Dominic Cummings has claimed Boris Johnson said after the 2016 Brexit referendum that it would be “ludicrous” if he became Prime Minister and that he joined his team in Downing Street to try and direct policy.
After David Cameron resigned in 2016, Johnson allegedly said: “Obviously it’s ludicrous me being PM — but no more ludicrous than Dave [Cameron] or George [Osborne], don’t you think?”
Cummings said in an explosive new Substack email that in 2019 before becoming his chief aide he thought “the problems of Boris as PM can be partly mitigated by us, given we understand Whitehall much better than him and understand effective political action much better than him and the Conservative Party”.
Cummings said he also went to work for Johnson in government in order to get a Brexit deal through parliament and to stop Jeremy Corbyn becoming Prime Minister.
He said a second referendum and a Corbyn Number 10 would be far more damaging than having Johnson in office.
He added: “Features of Boris that are in principle very bad in a PM can be turned to advantage. In particular, his ignorance of Whitehall, his uninterest in policy and his desire to enjoy himself rather than work hard — together with the constitutional crisis and MP terror — all combine to provide a very weird opportunity to force through certain important things that the system left to itself won’t do.
“Precisely because he doesn’t know what he’s doing, we may be able to get him to agree things ‘the system’ will think are ‘extreme’ but we think are necessary — like re-orienting the whole state machine away from Brussels towards science and technology.”
The former powerful aide also recalled a meeting he held with Johnson in 2019 to outline his terms for joining his Downing Street operation.
The Prime Minister is said to have tried to convince Cummings by saying that “we did the referendum, come on, you’ve got to do it and it’ll be great fun to smash all those ***** again”.
Cummings said: “I’ll only do it if it’s crystal clear all spads (special advisers) report to me. Vote Leave worked because I actually ran it, I know how to build teams with great people, remember in Number 10 we barely control anybody and it’ll take time to change civil service management, we can’t do something like this if on top of everything else there isn’t even clear responsibility over spads.
“We’ve got to make science and technology central to the country’s new policy — across the economy, across defence, across Whitehall, everything, a new and fundamental priority.
“We’ve got to double the science budget and change how it’s spent. And you’ve got to support me on changing Whitehall, things like changing procurement which is a disaster.”
The revelations are the latest in Cummings’ efforts to damage Johnson and his government, after months of leaks, blogs and committee meetings that have included a series of explosive claims.
Cummings had an epic seven-hour evidence session at a parliamentary committee meeting in May, where he pinned the blame for tens of thousands of “needless” deaths on Johnson and former health secretary Matt Hancock.
Cummings revealed the UK’s preparations for the pandemic were so bad that a senior civil servant told Cummings last March that “we are absolutely f***ed” after weeks of government incompetence and complacency as the pandemic hit the UK.
He also had a concerted campaign to try and get Hancock sacked, which included posting screenshots of Johnson calling the then health secretary “f****ing hopeless”.
Hancock resigned just over a week ago for his office affair with a close aide.