Who is Dominic Cummings - Boris Johnson's key aide grabbing news headlines in lockdown row?

Clamour seeking Cummings’ resignation as Johnson’s adviser has been growing after he took a 400 kilometre-journey during the lockdown.


British Prime Minister Boris Johnson backed his senior adviser Dominic Cummings on May 24 amid calls from within the ruling Conservative Party for the aide to resign.

Cummings has been under pressure since newspapers reported that he had travelled from London to Durham in northern England in March when his wife was ill with COVID-19 symptoms amid a nationwide lockdown meant to curb the spread of the novel coronavirus in the United Kingdom.

Clamour seeking Cummings’ resignation as Johnson’s adviser has been growing after the 400 kilometre-journey.

The trip fuelled anger among people who have stuck to the government’s guidelines that a person who displays symptoms must stay home for seven days, with the rest of that person’s household doing the same for 14 days.

Johnson’s office said Cummings had made the journey to ensure his son could be properly cared for as his wife was ill with COVID-19.

However, many cabinet ministers and the attorney general have also said that the journey was justified.

Yet, Cummings has so far enjoyed Johnson’s backing in the matter. “I’ve had extensive face-to-face conversations with Dominic Cummings,” Johnson told a news conference, saying his aide had followed the “instincts of every father” when he travelled with his wife for help with childcare while isolating.

“I believe that in every respect he has acted responsibly and legally and with integrity,” he added.

Who is Cummings?

Cummings is called by both, his allies and enemies, as a ruthless strategist who cares little for the conventions of traditional British politics.

He studied under eminent Oxford University historian Norman Stone and graduated with a ‘first’ - the top degree class awarded at British universities.

While former prime minister David Cameron said he was a “career psychopath”, Cummings’ friends fondly call him “Dom”.

Cummings, alongside fellow campaigner Matthew Elliott, drove the ‘Vote Leave’ to victory in the 2016 Brexit referendum. He is credited with coining the campaign’s popular phrase: Take back control.

In 2019, after the Conservative Party retained power in the United Kingdom in the general election, Cummings was brought into government as one of Johnson’s key advisers.

Cummings is credited with helping Johnson navigate the maze of Brexit negotiations domestically and provoking Parliament into opposing Brexit — setting the stage for Johnson’s 2019 election victory which was the biggest majority his party achieved since Margaret Thatcher’s 1987 win.

(With inputs from Reuters)

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