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Current location: Scotland
Member since: Mon Sep 7, 2009, 12:57 AM
Number of posts: 6,815

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Why is Dominic Cummings still in No 10? Because Vote Leavers never say sorry

The adviser is at the heart of a government that is treating the pandemic just like the 2016 Brexit referendum campaign

Dominic Cummings is a lucky man. A couple of weeks ago, Boris Johnson’s chief strategist – and his lockdown-busting trip to north-east England – dominated the news headlines. Now the global outpouring of Black Lives Matter protests and other vital issues in the coronavirus pandemic have captured the news agenda. With the prime minister’s vocal support, Cummings still has a job, and the world seems to have moved on.

But Cummings’s continued presence at the heart of the British government is not just down to luck, of course. Johnson’s special adviser has probably the most valuable asset in Downing Street right now: the unswerving loyalty of the Vote Leave campaign that now holds the key levers of power in British politics.

On paper, Vote Leave disappeared almost four years ago. Having won the Brexit referendum, the campaign packed up its spartan office beside Lambeth Bridge. Cummings left politics to advise an artificial intelligence startup (which subsequently won lots of NHS contracts, but that’s another story).
When Johnson, Vote Leave’s public face, came to power last July his first significant act was to bring in a large swath of the campaign’s backroom operation into the heart of his new administration: from Cummings as his right-hand man to Lee Cain as Downing Street’s truculent head of communications. All the great offices of state are now held by Brexit true believers, from Priti Patel to Dominic Raab.

Why does any of this matter? Well, for one thing, now that Vote Leave has managed to take control of government – and looks set to take us to the brink of a no-deal Brexit, again – many of its ranks are worried about what would happen if their eminence grise were not around to oversee the project.

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