Dominic Cummings departure means Boris Johnson 'ready to do a Brexit U-turn'

Emily Cleary
·3-min read
Dominic Cummings, special advisor for Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson, arrives at Downing Street, in London, Britain, November 13, 2020. REUTERS/Toby Melville
Dominic Cummings, special advisor for Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson, arrives at Downing Street, in London, Britain, November 13, 2020. REUTERS/Toby Melville

Downing Street has vehemently denied Dominic Cummings’ exit will soften the UK’s negotiating stance in post-Brexit trade negotiations with Brussels.

Philippe Lambert, Belgian MEP and president of the European Greens, said the anticipated departure of the Prime Minister's senior adviser before the end of the year was "probably the sign that Johnson has begun his U-turn and will in the end accept EU conditions".

However, the PM’s official spokesman told a Downing Street briefing: “Absolutely not. That is simply false. The government’s position in relation to the future trade agreement negotiations is unchanged.”

Britain's Prime Minister and Conservative party leader Boris Johnson poses with a sledgehammer, after hammering a "Get Brexit Done" sign into the garden of a supporter, in South Benfleet, Britain December 11, 2019. Ben Stansall/Pool via REUTERS
Boris Johnson promised an oven-ready deal for the UK to leave Europe, but negotiations with the EU have since stalled (Ben Stansall/Pool via REUTERS)

The official added: “The PM has been clear that he wants a deal if there is a deal to be done.

"I guess the reason the EU feel the need to say these sorts of things is that they are starting to realise that we meant it when we said there were fundamental principles from which we couldn’t move.

"We need to see some realism and creativity from their side if we are to bridge the significant gaps that remain."

Watch: U.K. Prime Minister Johnson’s Top Aide Cummings Quits

Lambert is the second senior Brussels figure to suggest that Downing Street in-fighting could have repercussions for Brexit trade talks, which are at their final stages.

Manfred Weber, the leader of European People's Party and an ally of German chancellor Angela Merkel, said on Friday that Johnson needed to grip the "chaotic situation", saying it was "irresponsible behaviour from the British side".

He made the comments during a heated debate on Friday’s Today programme on BBC Radio 4, which saw host Nick Robinson accuse him of "always trying to blame the British side" for the deadlocked Brexit talks.

After the Brexit vote in 2016, Cummings became a hero to many who voted Leave, and he was hired by Johnson as senior adviser at Number 10 when he became Prime Minister in the summer of 2019.

News of Cummings’ imminent departure, amidst rumours of tension behind the scenes at Number 10, leaked on Thursday evening.

It was confirmed by Grant Shapps on Friday morning, who said the move will coincide with the post-Brexit transition period ending on 31 December 2020.

"He'll be missed... but advisers come and go," the cabinet minister told Sky News.

"In any government, you require people who are going to shake things up and come up with ideas, and he's actually been that person."

Cummings, once described as a “career psychopath” by former PM David Cameron, has insisted his departure was planned.

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