Publishedduration10 minutes ago
media captionDominic Cummings leaves Number 10
Two of Boris Johnson’s most senior aides have left Downing Street for the last time after internal battles over their roles.
Chief adviser Dominic Cummings and director of communications Lee Cain will work out their notices at home following tensions within No 10.
Lord Lister will become Mr Johnson’s interim chief of staff pending a wide-ranging shake-up of the PM’s team.
Mr Johnson’s official spokesman said the PM was not distracted by the row.
“What the prime minister and the government are focused upon is taking every possible step to get this country through the coronavirus pandemic,” James Slack, who will replace Mr Cain, said.
Meanwhile, several senior Conservatives welcomed the changes in the team surrounding the prime minister.
Former Tory leader Sir Iain Duncan Smith wrote in the Daily Telegraph that Mr Cummings’ influence at No 10 led to “a ramshackle operation in the hands of one man”.
Another MP said was it was time to “rejoice” at the departure of the two aides, the BBC’s deputy political editor Vicki Young reported.
Both Mr Cummings, 48, and Mr Cain, 39, are veterans of the Vote Leave campaign and worked closely with Mr Johnson to deliver the pro-Brexit vote during the 2016 EU referendum.
It comes as trade talks between the UK and the EU on a future relationship reach a “make or break” point, with crucial points of difference proving hard to resolve ahead of a looming deadline for a deal.
By Nicholas Watt, Newsnight Political Editor
There are conflicting accounts of the final meeting involving Boris Johnson and his departing aides, Dominic Cummings and Lee Cain.
Newsnight has been told that relations between the trio “went off the cliff” in the early afternoon on Friday.
The prime minister’s team reportedly learnt at around 14:00 GMT that Mr Cummings’ team had described him as indecisive.
They also heard of an alleged briefing against the prime minister’s partner, Carrie Symonds, who had apparently been uneasy about a plan to promote Mr Cain to chief of staff.
Newsnight was told that the prime minister expressed his displeasure during a meeting with Mr Cummings and Mr Cain. He reportedly told then he knew what they were up to and they would have to leave.
This account is strongly disputed by Mr Cain and Mr Cummings’ side.
A source said that Mr Cummings and Mr Cain held a very friendly and warm 45 minute meeting with the prime minister. Mr Johnson reportedly told them: “I want to get the band back before the next election.”
The prime minister then agreed to a request from Mr Cain to sign a pair of boxing gloves, used during the general election, emblazoned with the words: “Get Brexit Done.”
Mr Cummings left the building.