May 28th 2020DOWNING STREET aides have a habit of creating headaches for their bosses. Damian McBride, Gordon Brown’s pressman, quit over a smear ca
DOWNING STREET aides have a habit of creating headaches for their bosses. Damian McBride, Gordon Brown’s pressman, quit over a smear campaign. Andy Coulson, who did the same job for David Cameron, resigned over his role in the tabloid phone-hacking scandal. Such rows are often complex, who-knew-what-when stories that delight insiders, but which the public would soon forget.
Boris Johnson hopes that’s so in Dominic Cummings’s case. His chief aide drove 270 miles from London to his parents’ farm in late March, while most Britons were following the government’s edict to “stay home”. More than three dozen Tory MPs have protested and a minister has resigned. Cabinet ministers have been rolled out to defend the aide, a spectacle described as “humiliating and degrading” by William Wragg, the Tory chair of Parliament’s Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs Committee. Mr Johnson’s approval ratings are bleeding. More than half of voters, including a majority of Leavers, think Mr Cummings should go.
Mr Johnson is determined he should not. On May 27th he told MPs it was time to “move on” from the “political ding-dong about what one adviser may or may not have done”. Yet this affair feels less like a backstairs intrigue and more like the parliamentary expenses scandal of 2009, which undermined confidence in lawmakers. Like those MPs who billed…