Life under Dom: Cummings’ departure loosens tongues at No. 10

Divisive aide’s exit has unleashed deluge of negative briefings to the press

Dominic Cummings leaves his residence in London wearing a face mask.
(Image credit: Justin Tallis/AFP via Getty Images)

Having held on to his job following his much-criticised journey to Durham during the last nationwide lockdown, Dominic Cummings has finally departed No. 10 following the resignation of close ally Lee Cain.

Cummings is leaving as the UK continues talks with the EU to reach a deal for future trade following Brexit, which he helped to deliver, and midway through his pledged shake-up of Whitehall and revamp Downing Street operations.

But what was life like at No. 10 during his reign? “Sycophants imitated him and he imported a gang of yes men (and they were mostly men) to act as his lieutenants on the public payroll,” a fellow aide told Politico’s London Playbook.

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“These were a collection of strange people with no social skills, who alienated officials and colleagues and contributed nothing to government. We wondered what they did all day.”

Another insider told Politico that Cummings would often “go dark”, meaning that he was impossible to reach for “long periods of time” at crucial moments.

“Most decision-making simply became a matter of guessing what Dom would do - an odd way of forcing everyone to be brainwashed into the mind of Dom,” the aide said.

“He was entirely uninterested in 99% of issues or crises, leaving the No. 10 staff leaderless.”

Not everybody is celebrating Cummings’ departure though. Some northern Tory MPs are worried that “the Downing Street faction that ousted Cummings and Cain is too London-centric in its worldview”, The Times says.

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On the other hand, few will miss Cummings’ penchant for flamboyant public appearances.

After he was pictured leaving Downing Street through the front door after quitting on Friday, a senior No. 10 official told the Financial Times’ Whitehall correspondent Sebastian Payne: “That’s the last time he walks down the road like Kim Kardashian, preening for the cameras like the spoilt lord of Barnard Castle.

“In future advisers will go round the back and let the elected prime minister use the front door.”

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Joe Evans is the world news editor at He joined the team in 2019 and held roles including deputy news editor and acting news editor before moving into his current position in early 2021. He is a regular panellist on The Week Unwrapped podcast, discussing politics and foreign affairs. 

Before joining The Week, he worked as a freelance journalist covering the UK and Ireland for German newspapers and magazines. A series of features on Brexit and the Irish border got him nominated for the Hostwriter Prize in 2019. Prior to settling down in London, he lived and worked in Cambodia, where he ran communications for a non-governmental organisation and worked as a journalist covering Southeast Asia. He has a master’s degree in journalism from City, University of London, and before that studied English Literature at the University of Manchester.