Dominic Cummings left Number 10 on Friday the 13th, widely reported to be the latest manifestation of weeks of unrest within Downing Street.
The announcement that he would be let go was released shortly before his departure, but it was expected that he would see the year out at least until Christmas. BBC Political Editor Laura Kuenssberg said there could be little doubt his removal was “accelerated by turmoil in No 10 in recent days.”
Mr Cummings rejected the notion that he had threatened to resign over the exit of Lee Cain, who resigned the day before. It is believed Mr Cain’s departure was the result of pushback from Carrie Symonds, the former party press adviser and Boris Johnson’s fiancée, and Munira Mirza, head of the No 10 policy unit, amongst others, all of whom objected to Mr Johnson offering Mr Cain the role of chief of staff.
Mr Cain and Mr Cummings worked together closely on the Vote Leave campaign. But Mr Cummings insisted his departure from office was the natural culmination of his target to make himself “largely redundant” by the end of 2020, a statement written on his blog in January.
“Rumours of me threatening to resign are invented,” he told the BBC.
Whereas Mr Cain is reported to have left No 10 discreetly, Mr Cummings exited through the front door, carrying a cardboard box, and was later seen arriving home with a bottle of champagne. When asked, he said the decision to make a more public exit was “entirely deliberate” and he wanted to create an “image.”
A controversial figure, the departure of the Prime Minister’s senior adviser has left many MPs hopeful of a change of direction on the part of the government. Former Brexit Secretary David Davis said Mr Cummings had a “very confrontational style” and that a lot of MPs were now hoping for a new relationship “with more openness and interaction with Parliament.” He added, “And I am told the cabinet is going to get more say, as it were, in events.”
Since taking up his position, Mr Cummings alienated himself even from many in Boris Johnson’s own camp by referring to Brexiteer MPs as “useful idiots.”
Former Conservative party leader Sir Ian Duncan Smith pronounced Mr Cummings’ influence as leading to a “ramshackle operation at the hands of one man,” in an article for the Daily Telegraph.
Bronwen Maddox, director of the Institute for Government, expressed the belief that Mr Cummings’ departure had been coming for a long time, citing his widely criticised trip to County Durham over the summer, which she claimed gave “a battering” to public trust in the government.
Mr Cummings made the 260-mile trip during the height of the UK’s first lockdown with his family to see relatives. At the time, he alleged the decision was made to provide care for his children, as he was experiencing coronavirus symptoms. He also defended a second trip out from Durham to Barnard Castle was meant only to test his eyesight.