Boris Johnson was tired of his former chief adviser Dominic Cummings being treated like a “young and inexperienced king” who needed to be put in order, Michael Gove has revealed.
The Leveling Up secretary, who is close to Cummings and headed the Vote Leave campaign next to Johnson, said the pair fell out shortly after the 2019 election because Johnson was now “a stormtrooper with a strong whip”. “Didn’t want to deal. and bridle to keep him in order”.
Gove offered the account in a new book, Johnson at 10, by Anthony Seldon, which documents the chaos and collapse of the Johnson premiership. It argues that Johnson blamed Cummings and his wife, Carrie Johnson, for hiding his reluctance to make difficult decisions in Downing Street. Seldon’s book states that Johnson described his then-fiancée Carey as “crazy and paranoid” because he used her as an excuse to avoid confrontation. Ed Lister, Johnson’s longtime advisor, said: “He thrives on chaos. Those were all his decisions.
It is also argued that Cummings increasingly pushed Johnson out of decision-making in his own government. It added that Cummings would say to officials and ministers: “Don’t tell the PM” or “Oh, don’t bother him with this”. The book claims that this ultimately led to an extraordinary outburst from Johnson: “I am meant to be in control. I am the Führer. I am the king who decides.
A Johnson spokesman said timeswho serialized the book, that the revelations were “the usual malevolent and sexist twaddle” from the former PM’s enemies.
Gove is shown in the book how relations between Cummings and Johnson soured soon after their 2019 election victory that helped them secure an 80-strong majority for the Conservatives. He offered no other ideas about a different way of running No. 10 after the landslide than relying almost entirely on Dom, although he did begin to resent the fact that Dom would treat him if If not like Jeeves and Wooster, then maybe like God Keeper with a young and inexperienced king,” Gove said.
“After the election, Boris no longer wanted to be perceived as a frill with a strong whip and reins to keep him in order. Dom can be abusive and rude. Some days the Prime Minister could laugh it off, but on other days he did not do so.
Cummings also barred Johnson from meeting Graham Brady, chairman of the 1922 committee of Tory MPs. Brady said, “It was a very strange insight into No. 10’s mindset and it resulted in an apologetic phone call.” “Cummings had contempt for our MPs and thought we should be grateful to be in government for the general election result, and our job now was only to behave.”
Cummings eventually left Downing Street in November 2020 after losing out in a power struggle with Kerry Johnson. However, officials told Selden that both Cummings and the former prime minister’s wife had been used by Johnson to escape responsibility.
One official was quoted as saying, “It was apt to make people think that she was to blame for things that weren’t happening.” Another colleague said: “He played us all against each other. He used to tell us that she was impossible to deal with, that she was mad, mad and that he could not control her, would do whatever he wanted. Then he Used to tell him that we were impossible and he could not control us. He liked to pour petrol on both sides and see what happened to the fire.