London: British Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s former top aide launched an extraordinary tirade Friday after a series of incriminating leaks, claiming the Conservative leader lacks “competence and integrity”.
Dominic Cummings, who stepped down as his top adviser in December, used a personal blog to allege that Johnson told his staff to lie to the media, tried to block an inquiry, and solicited potentially illegal donations.
In response, a Downing Street spokesperson said “all reportable donations are transparently declared and published”, and added: “The PM has never interfered in a government leak inquiry.”
Cummings, the controversial brains behind the 2016 campaign for Britain to leave the European Union, was appointed chief adviser by Johnson when he took power in July 2019.
He helped to secure a thumping election victory that December, but his frequent clashes with colleagues are said to have led to persistent tensions and he left government a year later.
Cummings was particularly blamed for undermining the government’s coronavirus lockdown message when he went on a lengthy cross-country journey with his family, claiming he and his wife needed help from relatives after they both developed Covid-19 symptoms.
Even some Conservatives expressed concern over Cummings’ explosive charges, which were seized on by opposition parties ahead of UK-wide local elections on May 6.
Labour deputy leader Angela Rayner said “the Conservatives are fighting each other like rats in a sack and slipping deeper and deeper into the mire of sleaze”.
“It shows breathtaking contempt for the country,” she said.
In his blog, Cummings claimed the prime minister had proposed torpedoing the leak inquiry because its findings might prove problematic with Johnson’s fiancee.
He also said he had warned Johnson against plans to use Conservative Party donations in an “unethical, foolish, possibly illegal” way to renovate his Downing Street apartment.
Cummings was responding to newspaper headlines Friday reporting that Johnson’s staff blamed the ex-aide for leaking embarrassing text messages, including some that have embroiled billionaire inventor James Dyson in a Westminster lobbying scandal.
Cummings claims Conservative leader lacks ‘competence and integrity’