trip to Barnard Castle. That saw Johnson endure considerable flak for standing by the man credited with securing 2019’s historic election win, Johnson’s 80-strong majority, as well as Brexit.
Chatty rat and the lie machine
Witheringly, Cummings – who flat out denies being the “chatty rat” source of the leaks of the PM’s texts with Dyson, and also the crown prince of Saudi Arabia Mohammad Bin Salman – wrote: “It is sad to see the PM and his office fall so far below the standards of competence and integrity the country deserves.”
Sad, but entirely inevitable, given Downing Street has been turned into a “lie machine”, according to none other than the former Tory attorney general Dominic Grieve, who called Johnson a “vaccum of integrity”.
Grieve accused the PM of leading a “cronyistic cabal” at the heart of government, telling Saturday’s BBC Radio 4 Today programme: “There’s been a constant wriggling about the source of the money for this refurbishment [of the Downing Street flat] and that’s just one illustration of the chaos that Mr Johnson seems to bring in his wake.
“And the reason for that is because he is a vacuum of integrity, and this has been apparent for a very long time: apparent to my colleagues who I regret to say elected him or caused him to be elected as leader of the Conservative Party.”
Can the ‘greased piglet’ wriggle free once again?
Grieve’s colleagues have a long and detailed history of abandoning leaders once their popularity wanes and they become an election liability. Tories are famous for their ruthlessness and absence of sentiment so Johnson, even with such a commanding majority, could yet be toppled if the allegations start to stick and his undoubted electoral gold proves to be plated and tarnishes his party.
It is clear he will not go of his own accord and that he is fully intending being occupant of Number 10 for a considerable length of time given the considerable sum of money – £58,000 to be precise – that Downing Street said Johnson has himself spent on decorating the flat at No 11.
The Guardian points out though, that it remains unclear if the PM paid the bill directly with his own money or paid it via a loan from his party or a donor.
Questions continue to mount as allegations of sleaze, cronyisim and corruption against the Johnson government grow. And all with less than two weeks before the crucial elections in Scotland, Wales and England which will help determine whether the “greased piglet” will manage to wriggle his way free once again and continue living at the refurbished Downing Street flat.