UK PM’s controversial top aide ‘to quit later this year’

LONDON (AFP) – Dominic Cummings, the controversial mastermind of the 2016 campaign for Britain to leave the European Union (EU), will quit as Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s top aide once Brexit is completed later this year, reports said yesterday.

Johnson’s chief advisor, a divisive figure who carved out a uniquely powerful role in government, told the BBC on Thursday recent speculation that he was threatening to resign were “invented”.

But amid a power struggle within Downing Street that has spilled into public view this week, Cummings reiterated comments made in a blogpost in January that he would make himself “largely redundant” within a year.

“My position has not changed since my January blog,” Cummings told the broadcaster, which quoted a senior government source as saying he would leave his job by December.

Cummings’ departure then would coincide with the end of the Brexit transition period, when Britain embarks on life outside of EU rules and regulations on January 1.

Britain’s Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s senior aid Dominic Cummings leaves his house in London. PHOTO: AP

“He will be missed but then again, we’ll be moving into a different phase,” Transport Secretary Grant Shapps told Sky News yesterday.

“In any government you require people who are going to shake things up and come along with ideas, he has actually been that person.”

Cummings, an enigmatic figure with an unconventional dress style and combative approach to politics, was appointed chief advisor by Johnson when he took power in July 2019.

He helped to secure a thumping election victory last December, but his reportedly controlling style and frequent clashes with colleagues are said to have led to persistent tensions.

He courted damaging controversy earlier this year after making a cross-country journey during the coronavirus lockdown which appeared to breach strict regulations he had helped to design.

Cummings, who had Covid-19 symptoms at the time while his wife had contracted the virus, claimed it was necessary to ensure he had childcare options for their young son.

His actions prompted a furious public and a political backlash but he refused to resign and Johnson stood by him at considerable political cost.