LONDON (Reuters) – Boris Johnson has lost no time in making his mark as British prime minister. In two weeks, he has toured the country telling Britons a spending squeeze will end and they will leave the European Union on Oct. 31 no matter what.
FILE PHOTO: Dominic Cummings, special advisor for Britain’s Prime Minister Boris Johnson, is seen at Downing Street in London, Britain August 2, 2019. REUTERS/Simon Dawson
His moves bear the hallmark of one man who has stayed behind the scenes since Johnson became prime minister on July 24 but has a vital role — senior adviser and de facto chief of staff Dominic Cummings.
Cummings, the architect of the ‘Vote Leave’ campaign in the 2016 Brexit referendum, says little in public. Yet comments by two sources who worked with him at Vote Leave, his essays, blogs and reports from insiders over the last few years suggest a policy of moving fast and bypassing others in pursuit of a goal.
The two sources, one supporter and one critic, say the threat of a no-deal Brexit is a plan by Cummings designed to force the EU to compromise on the departure deal agreed by Johnson’s predecessor Theresa May, and to pin the blame on the bloc if no new agreement can be reached.
Parliament rejected that deal because some lawmakers feared it could bind Britain to EU rules it would no longer have any say over, leading to a “Brexit in name only”.
But Johnson’s insistence that the government will, if it has to, pursue a no-deal Brexit, has weakened the pound as investors bet Britain, already at risk of recession, could see a disruptive departure.
Making a splash with pledges to voters in pursuit of Brexit is also part of Cumming’s plan,