Lee Cain: Senior Johnson adviser to leave Downing Street

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One of Boris Johnson’s closest aides, director of communications Lee Cain, has resigned amid reports of internal tensions in Downing Street.

In a statement he said he was leaving next month, despite having been offered the role of No 10 chief of staff.

Mr Cain has worked with the prime minister for several years.

His departure prompted speculation about the future of Dominic Cummings, the PM’s chief adviser, but the BBC was told he would not be quitting.

Mr Cummings and Mr Cain are long-time colleagues, having worked together on the Leave campaign during the EU referendum.

BBC political editor Laura Kuenssberg said that, despite the departure of his close ally, Mr Cummings would be staying on for now.

The news that Mr Cain could become the PM’s chief of staff had led to consternation among some MPs, some ministers, and other insiders in government, our political editor added.

One Tory source even suggested that Mr Johnson’s fiancee, Carrie Symonds, had misgivings about that plan.

Our political editor said that allies of Mr Cain were unhappy about how he had been treated, which prompted initial speculation about Mr Cummings’s own future and those of other No 10 aides.

Dominic Cummings is NOT following Lee Cain out Number 10 door – PM’s most senior advisor is staying on for now, despite departure of his close colleague, Mr Cain- understood to want to stay to work to combat coronavirus pandemic and in partic accelerate the mass testing programme

— Laura Kuenssberg (@bbclaurak) November 12, 2020

However, government sources said David Frost, the PM’s chief Brexit negotiator who is leading the UK’s trade talks with the EU, would be remaining in his post.

Mr Cain, who is set to step down next month, is expected to be replaced by the PM’s chief spokesman James Slack.

The prime minister is looking to fill the post of chief of staff as part of a wider reorganisation, which will see ex-BBC journalist Allegra Stratton take on a role fronting new daily televised press briefings.

‘Much missed’

In his resignation statement, Mr Cain said it had been a privilege to work for Mr Johnson for the last three years and said “it was an honour to be asked to serve as the prime minister’s chief of staff”.

But he added: “After careful consideration I have this evening resigned as No 10 director of communications and will leave the post at the end of the year.

“I would like to thank the prime minister for his loyalty and leadership.

“I have no doubt that under his premiership the country will deliver on the promises made in the 2019 election campaign and build back better from the coronavirus pandemic.”

image copyrightPA Media

image captionMr Cain is a close ally of the PM’s chief adviser Dominic Cummings

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