THE friendship between Boris Johnson and VoteLeave mastermind Dominic Cummings is officially over – with Cummings issuing a scathing condemnation of his former boss.
As Labour supporters flood Twitter with the largely unjustified hashtag #TorySleaze, Prime Minister Boris Johnson seems to have made a blunder in allegedly having his Director of Communications attempt to divert attention towards Dom.
Cummings has since issued the following robust response:
The Prime Minister’s new Director of Communications Jack Doyle, at the PM’s request, has made a number of false accusations to the media.
1. Re Dyson. I do have some WhatsApp messages between the PM/Dyson forwarded to me by the PM. I have not found the ones that were leaked to Laura Kuenssberg on my phone nor am I aware of being sent them last year. I was not directly or indirectly a/the source for the BBC/Kuenssberg story on the PM/Dyson texts. Yesterday some No10 officials told me that No10 would make this accusation and told me what they believe actually happened — that Dyson’s office emailed a number of officials, including HMT officials, and included screenshots of the PM/Dyson texts, and that this correspondence, from roughly a year ago, was passed to the BBC. I do not know if this is correct. Officials told me yesterday that I was not copied in on this correspondence and I do not remember it (I no longer have access to my official email so cannot check this).
I am happy to meet with the Cabinet Secretary and for him to search my phone for Dyson messages. If the PM did send them to me, as he is claiming, then he will be able to show the Cabinet Secretary on his own phone when they were sent to me. It will therefore be easy to establish at least if I was ever sent these messages. I am also happy to publish or give to the Cabinet Secretary the PM/Dyson messages that I do have, which concerned ventilators, bureaucracy and covid policy — not tax issues.
2. Re lockdown. Last year there was a meeting between the PM, Cabinet Secretary, the Director of Communications and me regarding the leak of the decision for a further lockdown on the Friday evening immediately after the meeting in the Cabinet Room that made the decision (known in the media as ‘the chatty rat story’). The Cabinet Secretary told the PM that the leak was neither me nor the then Director of Communications and that ‘all the evidence definitely leads to Henry Newman and others in that office, I’m just trying to get the communications data to prove it’. The PM was very upset about this. He said to me afterwards, ‘If Newman is confirmed as the leaker then I will have to fire him, and this will cause me very serious problems with Carrie as they’re best friends … [pause] perhaps we could get the Cabinet Secretary to stop the leak inquiry?”
I told him that this was ‘mad’ and totally unethical, that he had ordered the inquiry himself and authorised the Cabinet Secretary to use more invasive methods than are usually applied to leak inquiries because of the seriousness of the leak. I told him that he could not possibly cancel an inquiry about a leak that affected millions of people, just because it might implicate his girlfriend’s friends. I refused to try to persuade the Cabinet Secretary to stop the inquiry and instead I encouraged the Cabinet Secretary to conduct the inquiry without any concern for political ramifications. I told the Cabinet Secretary that I would support him regardless of where the inquiry led. I warned some officials that the PM was thinking about cancelling the inquiry. They would give evidence to this effect under oath to any inquiry. I also have WhatsApp messages with very senior officials about this matter which are definitive.
Shortly afterwards the Cabinet Secretary authorised the PM’s then Official Spokesman to tell the media that his inquiry had shown that neither I nor the then Director of Communications were the ‘lockdown leakers’ and he confirmed to me in writing that he had so instructed the PM’s then Official Spokesman (who subsequently left). The PM himself also confirmed in writing that the leak inquiry had shown that neither I nor the then Director of Communications was the leaker, describing rumours to this effect as ‘total bullshit’.
The PM therefore knows that I was not the source of the leak and that the Cabinet Secretary authorised the Prime Minister’s Official Spokesman to tell the media this, yet he has now authorised his DOC to make this accusation.
The Cabinet Secretary knows the above is true and obviously can see our messages regarding this on his own phone. He behaved with complete integrity during this difficult incident.
These events contributed to my decision to stick to my plan to leave No10 by 18 December, which I had communicated to the PM in July the day before my long-delayed operation.
3. Re the flat. The Prime Minister’s DOC has also made accusations regarding me and leaks concerning the PM’s renovation of his flat. The PM stopped speaking to me about this matter in 2020 as I told him I thought his plans to have donors secretly pay for the renovation were unethical, foolish, possibly illegal and almost certainly broke the rules on proper disclosure of political donations if conducted in the way he intended. I refused to help him organise these payments. My knowledge about them is therefore limited. I would be happy to tell the Cabinet Secretary or Electoral Commission what I know concerning this matter.
4. I have made the offer to hand over some private text messages, even though I am under no legal obligation to do so, because of the seriousness of the claims being made officially by No10 today, particularly the covid leak that caused serious harm to millions. This does not mean that I will answer every allegation made by No10.
The proper way for such issues to be handled is via an urgent Parliamentary inquiry into the government’s conduct over the covid crisis which ought to take evidence from all key players under oath and have access to documents. Issues concerning covid and/or the PM’s conduct should not be handled as No10 has handled them over the past 24 hours. I will cooperate fully with any such inquiry and am happy to give evidence under oath. I am happy for No10 to publish every email I received and sent July 2019-November 2020 (with no exceptions other than, obviously, some national security / intelligence issues).
It is sad to see the PM and his office fall so far below the standards of competence and integrity the country deserves.
I will not engage in media briefing regarding these issues but will answer questions about any of these issues to Parliament on 26 May for as long as the MPs want.