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The Prime Minister’s special adviser, who was the mastermind behind his Brexit campaign in 2016, is expected to leave Number 10 next month following the resignation of his fellow Vote Leave veteran Lee Cain as communications chief. Tory MPs have welcomed the news as they claimed it would be a good opportunity for the Prime Minister to start fresh. Conservative MP Roger Gale told TalkRADIO Mr Cummings had been a “dead weight around Boris Johnson’s neck since April” when the special adviser travelled to Bernard Castle despite lockdown regulations prohibiting it.
He said: “It is so important that the Prime Minister gets himself an adviser of the kind that he needs and deserves.
“Somebody who really knows what they’re doing, who understands the political game in a way that Cummings clearly doesn’t or doesn’t like.
“And who is able to give the Prime Minister the right advice, the advice that he needs, telling him what he needs to hear not what he wants to hear, enabling him to do what is a very difficult job.
“Instead of that, it seems to me that Mr Cummings has been a dead weight around his neck since April, since the Barnard Castle affair.
“And the Prime Minister has spent a huge amount of political capital, unnecessarily, defending the indefensible.”
Senior Tory MP Sir Bernard Jenkin said it is time to restore “respect, integrity and trust”, which he said have been “lacking in recent months” between No 10 and Tory MPs.
“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 chair 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.”
Conservative former Cabinet minister Theresa Villiers welcomed “a good opportunity for a fresh start”.
“Clearly there are concerns about the dismissive attitude sometimes shown by Lee Cain and Dominic Cummings towards people in Government and MPs on the backbenches,” she told the PA news agency.
“This is an opportunity to move on from that and to have a more collaborative approach.”
Downing Street has insisted there will be no softening of the UK’s position on a post-Brexit trade deal with Brussels with the departure of Dominic Cummings from No10.
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The Prime Minister’s official spokesman acknowledged time was “in short supply” if they were to get an agreement before the Brexit transition period expires at the end of the year.
However he said suggestions the Government could compromise on key principles in the wake of the decision by Boris Johnson’s top adviser to leave were “simply false”.
There was speculation in Brussels that with Mr Cummings out of the way it could be easier to get an agreement.
In response, however, Mr Johnson’s spokesman said: “That is simply false. The Government’s position in relation to the future trade agreement negotiations is unchanged.”
Talks on a free trade agreement – which have been continuing this week in London – are due to “pause” over the weekend before resuming next week in Brussels.
While a number of deadlines have come and gone, there is increasing concern that if an agreement cannot be reached in the coming days it will be too late to implement before January 1.
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