Boris Johnson’s chief adviser has quit months after becoming embroiled in a lockdown debacle that saw him accused of undermining public health.
Dominic Cummings was spotted leaving Number 10 on Friday night, through the front door, carrying a box of belongings following days of speculation over his future.
Mr Cummings is a polarising figure in the Conservative party, as the leader of the Vote Leave campaign he orchestrated both the Brexit vote in 2016 and helped Mr Johnson secure the party’s largest majority in 30 years at last year’s election.
But members of the Scottish Conservatives found him a difficult figure to agree with, particularly after the “Barnard Castle Eye Test” episode.
Party leader Douglas Ross resigned as under-secretary of state for Scotland after Mr Cummings’ digression came to light, while former leader Jackson Carlaw called on him to quit.
On Friday, one senior Scottish Tory said Mr Cumming’s leaving was “fantastic”. “He was such a divisive figure,” they added.
“It is beggars belief he didn’t go in the summer, after he undermined the government driving to his family home during the peak of the coronavirus lockdown. It is fantastic he is going now, though.
“He was employed to do a job and he singularly failed to do it. It is important for the whole country Number 10 gets its house in order.”
PM should ‘pack his bags and go with him’
SNP Westminster leader Ian Blackford MP said: “Boris Johnson’s most senior advisers are abandoning the Prime Minister like rats on a sinking ship – just as the UK faces a devastating, extreme Brexit, a second wave of coronavirus, and a growing Tory unemployment crisis.
“It tells you everything you need to know about this arrogant, incompetent and self-serving Tory government that they are ditching their responsibilities – at the exact moment their reckless decisions are causing the maximum damage to people across the UK.
“If the Prime Minister had a shred of integrity he would pack his own bags and go with them. His tenure has been beset by abysmal failure, utter incompetence, and the alienation of Scotland and the other devolved nations.
“Scotland has been completely ignored by Westminster under Boris Johnson. We now face the prospect of an extreme Brexit, a Tory power grab, and the worst economic crisis in decades.
“It’s no wonder that the growing majority of people agree that the only way to protect Scotland’s interests is to become an independent country.”
Tory MP Sir Bernard Jenkin said: “It’s an opportunity to reset how the government operates and to emphasise some values about what we want to project as a Conservative Party in government,” the chairman of the Commons liaison committee told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme.
“I’m not surprised, in a way, that it is ending in the way it is. No prime minister can afford a single adviser to become a running story, dominating his government’s communications and crowding out the proper messages the government wants to convey.
“Nobody is indispensable.”
The unelected aide will, according to the PA news agency, remain employed along with outgoing director of communications Lee Cain until the middle of next month.
Sir Edward Lister will take on the role of chief of staff for an interim period, pending a permanent appointment to the post, a Number 10 spokesman said.