The prime minister’s main adviser tasked with averting Scottish independence has departed less than a fortnight after being made the head of Downing Street’s Union unit.
Oliver Lewis is reported to have said his position was made “untenable” by others within Number 10.
Mr Lewis replaced former Scottish MP Luke Graham as the unit’s chief earlier in February, just months before the Holyrood elections where calls for a second Scottish independence referendum will be the dominant issue.
Following the new departure, the Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon tweeted: “Disunity in the Union unit. Or maybe just despair at realising how threadbare the case for it is.”
Sky News’ deputy political editor Sam Coates claims Mr Lewis has been “accused of leaking unpleasant information against Michael Gove – but his allies deny that charge”.
He added: “We’re at this critical time in the pandemic, you’ve got a huge number of political challenges with the economy and the Union but there are clear signs and evidence of factional dispute inside Number 10.”
Mr Lewis, formerly head of research for the Vote Leave campaign during the EU referendum under Dominic Cummings, acted as the de facto deputy to Lord Frost when he negotiated the UK’s Brexit deal.
Earlier this week, Boris Johnson appointed Lord Frost as a full member of the cabinet to oversee the UK’s new relationship with the EU.
He has been handed a role as a Cabinet Office minister to “help drive through changes to maximise the opportunities of Brexit”.
Last November, the prime minister’s chief aide Mr Cummings was asked to quit, along with head of broadcast Lee Cain, who had also worked on the Vote Leave campaign.
Downing Street has declined to comment on staffing matters.
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