Cummings is one of the most controversial figures in current British politics. Accredited for leading the successful campaign to leave the European Union, Cummings has a reputation for being a control freak and a brutal disruptor who loathes the convention and political establishment in equal measure.
However, despite all his apparent control craze, Cummings, according to some, is a man whose purer instincts are making him lose control.
Since joining Johnson in Downing Street, Cummings has been at the center of the biggest discussions about the British government. The most recent incident involved
one of Cummings’ subordinates, Andrew Sabisky, forced to resign after it emerged that he had previously made comments in support of the eugenics and related intellects of Americans in black and white.
Metro newspaper, a free newspaper read by millions of commuters traveling to work across the country, ran under the headline “The weird racist” quits job # 10. ”
The fact that the word weirdo appears in quotation marks is significant. It’s a reference to an advertisement that Cummings published on his personal blog earlier this year, inviting “weird and misfits” to apply for work on Downing Street. This is how Sabisky appears to have come to work for the Prime Minister. The government declined to say if he had been properly checked or if Cummings had hired him without consulting anyone.
Sabisky’s controversy followed months of “Classic Dom” moments, as the British media refer to his speeches. Highlights include the firing of the best adviser to a cabinet minister and his escort from Downing Street by the armed police; to play to divide and conquer with the press by excluding unfavorable journalists from government meetings; suggesting that the government is preparing for a total war with the BBC; and putting the Prime Minister in the curious position of having to intervene and defend the BBC from his government.
Cummings’ close allies suggest that the stories about him are disproportionate and that, instead of engaging in a communication battle and talking to journalists, Cummings spends most of his time dealing with politics and the daily management of the Downing Team. of the road.
But stories about the Prime Minister’s oldest adviser are drawing a lot of attention in the UK at the moment. And some government ministers and conservative legislators are starting to lose patience. “There is an overwhelming loss of confidence in Dom and in his ability to maintain this radical agenda,” said a government minister, who ruined Cummings’ habit of attracting the limelight from otherwise positive stories.
CNN approached Downing Street and Cummings to comment on the claims made in this article, but declined to address them directly.
The longer Cummings remains the most powerful person in Johnson’s inner circle, the more likely the frustration is to infect the Prime Minister himself. “When Boris won the majority, there was a huge amount of goodwill from many of us who were previously skeptical of his leadership. But we’re still waiting to see what he does with it,” said an influential character. conservative politician.
That goodwill erodes every time conservatives are forced to put out the fires started by the man who should lead their Prime Minister’s agenda.
All of which leads to the question: why does Cummings still work for the Prime Minister?
“Boris has the power to rule him if he wanted. But at the moment he clearly feels that Cummings is doing what he wants him to do – go ahead with a disruptive but productive agenda,” says Tim Bale, a professor of politics at Queen Mary University in London.
Cummings’ allies point out that despite his brutal style, he has kept conservatives for the establishment who find his approach to politics vulgar. “We may hear noises from time to time, but it was confirmed when the Brexit deal happened in November. It was the same with the election,” says a friend and former colleague. “As long as he continues to perform for Boris, the longer it is worth for Boris.”
And as long as Johnson continues to think it is worth having Cummings in the tent, things are unlikely to change. “Dom has always been of the opinion that unless he’s in complete control, it doesn’t make sense that he’s in the job,” says Cummings’ ally.
Civil servants and other consultants who have worked with Cummings say that his management style is to make as many people understand that he has total control. Once he has asserted his dominance, he tries to expand his sphere of influence.
On Downing Street, he did so by doing his best to erode the traditional relationship between cabinet ministers and their special advisers. Rather than being fair to their bosses, consultants argue that Cummings is asking to be fair to him.
A former adviser to a cabinet minister said there was an impulse to ensure that “the people of Dom” worked for ministers considered “wicked or unfair”.
And this isn’t just a power trip for Cummings. The people who worked with him explain that Cummings doesn’t distrust people, he simply doesn’t trust them to make the right decisions. Multiple sources have told CNN that Cummings sincerely believes he is smarter than almost everyone he interacts with.
Johnson knew what he was getting himself into. Cummings’ allies say that when he was offered the job, he made it clear to Johnson that if he wanted to build a loyalist court, he would want to become king. Special advisers believe Johnson was happy to agree, because he didn’t want to suffer the rebellions that ultimately brought down his predecessor, Theresa May.
Of course, Cummings is only powerful as long as Johnson believes his aggressive political style is a distinct advantage. The real question is whether and when Cummings will rebel against being more expensive than it is worth. “There is always a compromise between the fact that people feel like they have to go with the program or create what some suggest is a climate of fear that negatively affects their loyalty and productively,” says Bale, the professor of politics.
Allies and enemies predict that this won’t last forever. A government minister explained that Cummings’ aggressive ways were “a bad search for a party with a reputation among some for being bad.”
And as one of his friends said, “the more people have confrontations with him, the more enemies he will have. I have almost half of them [Cummings’ demise] it could end up being some sort of human resource issue where he clearly went overboard in terms of bullying. It could be his unusual assumption. Or it could be a bad decision. “
If and when Cummings’ end comes, many believe it will be a self-inflicted wound. It will be because he cannot trust others to do things correctly, so he stretches too much and makes a mistake. The image that those who know him paint is that of a man who could easily blow himself up trying to repair his boiler because he thinks that the plumber is an idiot.
Until then, the most controversial man in British politics will continue to be one of the most powerful men in British politics. And, however painful a pill is to swallow, until Boris Johnson decides enough, those who tear their hair out of Cummings’ unusual approach to work will have to suck it up.