FROM OUR CORRESPONDENT FROM LONDON There is a politically untouchable man in Britain: not Boris Johnson, the prime minister, but Dominic Cummings, his special adviser. The head of government exposed himself personally, on live television, to defend his right arm from the charge of violating the quarantine. And while voices were rising in favor of Cummings’ immediate resignation, Boris called his decision to drive from London to Durham, almost 400 km, despite having already developed the symptoms of coronavirus, to bring to his grandparents, responsible her 4 year old son.
The premier’s embarrassment
It was a press conference at times almost painful, that of the Prime Minister: Johnson wrapped himself in unsustainable contradictions in order to shield his adviser, he practically took the floor from the journalists who urged him, went on to stammer inconsistent sentences. But clearly he doesn’t have the power to get rid of Cummings. The public exit was preceded by a long face-to-face meeting in Downing Street between the premier and his adviser: and it is evident that Cummings must have put Boris in front of the reality that without him the government does not go anywhere. Although now, with him, everyone is at risk of going crashing.
A career psychopath
Johnson cannot afford to have Cummings against him, because he owes everything to him: it was that character, already defined by ex-premier David Cameron a career psychopath, who won the referendum on Brexit in 2016 with his slogan Take back control, Let’s regain control ( and his role was effectively portrayed by actor Benedict Cumberbatch in the BBC drama Uncivil War). It was Cummings who brought Johnson to Downing Street and gave him the December election triumph with the slogan Get Brexit done. We finish Brexit. This is why Cummings has been rewarded with a role of absolute dominus within the government, more powerful than any minister. it was he who provoked the expulsion of the ex-Chancellor of the Exchequer, Sajid Javid, guilty of being put against him. And it was he who launched an appeal to the weird and misfits (ie people like him) to go to work in the government machine.
But with his ostentatious behavior and the limits of the insult, the super-adviser made many enemies even within the government and the conservative party: and for this reason many saw in the tip-off to the newspapers about his violation of the quarantine an attempt to stab him in the back. However, Boris did not move, not even in the face of the evidence: even if in this way he is taking a very high risk. The popularity of the government and the prime minister, who was at the maximum in the first phase of the pandemic, was already dangerously in free fall, while the rising star of the new Labor leader Keir Starmer shines more and more. The Cummings case has now dealt a deadly blow to Johnson’s credibility: it is difficult to see how it can go back up, when it was already under fire for the messy management of the Covid emergency. Cummings’ refusal to step aside risks resembling a Samson with all the Philistines in the end.
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