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Tuesday, March 5, 2024

Dominic Cummings ‘held secret election talks with Rishi Sunak’

Dominic Cummings ‘held secret election talks with Rishi Sunak’


Dominic Cummings has claimed Rishi Sunak sought a “secret deal” with him in a bid to win next year’s election.

The UK prime minister, whose party is trailing behind Labour in the polls, reportedly discussed working with Boris Johnson’s ex-chief aide as he prepares to go to the country in 2024.

Cummings’ price for returning to the fold was that the PM would have to enact radical reforms, which Sunak ultimately rejected, the Sunday Times reported.

No 10 has not denied Cummings’ account but said no job offer was made. A Downing Street source said: “It was a broad discussion about politics and campaigning, no job was offered.”

The pair were said to have spoken in London last December and again over dinner in North Yorkshire in July, in meetings kept secret from some of Sunak’s closest allies.

Cummings told the paper: “He wanted a secret deal in which I delivered the election and he promised to take Government seriously after the election.

“But I’d rather the Tories lose than continue in office without prioritising what’s important and the voters.

“The post-2016 Tories are summed up by the fact that Sunak, like Johnson, would rather lose than take Government seriously. Both thought their MPs agreed with them, and both were right.”

The former aide said he was prepared to offer his help only if Sunak would commit to prioritising the “most critical things”, citing nuclear weapons infrastructure, future pandemics, Ministry of Defence procurement, artificial intelligence and “broken core Government institutions”.

Cummings is said to have urged the prime minister to abandon his cautious economic approach, settle the NHS strikes and double the threshold at which people pay the 40p rate of income tax from £50,271 to £100,000.

The former Vote Leave campaign director, who was behind the 2019 Tory election drive that ended in a landslide victory, also reportedly advocated leaving the European convention on human rights.

Following the Sunday Times report, Cummings posted on X, formerly Twitter: “Don’t know why someone at No10 blabbed about this but … Brief statement on Times story about the PM asking me to smash Labour and win the election, what I asked for in return (e.g sorting out the horror show of our nuclear weapons infrastructure, pandemic defences), & why we couldn’t do a deal.”

Cummings became embroiled in a public scandal when it emerged he had driven from London to County Durham at the height of lockdown. He later left Johnson’s No 10 in autumn 2020 after a power struggle, going on to admit he had been working to bring an end to his premiership and become a prominent critic of the former PM.

Labour said the revelation showed Sunak was “out of ideas” and relying on “the ghosts of Tories past”.

“Out-of-touch Rishi Sunak is asking the wrong question if he thinks the lockdown rule-breaking architect of Boris Johnson’s failed premiership is the answer,” Jonathan Ashworth, the shadow paymaster general, said.

“After promising to restore integrity to Downing Street, he’s secretly begging Mr Barnard Castle to run Downing Street again. From Cameron to Cummings, the prime minister is admitting he’s out of ideas and too weak to come up with his own.”



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