Dominic Cummings accuses ‘foolish’ Boris Johnson of unethical behaviour

Dominic Cummings accuses ‘foolish’ Boris Johnson of unethical behaviour

April 23, 2021

London: Boris Johnson is facing a political crisis after his former chief adviser accused the British Prime Minister of unethical behaviour and asking for a leak inquiry to end because it might implicate a friend of his fiancee.

In an incendiary attack, Dominic Cummings – a key force behind Brexit and Johnson’s thumping 2019 election win – claimed in a blog post that his former boss had behaved unethically since moving into Downing Street and offered to testify about the allegations under oath.

Boris Johnson and Dominic Cummings were allies but have fallen out. Credit:AP/Getty Images

He also slammed Johnson and his office for falling “far below the standards of competence and integrity the country deserves”.

Cummings was once Johnson’s closest ally but quit last November and has said little publicly since.

However, Downing Street on Friday accused him of orchestrating a series of leaks targeting the Prime Minister this year. The most damaging has been about a controversial £200,000 renovation of the official living quarters above Downing Street, which has been funded by unknown private donors.

The accusation that he was behind recent negative stories prompted Cummings to publish an extraordinary blog post on Friday.

“The Prime Minister stopped speaking to me about this matter in 2020 as I told him I thought his [suggestion] to have donors secretly pay for the renovation were unethical, foolish, possibly illegal and almost certainly broke the rules on proper disclosure of political donations if conducted in the way he intended,” Cummings said.

“I refused to help him.”

Downing Street has repeatedly denied Johnson did anything wrong regarding the refurbishment. However, Cummings said he would “be happy” to talk to the Electoral Commission about the affair.

A spokesperson for Johnson rejected the claims about the flat: “At all times, the government and ministers have acted in accordance with the appropriate codes of conduct and electoral law.

“Gifts and benefits received in a ministerial capacity are, and will continue to be, declared in transparency returns.”

Cummings also revealed damaging allegations about an investigation into who tipped off the media that Britain was to enter a second coronavirus lockdown last November.

Johnson reacted angrily to the leak given it caused widespread public confusion. He ordered Cabinet Secretary Simon Case to investigate who was responsible.

Cummings alleged in his blog post that during a meeting last year, Case told Johnson that “all the evidence” of who did it led to Henry Newman and others in the office of cabinet minister Michael Gove.

Newman is close friends with Johnson’s fiancee, Carrie Symonds.

“The Prime Minister was very upset about this,” Cummings said.

“He said to me afterwards, ‘If Newman is confirmed as the leaker then I will have to fire him, and this will cause me very serious problems with Carrie as they’re best friends … [pause] perhaps we could get the Cabinet Secretary to stop the leak inquiry?’.

“I told him that this was mad and totally unethical, that he had ordered the inquiry himself and authorised the Cabinet Secretary to use more invasive methods than are usually applied to leak inquiries because of the seriousness of the leak.

“I told him that he could not possibly cancel an inquiry about a leak that affected millions of people, just because it might implicate his girlfriend’s friends.

“I refused to try to persuade the Cabinet Secretary to stop the inquiry and instead I encouraged him to conduct the inquiry without any concern for political ramifications.

Dominic Cummings leaves Downing Street for the final time last November. Credit:Bloomberg

He also demanded an urgent inquiry into the “government’s conduct” over the coronavirus crisis which has killed nearly 130,000 people in Britain and smashed the economy. All key players should give evidence under oath, Cummings added.

“I will cooperate fully with any such inquiry and am happy to give evidence under oath,” he said.

Cummings challenged Number 10 to publish every email he received and sent between when Johnson became Prime Minister in July 2019 and Cummings’ departure from Downing Street in November 2020.

He finished the blog post with a final shot: “It is sad to see the PM and his office fall so far below the standards of competence and integrity the country deserves.”

Cummings refused to apologise last year for driving 400 kilometres from London to Durham even though England was in lockdown and he and his wife had coronavirus.

He also undertook a separate trip in which he, his wife and son undertook a 100-kilometre round journey from his parents’ farm to the small town of Barnard Castle. Under pressure to explain that, Cummings claimed COVID-19 had damaged his eyes and he needed to test whether his sight was strong enough to eventually drive back to London.

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