Senior Downing Street officials now worry that Boris Johnson’s former chief adviser Dominic Cummings will reveal some of their “explosive” past chats in messaging apps, and prefer to avoid criticising him heavily in public, a Whitehall insider tells The Sun.
“Everyone is worried about going too hard on Dom in case he drags them in too,” the unnamed source shared. “There are some very senior people scrolling back through their phones wondering if they are in trouble.”
A number of British newspapers, including The Sun, reported on Friday that Downing Street believed that Cummings was behind leaked text messages between Boris Johnson and billionaire inventor James Dyson over the supply of ventilators at the onset of the COVID pandemic. The texts showed that the prime minister had apparently pledged to “fix” any concerns about a tax burden the businessman’s employees might encounter if they come to the UK to work on the ventilators’ production – leaving his critics feeling uneasy.
Johnson insists that there was nothing “dodgy” about his dealing with Dyson and an attempt to secure more ventilators. Boris claims that anyone who thinks otherwise is “out of their mind.”
Another scandalous leak relates to Johnson’s expensive refurbishment of his Downing Street residence and an alleged plan to reach out to Tory donors to ask them for some financial boost when meeting costs.
Johnson’s spokesman maintains that no money from the party was used for renovations, while all the donations had been declared in an orderly fashion.
But the leaks have put the prime minister in hot water with the British public, prompting an internal inquiry in Whitehall about the source of the scandalous claims.
Cummings, who left Downing Street in November, denies he is the one behind the leaks.
‘Below the Standards’
In a Friday blog post, the former adviser accused Johnson of “unethical, foolish, possibly illegal” refurbishment plans for the residence the prime minister shares with his fiancée Carrie Symonds and their baby son, saying that the PM “stopped speaking” to him about “this matter in 2020” when he had warned his then-boss that he was “almost certainly” breaking the rules of conduct.
Cummings also claimed that Johnson wanted to torpedo the official inquiry into who was behind last year’s leak of discussed plans for a national lockdown, out of fear that this would implicate the “best friend” of his fiancée in being a “chatty rat”. The prime minister says he had never interfered in any investigations.
But Cummings is confident in what he is saying. He has vowed to cooperate with the Cabinet Secretary into the new leak review and even permit the investigators “to search my phone for Dyson messages”.
On Friday, Cummings concluded his unprecedented attack on his former boss and like-minded Brexit devotee, by saying that it was “sad to see the PM and his office fall so far below the standards of competence and integrity the country deserves".
Johnson has responded:
“I don’t think people give a monkey’s about this issue [weather Cummings had been the leaker]. What they care about is what were we doing to protect the health of the British public, and that’s what I care about."