Ex-Tory minister challenges claim there'll be a 'different' Boris Johnson without Dominic Cummings

Former Health Secretary Stephen Dorrell speaking during a People's Vote press conference at the Inst

Former health secretary Stephen Dorrell speaking during a People's Vote press conference at the Institution of Civil Engineers in London - Credit: PA

A former Tory minister has challenged claims Boris Johnson will be 'different' without Dominic Cummings. 

Stephen Dorrell, who served as a health secretary under John Major's government, said it was unlikely that the prime minister would change tact now that his most senior and controversial adviser has resigned.

Speaking with the LBC's Nick Ferrari, the former cabinet minister said Johnson had actually supported many of Cummings' plans.

He said: "It's all just a bit too convenient, isn't it, that the butterfly is born and chrysalis is left behind and we're all supposed to forget what was done in the name of Boris Johnson.

"Dominic Cummings did what he did under licence from the prime minister. The prime minister cannot now turn around and say, 'oh, that's Cummings' and I'm a different Boris. That's just too convenient and it's actually just rank dishonest."

Stepping up his attack on the prime minister, Dorrell said that Johnson twice ignored advice to lock down early and is still sidelining guidance to avoid a no-deal Brexit while the country deals with the coronavirus.

"You can't just turn around and now say it was all just Dominic Cummings," reiterated Dorrell, adding: "Our country's political culture is damaged by the experience of Boris Johnson's premiership."

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The former Tory MP urged Johnson to negotiate a trade deal with the EU and encouraged him to build a better culture of explaining to citizens the nature of risks they face from Covid-19.

Dorrell's remarks come amid calls for the prime minister to 'renew' his relationship with fractious Tory backbenchers following Cummings' resignation.

Johnson is reportedly in the middle of launching a "charm offensive" to woo the support of his backbench and is planning to give them a greater say in the development of the government's "levelling up" policy after they threatened to destabilise his premiership.

Cummings, and former Downing Street director of communications Lee Cain, also from the Vote Leave camp, resigned last week after losing a power battle with the prime minister's fiancée Carrie Symonds and his new press secretary Allegra Stratton. 

Cain quit after he was overlooked for the role of Johnson's chief of staff while Cummings stormed out of No 10 on Friday.

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