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Speaking during the latest of his twice-weekly meetings – which have been dubbed “Spad School” – Mr Cummings also heaped praise on Chancellor Rishi Sunak, who is widely tipped to be Britain’s next Prime Minister. However, he also described downplayed the idea of a simmering backbench revolt.
After the behind closed doors meeting, leaks reveal Mr Cummings’ characterisation of Mr Starmer, who as the former Director of Public Prosecutions and an opponent of Brexit, certainly fits the description.
The Times later reported Mr Cummings had been scathing about the praise recently elected Mr Starmer had received, suggested media outlets had been split into “old leave and remain camps” and adding: “They are p***ed off we won.”
Mr Cummings also professed ignorance about “day to day politics” and had been unaware of who the Liberal Democrat leader was.
He said it’s ‘invented b******s’ and that there are no heads on the chopping block
Describing the “effusive” praise heaped on Mr Sunak by Mr Cummings, Steve Swinford, The Times’s deputy political editor, explained: “Cummings mentioned him four times, said he was doing an ‘amazing job’ and ‘knocking it out the park’.”
Mr Swinford said Mr Cummings had also denied there would be a cabinet reshuffle or that education secretary Gavin Williamson was in the firing line.
He added: “He said it’s ‘invented b******s’ and that there are no heads on the chopping block.”
In respect of the ongoing pandemic, Mr Swinford said: “Dominic Cummings said that the Government will address ‘long-term problems’ in the wake of coronavirus crisis.
“He singled out the ‘appalling’ planning system in England and Wales which he said need overhauling because it ‘makes things so hard to build’.”
Mr Cummings himself was at the centre of major controversy last month after it emerged he had travelled more, together with his wife and child, to Durham while exhibiting symptoms of COVID-19.
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He also admitted to making a 30-mile trip to Barnard Castle during his stay in the north-east to “test his eyesight” prior to driving back to London.
The revelation generated widespread grumbling, not least within the Conservative Party, with prominent Brexiteer Steve Baker among those suggesting Mr Cummings should resign.
Writing in the Yorkshire Post, Mr Starmer himself said: “If I was Prime Minister, I would have sacked Dominic Cummings.
“Boris Johnson was too weak to do so and instead we wasted a week talking about the actions of one adviser rather than how we protect the health of the nation and lift the lockdown restrictions safely.”
Nevertheless, the man once described by former PM David Cameron as a “career psychopath” stayed in his job and, given his pivotal role in delivering Brexit, having spearheaded the Leave campaign with the slogan Take Back Control, remains central to Mr Johnson’s plans.
Speaking to Express.co.uk in February – just over a month before Mr Cummings’ contentious road trip – Mark Littlewood, director-general of the Institute for Economic Affairs, who knows him personally – said: “He is a professional feather-ruffler.
“In fact, if you don’t want feathers ruffled then tough, because that’s what he is there to do.
“Dominic is not at all in the mould of the stereotypical bureaucratic – he is a force for creative destruction.
“And if his approach prevails – which it is far from guaranteed to do, given the extent of the resistance he is likely to encounter – it will be the most colossal shake-up of the way Whitehall operates, the no-can do attitude etc, we’ve ever seen.
“I think probably he will do things one step at a time.
“If he is then able to show better performance as a result then it strengthens his hand for the next phase.”
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