Sat, 20 July 2024

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By Ben Guerin
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David Lidington Says "Internecine Warfare" In Downing Street Is A Distraction That'll Benefit Nobody

2 min read

The briefing war engulfing the government is distracting it from important issues and will not help anybody involved, the former Cabinet minister David Lidington has warned.

Lidington, who served in the Cabinet of Theresa May with Boris Johnson before stepping down as a Conservative MP in 2019, described the growing row as "internecine warfare".

Number 10 is engaged in an extraordinary war of words with Dominic Cummings, the Prime Minister's former chief advisor. 

Cummings on Friday published an explosive blog which made several allegations about his former boss. They included that he wanted Tory party donors to fund his contentious flat refurbishment, and tried to shut down a leak inquiry to protect a friend of his fiance, Carrie Symonds.

This morning the briefing escalated when an unnamed source reported to be close to Cabinet minister Michael Gove told the Daily Mail that Johnson in October said he would rather "let the bodies pile high in their thousands" than impose a third national lockdown.

A Downing Street source described the claim as "just another lie" and Ben Wallace, the defence secretary, this morning said it was "untrue".

The row is distracting the government from "the day job," according to Lidington, who was speaking at the relaunch of the Best For Britain campaign group this morning.

He said: “This sort of public battle and slanging match doesn’t help the government, whoever the government is.

"It distracts peoples’ energies, their attention and bandwidth away from the day job which is what they should be focusing on at the moment".

"If you work in the senior reaches of the government, whether as a minister or an official or special adviser, you have a huge privilege of being able to talk utterly frankly behind closed doors in a Cabinet, a Cabinet committee meeting, in a one-to-one with the Prime Minister," he continued.

"My guiding principle is you speak your mind completely frankly in private to those who hold power and are taking decisions, but you don’t go around trying to justify your position afterwards.

He warned Johnson, Cummings and others involved in the briefing that nobody would come out of it in a better position.

"Where they have had internecine warfare, it’s never actually helped the people who are participating in it”.

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