Our political correspondent The Rebel looks at the fallout from an extraordinary UK Government re-shuffle when the Chancellor of the Exchequer resigned rather than see his advisers sacked, in a huge victory for the Prime Minister’s chief aide Dominic Cummings.
The Rebel asks whether any adviser has ever been as powerful.
With the characters of party leaders under scrutiny from the media as never before, and the anti-Semitic controversy which has engulfed Labour a major factor in the party’s leadership race, this remains an extraordinary political time.
It is difficult to think of any political adviser in history as powerful as the mildly autistic, staring eyes Dominic Cummings.
Yesterday he won his battle with the Treasury and during the scrap a blindsided Sajid Javid dramatically quit rather than see a “joint No 10/No 11 economic unit” as one UK Government ‘source’ put it, in which his own advisers would not be welcome.
Javid was apparently offered the chance to help appoint the new members of the unit but it was made clear that his existing people would face the axe.
But that wasn’t good enough – so he went after just six months in the job and without ever having delivered a budget.
A Treasury ‘source’ (they’re all unidentified ‘sources’ aren’t they?!) said: “They wanted to take control of the whole operation. There was going to be a whole new set-up and they wanted to be in charge of it. Sajid didn’t know it was coming and said no“.
This was a big triumph for Cummings.
He had masterminded the Leave victory in the referendum, he had won big during the election by taking on the ‘Red Wall’, and now this.
That pain in the neck at Number 11 has gone, and he is unassailable.
Tony Blair had Alastair Campbell, David Cameron lent on George Osborne, Thatcher had Bernard Ingham (to deal with the media but he was much more than that) and if you go further back, Wilson had Marcia Williams (or Baroness Falkender as she became notoriously after publication of the ‘lavender list’ on Wilson’s departure) and Attlee was close (as much as he ever could be to anyone) to Herbert Morrison.
But none had the untrammelled power of staring eyes.
The axis between him and Boris is almost unbreakable, and he has virtually unlimited access to the PM.
Of course a UK Government ‘source’ has said it is not personal but the Chancellor had received “poor advice”.
One said: “The PM thought that in Sajid he could have the same relationship that David Cameron had with George Osborne. It didn’t work out. This isn’t about personnel so much as outcomes. We want to be able to work as a close-knit team to deliver on the levelling-up agenda and infrastructure”.
The ‘source’ added that Javid’s aides had been “naïve” and “over-promoted”.
But this is complete nonsense.
It’s a bit like saying it’s not the policies it’s how they are sold that is the problem, or telling a partner you are breaking up with ‘it’s not you, it’s ME’.
Everyone knows the truth – staring eyes won and Javid lost.
But getting the truth in politics is difficult and you have to interpret what is happening.
Yet staring eyes doesn’t need to do that – he just whispers in BoJo’s ear…
Also on The Eye – the woman who won’t now be coming to a crisis-hit Welsh university.
Our Editor Phil Parry’s memories of his extraordinary lengthy award-winning career in journalism as he was gripped by the incurable disabling condition Hereditary Spastic Paraplegia (HSP), have been released in a major new book ‘A GOOD STORY’. Order the book now! The picture doubles as a cut-and-paste poster!