Boris Johnson's Director of Communications Lee Cain Has Quit
Boris Johnson's influential director of communications, Lee Cain, has quit government this evening in a shock resignation after 24 hours of rumours he was due to be promoted.
Cain, 39, worked for Vote Leave, and then for Johnson for three years and is considered one of his most loyal team members.
There is also speculation that chief strategist Dom Cummings is on the verge of resigning. The turmoil at No 10 comes in the midst of the second wave of coronavirus and without a Brexit deal in place.
After stories appeared last night that he was due to take on a more senior role, as the PM's chief of staff, rumours circulated that his girlfriend Carrie Symonds was against his promotion and that a number of special advisers were also unhappy.
The BBC's Laura Kuenssberg reported how Allegra Stratton, the former ITV journalist drafted in to be the PM’s spokesman at the new televised press briefings, was also unhappy about Cain’s potential appointment, as is the PM’s influential policy adviser Munira Mirza.
Cain confirmed in a statement that he had been asked to take on the chief of staff job but is resigning.
He said: "After careful consideration I have this evening resigned as No10 director of communications and will leave the post at the end of the year.
"It has been a privilege to work as an adviser for Mr Johnson for the last three years – being part of a team that helped him win the Tory leadership contest, secure the largest Conservative majority for three decades - and it was an honour to be asked to serve as the Prime Minister’s Chief of Staff.
"I would like to thank all the team at No10 – including the many unsung and incredibly talented civil servants – for their hard work and support during the last 18 months.
"And most of all I would like to thank the Prime Minister for his loyalty and leadership. I have no doubt that under his premiership the country will deliver on the promises made in the 2019 election campaign and build back better from the coronavirus pandemic."
Prime Minister Boris Johnson said: "I want to thank Lee for his extraordinary service to the government over the last four years."
"He has been a true ally and friend and I am very glad that he will remain director of communications until the new year and to help restructure the operation. He will be much missed."
It has been reported that the Prime Minister's official spokesman James Slack is due to take over as director of communications.
A former spad said tonight: "This is all utterly mad. The worst time for this to be happening. All of this in the middle of a pandemic is awful."
There is speculation that those around the Prime Minister who dislike Cain may have suggested this week that he was the source of the leak of a second lockdown. This could then be used as amunition to make a case against him being promoted.
A former adviser said that Cain would not have leaked the details of a second lockdown as there was "no benefit" to him doing so.