Dominic Cummings and Lee Cain leave Downing Street after No.10 power struggle

Special advisers had been key parts of prime minister Boris Johnson’s inner circle
Dominic Cummings leaves No.10 Photo: PA

By Alain Tolhurst

15 Nov 2020

Two of Boris Johnson’s most senior and trusted advisors not return to Downing Street after a bitter power struggle inside Number 10.

After several days of briefings and counter-briefings the week ended with Dominic Cummings being pictured exiting Downing Street with a box of his belongings as he quit government.

It began with a row over whether director of communications Lee Cain would become the prime minister’s chief of staff.

But following a backlash against the move Cain revealed on Wednesday night he planned to step down by the end of the year.

His close ally and fellow Vote Leave alumni Cummings then suggested he too would leave his post in the coming weeks.

However as photos emerged on Friday evening of the senior aide coming out from No.10 for what looked like the final time, and itsoon emerged Cain would also be leaving his post, creating a power vacuum at the heart of the PM’s team.

According to reports, Cummings and Cain were asked to leave by the prime minister after a 45-minute meeting this afternoon, though sources have suggested the pair will continue to work for Johnson until mid-December, albeit not from Downing Street.

There was no official word about their position, however a Number 10 spokesman said: “The prime minister has today asked Sir Edward Lister to take on the role of chief of staff for an interim period pending a permanent appointment to the post.”

And a No.10 source told Sky News’ Beth Rigby: “The PM wanted to clear the air and move things forward and Lord Lister’s appointment is important in that regard. The PM thanked them for their hard work.”

It was also confirmed on Sunday evening that the prime minister would have to self-isolate in Downing Street after coming into contact with a Conservative MP who has since tested positive for coronavirus.

In a week had been earmarked for a potential reset of the PM’s strategy, both in dealing with the pandemic and with his party’s MPs after the exit of Cummings and Cain, he will now need to stay in Downing Street.

A spokesperson said: “The prime minister has today been notified by NHS Test and Trace that he is required to self-isolate as a contact of someone who has tested positive for Covid-19.

“The prime minister will follow the rules and is self-isolating. He will carry on working from Downing Street, including on leading the government’s response to the coronavirus pandemic.

“The PM is well and does not have any symptoms of Covid-19.”

Alain Tolhurst is chief reporter at CSW's sister title PoliticsHome, where a version of this story first appeared.

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