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Ministerial adviser who confronted Dominic Cummings leaves post

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A political aide who confronted Boris Johnson‘s chief adviser Dominic Cummings over his lack of ‘kindness’ has left the Government. 

Lynn Davidson has been removed from her post as special adviser – or ‘Spad’ – to Defence Secretary Ben Wallace after refusing to be shifted to another department. 

The departure emerged weeks after Ms Davidson clashed with Mr Cummings over his behaviour.

The maverick aide had swiped at the end of a meeting of Spads on February 14 that he would ‘see some of you next week’ – a reference to the impending reshuffle in which many of them lost their jobs.

Ms Davidson, a former reporter at The Sun and Daily Mail, later challenged Mr Cummings over the jibe, saying it had been out of order. 

Lynn Davidson

Lynn Davidson

Dominic Cummings

Dominic Cummings

Lynn Davidson (left) has left her post as special adviser – or ‘Spad’ – to Defence Secretary Ben Wallace after rebuking Dominic Cummings (right) over his behaviour last month. Tory sources insisted the departure was not linked to the clash 

Senior Tory sources stressed her departure – first revealed by Buzzfeed – was not in response to the spat. 

Dominic Cummings: The main controversies since the maverick aide joined Number 10

Andrew Sabisky: The now ex-adviser was hired as part of Mr Cummings’ drive to recruit ‘misfits and weirdos’. Mr Sabisky quit the government this week amid outcry over his previous remarks about race, women and benefits. 

Sajid Javid: Mr Javid quit as chancellor at last week’s reshuffle after he refused a demand from Mr Cummings to sack all of his staff.  

HS2: Mr Cummings previously called the high speed rail network a disaster zone and was against it going ahead. But he was overruled by Mr Johnson and Mr Javid.

The Budget: The Vote Leave maverick was reportedly working on Budget ideas ‘full time’ when Mr Javid was chancellor, sparking growing tensions with the Treasury.

Special Advisers: The top aide faced fierce criticism after recently telling a meeting of spads before the reshuffle that he would ‘see half of you next week’. 

PJ Masks: Before the reshuffle, Mr Cummings suggested that the characters from the children’s television show PJ Masks would do a better job than the current Cabinet. 

Sonia Khan: Ms Khan, a senior adviser to Mr Javid, was sacked by Mr Cummings last year and was then frogmarched out of Downing Street. She was accused of staying in touch with people close to her former boss, Philip Hammond.

She is believed to have been offered a move to the health or education departments before her clash with Mr Cummings, but refused to go.  

The exit is the latest chapter in a brutal cull of Spads as Mr Cummings tries to rein in their activities.

Sajid Javid quit as Chancellor during the reshuffle last month when the PM told him he had to accept having his team of advisers axed and sharing a team with No10.

Mr Javid used a resignation statement in the Commons last week – watched by Mr Johnson – to say that agreeing would have damaged his ability to ‘speak truth to power’.

He declined to name Mr Cummings directly, but joked that there had been a lot of gossip already about ‘comings and goings’, to laughter from MPs.

The Bromsgrove MP told the Commons: ‘A Chancellor, like all cabinet ministers, has to be able to give candid advice so he is speaking truth to power.

‘I believe that the arrangement proposed would significantly inhibit that and it would not have been in the national interest.

‘So while I was grateful for the continued trust of the Prime Minister in wanting to reappoint me, I am afraid that these were conditions that I could not accept in good conscience.’ 

Another aide to Mr Javid, Sonia Khan, was frogmarched out of Downing Street by police officers after being sacked by Mr Cummings last year. 

It is understood an overhaul to the arrangements for political advisers has been going on for some time.  

The maverick No10 strategist has tried to implement a ban on Spads accepting drinks or meals from reporters. 

Sajid Javid (pictured in the Commons last week) quit as Chancellor during the reshuffle last month when the PM told him he had to accept having his team of advisers axed and sharing a team with No10

Sajid Javid (pictured in the Commons last week) quit as Chancellor during the reshuffle last month when the PM told him he had to accept having his team of advisers axed and sharing a team with No10

Sajid Javid (pictured in the Commons last week) quit as Chancellor during the reshuffle last month when the PM told him he had to accept having his team of advisers axed and sharing a team with No10 

Mr Cummings has launched a drive to recruit ‘misfits and weirdos’ to government, saying he wants people with off-the-wall talents to work alongside conventional officials.

There have been signs of disquiet among senior Tories over Mr Cummings’ influence over government, and his insistence on provoking conflict. 

One told MailOnline last week: ‘There is going to come a point when the PM is going to have to say to him: ”You’ve gone too far”.’

It emerged this week that the civil service is drawing up new HR rules for ministerial advisers.   

The Cabinet Office is recruiting an official to help ‘establish the cross-government special adviser HR function’.

The ‘high-profile and stretching role’ – with a salary of up to £60,635 – would see the successful candidate being asked to ‘revise and embed a full suite of HR policies, processes and principles ensuring they are fit for purpose’.

Westminster’s most cut-throat job: Spads are ambitious (and well paid) but their roles live and die on the fortunes of their bosses

Special advisers are the well-paid right-hand men and women of Cabinet ministers.

The ‘Spads’ are funded by the Government and are technically ‘temporary civil servants’, despite being party political appointees.

The job is very much a staging post for young and ambitious party members, with many Spads going on to become MPs. 

They cover briefs including work on departmental policy as well as handling media relations  – something Dominic Cummings wants to stamp out.

They are well-paid, but have little job security, as their positions are tied to the fortunes of their bosses. 

Mr Javid’s five-strong team follow him out of the No 11 door today after he resigned.

Some newly appointed ministers will take on those who worked for their predecessors, but often they will have their own staff who will follow them to a new post.

Last year a report revealed the number of Spads had soared to record levels.

An official report revealed that in November there were 108, up from 99 the year before.

They cost the taxpayer £7.1million in 2018/19, up 8 per cent on the total just a year before.

The highest earner is Downing Street communications director Lee Cain, who earns between £140,000 and £145,0000 – almost as much as Boris Johnson himself.

He is on the same salary as Sir Ed Lister, Number 10 chief of staff, and Munira Mirza, director of the PM’s policy unit.

Mr Cummings is paid almost £100,000 a year.

In total, Mr Johnson has 44 special advisers – 35 of whom are paid more than £75,000.

The highest paid special adviser outside Number 10 is Mats Persson, who worked for Sajid Javid and earns up to £125,000.

 

 

 

DailyMail Online


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