Dominic Cummings will go down in British history with three words: “Take back control”. But instead of “taking control back” as the Brexit campaign he devised promised, Cummings turned the UK into a divided nation in just a few months. When the ominous £ 350 million that London allegedly transfers to Brussels every week had long since turned out to be a lie, the train that was supposed to lead the British out of the European Union could not be stopped – and Cummings’ career also picked up speed .
When another politician with a sensational hairstyle and isolationist preferences stepped onto the international stage in July 2019, Cummings drove to government headquarters as a tender with the snorting locomotive: Boris Johnson, the new Tory boss and prime minister, made the ancient historian his chief strategist, and The two Oxford graduates tightened the tone in the choir, constantly threatened with a “no deal” Brexit and systematically deepened the gap between EU friends and opponents.
Splitters stick together
The divisors at the top stuck together closely for a long time, even when Cummings for once turned public opinion not against others but against himself, of course involuntarily. In May, the son of a project manager for oil drilling had upset the British, who were grooming under exit restrictions because of the COVID-19 pandemic, against him: he had illegally driven with his infected wife to the north-east of England, to his parents, who were over 70 years old were and according to the official requirements should not have received any visitors. Johnson appeased – despite billowing anger in the media – and Cummings stayed.
End of the (puppet) theater? Cummings and Johnson (from left to right) with other satirical figures in Westminster Station
But this time it wasn’t enough for the puller in Downing Street. The 48-year-old, who had worked on various projects in post-Soviet Russia for a few years after completing his studies, came out of the prime minister’s office like a simple movers at the peak of his career: with black jeans and comfortable sports shoes – and with an archive box in which Photographers imagined his personal documents. It was that “sloppy look” that the press sometimes mocked and that underlined its otherness in the midst of Westminster suits.
“Stupid as bread, thick as a meatball”
He had proven many times that Cummings was not afraid of controversy with the establishment. For example, he called the former Brexit minister David Davis “stupid as bread, fat as a meatball and lazy as a toad”. In the middle of the week, however, the fighting had shifted to the closest leadership circle. Much remained in the dark, but the intrigue brought down several characters: On Wednesday, Johnson’s communications chief Lee Cain took off his hat, who was considered the top spin doctor – he was also a key figure behind the “Vote Leave” campaign for leaving the EU. Shortly before, the Cummings buddy had been traded as a candidate for the important post of chief of staff.
London’s capital city press analyzed the alleged tricks of a great intrigue with relish, but details of the power struggle have not yet penetrated outside. Opposition leader Keir Starmer also rumbled rather vaguely on the radio on Thursday morning: “We are in the middle of a pandemic, we all care for our health and our families – and this bunch is bickering behind the door of 10 Downing Street.” Cummings was hit head-on by the headwind, but, it seems, was able to secure at least a face-saving exit: While the BBC, citing insiders, had announced that the man who polarized like few others would be shot with immediate effect, several news agencies report, Cummings will not officially give up his post until mid-December.
More time for jogging: ex-head of communications Lee Cain on Thursday
“Almost everyone who worked with him or even met him saw madness and genius converging in him,” wrote the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung once about the climber who, like few others, knows how to use language to guide the masses – especially when he lets other, more powerful people speak. The think tank “Zentrum Liberale Moderne” stated that for some, Cummings was “a brilliant strategist who does everything to assert himself in a power struggle” (which now apparently failed); for his opponents, however, he is “an impulsive and dangerous chaot who puts everything on the line”.
Bewilderment and fatalism
All of this would be nothing more than a British farce if the London emissary David Frost and Brexit chief negotiator Michel Barnier did not conclude a comprehensive trade pact with the EU in these days. Time has virtually passed – an agreement should come into force at the beginning of the year. Originally, a contract text was supposed to be in place by mid-October, then by the end of October. Most recently, the European Parliament said that the breakthrough must be achieved this week. But this week it will probably not work again.
The European Union now apparently regards the chaos on the island as a continuation of a political satire – and comments on the events with a mixture of bewilderment and fatalism: You will continue next week in Brussels, said a spokesman for the EU Commission succinctly.