Dominic Cummings has “decided to leave 10 Downing Street with immediate effect,” it was reported tonight.
Boris Johnson’s senior advisor had announced that he was planning to leave Downing Street.
However, the controversial advisor to the prime minister was expected to step down from his role by the end of the year.
Mr Cummings says he has always planned to leave by the end of the year, but all indications are that he is leaving after a power struggle within the prime minister’s inner circle.
He wanted his close ally Lee Cain – the No. 10 communications director – to be installed as Mr. Johnson’s chief of staff in order to strengthen his own influence over Downing Street operations.
But the proposed move enraged many high-ranking Tories – and allegedly the Prime Minister’s fiancée, Carrie Symonds – who were alarmed at the prospect of Mr Cummings expanding his influence even further.
When it didn’t work out, Mr Cain – who feared being sidelined with the appointment of a new press secretary – announced that he would resign.
Mr Cummings says reports he threatened to resign on the spot are “an invention” but he is clearly very unhappy about what happened.
Within a little over 24 hours, he informed the BBC that he was leaving too.
Considered more powerful than most ministers, Mr Cummings exercised control over the government’s agenda and demanded iron discipline from the army of Whitehall special advisers.
As the campaign manager of Vote Leave, he is considered a thought leader in the vote on the 2016 Brexit referendum and played a key role in last year’s election victory.
But his aggressive manner and open disdain for MPs and officials earned him many enemies at Westminster who will not be sorry to see him leave.
Some at Westminster predict that this will lead to a less confrontational style of governance, more focused on issues like climate change and building bridges to the decentralized administrations.
Unhappy Tory MPs who have felt ignored since the Number 10 election are hoping Downing Street will take them in.
Others expect the government to be less inclined to fight in a range of institutions – from the BBC to the media to the judiciary.