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Sunday, April 25, 2021

Battle lines drawn over the cabinet table

As usual The Sunday Times has the inside track on the latest government controversy and it does not look good for Boris Johnson.

Caroline Wheeler and Gabriel Pogrund say that Boris Johnson’s closest allies have compared the prime minister to one of Shakespeare’s most tragic heroes: King Lear, though to be frank he seems more like Macbeth near the end, isolated and just awaiting his fate. All we are need now is for Birnam Wood to come to Dunsinane to finish him off:

On Thursday, the PM decided to finger Cummings for the leaks. It is suggested he may have briefed newspaper editors himself. It was a co-ordinated hit with the story appearing in three newspapers. The Daily Mail, which has been the outlet for most of the leaks, was left out.

Few aides in No 10 now believe Johnson made the right decision in launching the attack on Cummings, prompting Friday’s incendiary riposte. It is understood that he overruled advisers who warned him that the move was “suicidal”.

Some blame the recent departure of so many once-trusted aides for the PM’s “error in judgement”. He is without many of the people who stood by him throughout his first year and a half in office. Cummings, once loyal, is gone. So too is Lee Cain, once described as Johnson’s right-hand-man. The PM has told friends that Cain has repeatedly tried to contact him but that he has ignored his texts.

Allegra Stratton has been elbowed out as press secretary by male aides and is now spokeswoman for the Cop26 climate change conference. Her planned regular live TV briefings have been scrapped.

Lord Udny-Lister, who has advised Johnson since his days as London mayor from 2008 onwards, has quit amid the lobbying scandal and is expected to join the private sector.

As the paper says, the question for Johnson is what the unpredictable Cummings will do next. “This falling out was never going to end well,” conceded one source.

Johnson's aides believe Cummings has nothing to lose and think he has enough “kompromat” to “destroy” Johnson when he gives evidence on Covid-19 to MPs on May 26. I have marked the date in my diary.
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