Boris Johnson’s senior political aide has requested ‘secret’ visits to several highly-classified defence facilities amid reports he is preparing to radically shake up the military.
Dominic Cummings is planning to visit five of Britain’s top secret defence and security services in a supposed bid to overhaul how those organisations are run.
It is understood he has already visited MI5 and MI6 twice and will be soon tour the Special Boat Service, the SAS, the Rapid Capabilities Office, the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory at Porton Down, and the defence intelligence unit at Wyton.
Cummings has long planned an overhaul of the Ministry of Defence having previously called the department and its procurement system ‘corrupt’ and ‘wasteful’.
In a blog he wrote in March, Cummings claimed the military ‘continued to squander billions of pounds, enriching some of the worst corporate looters and corrupting public life via the revolving door of officials/lobbyists.
‘Scrutiny by our MPs has been contemptible. They have built platforms that already cannot be sent to a serious war against a serious enemy’.
He went on to accuse the establishment of complacency. ‘A teenager will be able to deploy a drone from their smartphone to sink one of these [the military’s] multibillion-dollar platforms,’ he wrote.
‘Such a teenager could already take out the stage of a Downing Street photo op with a little imagination and initiative, as I wrote about years ago’.
According to a memo seen by Australian newspapers, The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age, the visits are so secretive that defence minister Ben Wallace has ‘expressly forbade’ ministry officials talking to Downing Street or Cummings about his planned itinerary.
‘The secretary of state explicitly does not wish anyone to engage Number 10 or Dominic Cummings on this,’ officials were told. ‘It is for the [minister’s special adviser] and the secretary of state to engage in the first instance before delegating to officials.’
On Tuesday, Brexit evangelist Mark Francois – a former defence minister himself – told Britain’s top general that ‘Cummings is going to come and sort you out’ during a select committee hearing on defence procurement.
‘Please nip back to the department and ask them to sort their bloody selves out because if not Cummings is gonna come down and sort you out his own way and you won’t like it,’ he told general Sir Nick Carter, chief of the Defence Staff.
The Vote Leave strategist is also believed to have been the driving force behind the ousting of cabinet secretary Sir Mark Sedwill and other senior Whitehall officials.
The review being carried out by Cummings is due out in September.