After eight months of confining his thoughts to Substack and Twitter, tonight Dom Cummings went mainstream. His first television interview with Laura Kuenssberg laid bare the tensions that exited throughout Boris Johnson's first year in government and his growing discontent with how the Prime Minister runs his government. Steerpike has already covered Dom's role in saving the Queen from meeting a Covid riddled Prime Minister. But here are four more 'Dom bombs' revealed in tonight's interview:
1. Plotting to get rid of the PM days after the election
Cummings revealed how his issues with Johnson started even before the pandemic began and that less than a month after the victorious 2019 election triumph he was on manoeuvres against the PM:
“Before even mid-January we were having meetings in Number 10 saying it’s clear that Carrie wants rid of all of us… At that point we were already saying by the summer either we’ll all have gone from here or we’ll be in the process of trying to get rid of him and get someone else in as Prime Minister. He doesn’t have a plan, he doesn’t know how to be Prime Minister and we only got him in there because we had to solve a certain problem not because he was the right person to be running the country.
2. Carrie's attitude changed
According to Cumming's testimony, it was not just his view that changed after the election when it was clear Johnson would be Prime Minister for years to come.
The former chief special adviser turned his fire on Johnson's wife Carrie, an established Westminster operator and former CCHQ director of communications:
“Carrie’s view was and is the Prime Minister doesn’t have a plan and he doesn’t know how Whitehall works, someone is going to settle the agenda, it can either be the civil service or it can be Dominic and the Vote Leave team or it can be me. In 2019 her view was better that it’s Dominic and the Vote Leave team than the civil service because that’s the route to winning and staying in Number 10. As soon as the election was won her view was why should it be Dominic and the Vote Leave team? Why should it be me that’s pulling the strings?
3. It's right to doubt Brexit
Interestingly the Vote Leave chief admitted he too had his doubts about the process to leave the EU, conceding in his interview with Kuenssberg that while 'I think it’s good that, that Brexit happened' it was by no means a completely clear-cut case:
“I think anyone who says they’re sure about questions like that [Brexit] has got a screw loose, whether you’re on the remain side or our side. I think one of the reasons why we won is precisely, in Vote Leave we didn’t think that we’re definitely right and Remainers are all idiots or traitors or anything else… we never thought like that in, then and still don’t and I don’t know. I think it’s perfectly reasonable to say Brexit was a mistake and the little, the history will, will, will prove that, of course it’s reasonable for some people to, to think that.
4. £350 million-a-week figure was a troll
If one claim above any other will stick with Cummings it's the infamous 2016 assertion that £350 million a week was sent to Brussels from the UK when the latter were a member of the supranational bloc.
He admitted 'the point of using that really was to try and er, to try and drive the May campaign and the people running it crazy' and went on to concede it was 'a deliberate trap for the other side':
“Yeah. I think that in doing that it helped everyone discuss what is the balance sheet? What’s the true balance sheet?... The reason why that figure worked and the reason why it drove everyone crazy and the reason why people are still talking about it now is that we, we were using true figures.