Blog: Boris Johnson news – live: Dominic Cummings admits Brexit may have been ‘mistake’ and he discussed removing PM – The Independent

Boris Johnson calls The Telegraph his ‘real boss’, claims Dominic Cummings

“No-one on Earth” knows whether Brexit was a good idea for Britain, the driving force behind the Vote Leave campaign has admitted.

Dominic Cummings, who went on to mastermind Boris Johnson’s election victory on a “get Brexit done” platform, said that he personally regards EU withdrawal as “a good thing” but admitted it could have been “a mistake”.

The former top aide revealed his thoughts on the EU referendum in an explosive interview by the PM’s former top adviser with the BBC’s political editor Laura Kuenssberg, which aired on BBC Two at 7pm this evening.

He also said he discussed removing the prime minister from his role only weeks after the 2019 election and revealed lockdown-sceptic WhatsApp messages sent to him by Mr Johnson last autumn. The messages resembled ideas in a fringe anti-lockdown opinion piece published in the Telegraph newspaper a few days earlier.

All the claims revealed in leaked messages were made virtually word-for-word in a comment piece published just a few days before in the 11 October edition of the newspaper – which until recently paid Mr Johnson £275,000 a year.

Critics have accused the prime minister of “believing everything he reads in the paper”.

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What about Vote Leave lawbreaking?

Thread here from Carole Cadwalladr from The Observer asking how Cummings was able to make it all the way through the hour-long interview with Laura Kuenssberg without being asked about illegal spending by Vote Leave during the Brexit campaign.

The leave campaign, which Cummings was at the reins of, was found to have broken legal spending limits by donating several hundreds of thousands of pounds to an affiliate pro-Brexit group days before the EU referendum in 2016.

Ms Cadwalladr helped expose the law-breaking, which led to the Vote Leave campaign being fined £61,000 by the Electoral Commission.

Liam James20 July 2021 23:21

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Patel announces increased patrols to prevent migrants reaching England

Priti Patel has announced a fresh crackdown on migrants crossing the Channel after signing an agreement with France to increase patrols along the coastline to prevent boats reaching the UK.

The home secretary announced the signing of the new UK-France cooperation agreement with French Interior Minister Gérald Darmanin on Tuesday evening.

The new accord – which comes into force in the coming days – means that the number of police patrolling French beaches will double for the second time in a year and additional surveillance technology will be deployed on the coast.

It also means that officials will patrol wider areas of coastline across the northern France between Boulogne and Dunkirk and further north-west around Dieppe.

More on this from Joe Middleton here:

‘The British people have simply had enough of illegal migration and the exploitation of migrants by criminal gangs’

Liam James20 July 2021 22:59

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Cummings denies stirring up division with ‘provocative’ Brexit push

Dominic Cummings denied stirring up division in the country with “provocative” tactics to get Brexit through after Boris Johnson’s arrival as prime minister, such as the prorogation of parliament which led to government defeat in the Supreme Court, writes Andrew Woodcock, our Political Editor.

He said that he blamed any divisions on those who did not accept the result of the 2016 referendum, and said it would not have been possible to implement the decision to quit the EU by a inclusive “Kumbaya” approach.

“We did provoke but… the provocation was a by-product,” he said.

“The core thing was we were trying to solve the problem and show people we were trying to solve the problem.

“Was that provocative? Yes. Did we lean into that in various ways to try and disorientate the people on the other side? Yes. But, you know, that’s politics.

“There wasn’t some Kumbaya happy way, in which everyone could just sit down and go ‘Well let’s just do a friendly deal and compromise and blah blah blah’.”

Liam James20 July 2021 22:43

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Cummings: £350m claim was chosen to ‘drive Remainers crazy’

The Brexit campaign claim that the UK sent £350m to the EU per week “drove everyone crazy” because it was true, Dominic Cummings claimed in his BBC interview.

Asked if it was a “deliberate trap”, Mr Cummings said: “Yeah …the point of using that really was to try and er, to try and drive the Remain campaign and the people running it crazy.

“It helped everyone discuss what is the balance sheet? What’s the true balance sheet?

“The reason why that figure worked and the reason why it drove everyone crazy and the reason why people are still talking about it now is that we were using true figures.”

The £350m figure was derived from the amount the UK was notionally required to contribute to EU budgets. But it did not take into account the effect of the rebate negotiated by Margaret Thatcher or of money returned to Britain by Brussels.

The UK has in fact never sent the EU £350m a week.

Boris Johnson campaigns in front of the infamous Brexit bus one month before polling day in 2016

(Getty)

Liam James20 July 2021 22:27

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Boris Johnson, Dominic Cummings and the era of political self-incrimination | POLITICS EXPLAINED

Extracts from Sean O’Grady’s take on Dominic Cummings and the constant leaking of Whatsapp messages and emails:

All parties and governments find openness and transparency something of a challenge, as the euphemism goes. Tony Blair once said, in a fitting outbreak of frankness, that the Freedom of Information Act 2000 was one of his greatest mistakes in office, and called himself a “nincompoop” for putting it on the statute book.

Where once cabals of ministers and advisers might sit around on sofas thinking the unthinkable and saying the unsayable with no officials present and no record being taken, now almost everything can and is communicated digitally, and many will say that an email can never be truly deleted in the way an inconvenient memo could be shredded.

Available to read in full here:

Where once the unsayable could be said between leader and adviser and remain untraceable, the constant leak of inconvenient WhatsApps and emails shows nothing now is truly secret, writes Sean O’Grady

Liam James20 July 2021 22:18

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Channel 4 chair warns against privatisation

The chair of Channel 4 has warned the government against going down the “high-risk and damaging path” of privatising the broadcaster.

The government is consulting on plans to privatise Channel 4, which was founded in 1982 to deliver to under-served audiences, is owned by the government and receives its funding from advertising.

In a letter to Oliver Dowden, the culture secretary, seen by the PA news agency, Charles Gurassa said the government risks “sleepwalking into the irreversible and risky sale of an important, successful and much-loved British institution”.

Mr Gurassa wrote: “We look forward to engaging in a constructive dialogue with you and your department about the role Channel 4 can play in the long-term media landscape and to providing a comprehensive response to the consultation in due course.

“However, we are deeply concerned with the unsubstantiated assertion that a sale of Channel 4 is in the national interest.

“Without a transparent assessment of the implications of such a decision, the Government is in danger of sleepwalking into the irreversible and risky sale of an important, successful and much-loved British institution.”

Liam James20 July 2021 22:02

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‘Sooner Johnson goes the better’

Asked if he was looking to “hasten” the end of Boris Johnson’s time as prime minister, Dominic Cummings said: “Certainly. The sooner he goes the better, for sure.”

“I think it is terrible for the country but I keep trying to stress, you’ve got to balance up the different possibilities,” he said.

“Is [Johnson being PM] objectively a good thing for the country? No, it is obviously objectively ludicrous, that’s why I’ve made the argument repeatedly for all kinds of political change.

“From a practical matter, all our options were bad, so it was, which is the least bad option? The least bad option seemed to be, exploit the current situation to try and push certain things through and get the country into a better position.”

Liam James20 July 2021 21:40

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Kuenssberg challenges Cummings on ‘clearly feeling’ he was ‘superior’ to Boris Johnson

From tonight’s interview on BBC Two

Liam James20 July 2021 21:09

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Cummings: Brexit could have been a mistake

“No-one on Earth” knows whether Brexit was a good idea for Britain, Dominic Cummings, the driving force behind the Vote Leave campaign admitted in his interview with Laura Kuenssberg for the BBC.

Mr Cummings said he personally regards EU withdrawal as “a good thing” but admitted it could have been “a mistake”.

He also said that he and his Vote Leave colleagues had “taken over” the Conservative Party in order to “try and bend it to something that’s different”, in order not only to deliver EU withdrawal but also to “disrupt” the UK’s power structures.

And he admitted that the notorious “We send the EU £350 million a week” slogan painted on the side of Mr Johnson’s Vote Leave campaign bus was deliberately chosen to “drive the Remain campaign crazy”.

Political editor Andrew Woodcock has more on Cumming’s Brexit remarks:

Notorious ‘£350m’ slogan on Boris Johnson’s bus was deliberate bid to drive Remain campaign ‘crazy’

Liam James20 July 2021 20:53

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Tory MP says nothing short of ‘military coup’ could have allowed Cummings to remove Boris Johson

Senior Tory MP Charles Walker dismissed Mr Cummings’ claims that he he discussed removing Boris Johnson as prime minister weeks after the 2019 election.

Mr Walker told Times Radio: “There is absolutely no way on Earth, a No 10 advisor, or any number of No 10 advisors have any capacity whatsoever to remove a prime minister unless they can engineer a military coup, and I’m serious about that.

“Unless they could have engineered a military coup, they couldn’t have got rid of him.”

Liam James20 July 2021 20:37

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