Europe

Boris Johnson sent Dominic Cummings packing after 'toxic' infighting at No 10

The Prime Minister booted his top adviser from Number 10 rather than letting him serve until Christmas, following factional infighting and attacks on his fiancée Carrie Symonds.

Dominic Cummings was seen leaving Downing Street carrying a cardboard box last night after a power struggle involving Boris Johnson’s top two enforcers.

The Brexit mastermind decided to quit on Thursday evening as he was infuriated by the dramatic resignation of close ally Lee Cain, who served as the PM’s director of communications.

Both men intended to stay until the end of the year when the UK leaves the European Union.

But the PM wanted them out ‘sooner rather than later’, following months of bitter infighting, rows over lockdown, and claims the pair had been delivering negative press briefings about him and his fiancee Carrie Symonds

A No10 source told the Sun: ‘The atmosphere is one of reset and change and that can’t happen with those two still in the building.’

Both aides will see out their notice until the middle of December but are not expected to enter Number 10 ever again.

Another insider said: ‘Their behaviour in the last 72 hours was toxic and Boris said enough is enough.’

Cummings left with a dig at the PM, telling allies he was ‘indecisive’ and that Cain had to rely on Cabinet Office minister Michael Gove to make decisions, according to the Telegraph.

The Vote Leave director reportedly decided to quit after ‘a shouty’ row with Johnson over Cain’s ousting from Downing Street.

Ms Symonds and a number of influential female Number 10 aides were opposed to an offer to promote Cain to the PM’s chief of staff – which he turned down due to the conflict it had stirred up.

Both Cummings and Cain had been instrumental in Johnson’s rise to power and his landslide victory in the 2019 general election.

But relations with the PM have been souring since the pandemic, particularly since a 260 mile trip to Durham with his symptomatic wife at the height of lockdown, and then another 60 mile round-trip to Barnard Castle to ‘test his eyesight’ after falling ill.

Johnson fought to keep his right hand man by his side, losing popularity among MPs and in the polls as a result.

But a series of Government calamities including the A-level results grading scandal and a row with England striker Marcus Rashford over free school meals made the PM decide it was time for a change.

It is thought a leak of England’s second national lockdown was the final straw for Johnson.

Cummings and Cain deny claims they leaked the plans and were accused of trying to pin the blame on Health Secretary Matt Hancock.

Backbenchers have urged No 10 to use Cummings’ departure as an opportunity to repair the relationship between Downing Street and Conservative MPs.

Senior Tory MP Sir Bernard Jenkin said it was time to restore the ‘respect, integrity and trust’, which had been ‘lacking in recent months’.

Shadow Health Secretary Jonathan Ashworth said it was ‘pathetic’ to see the strain being heaped on the NHS and the public by coronavirus while ‘Downing Street is paralysed by the soap opera of these self-indulgent spin doctors.’

The PM’s official spokesman, James Slack, who will replace Mr Cain in the new year, insisted Johnson is not being distracted from the national crisis by the row.

He said: ‘What the Prime Minister and the Government are focused upon is taking every possible step to get this country through the coronavirus pandemic.’

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