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Fri, 27 November 2020

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A Government Adviser Who Was 'Whacked' By Lee Cain Is In Talks With The Government About Getting His Job Back

A Government Adviser Who Was 'Whacked' By Lee Cain Is In Talks With The Government About Getting His Job Back

Dominic Cummings (L) and Lee Cain.

3 min read

Former adviser Neil Tweedie, who was sacked by No 10's communications chief Lee Cain over alleged leaks to the press, is understood to be in discussions with Downing Street about re-joining government.

In a week where Boris Johnson has attempted to reset relations with MPs and staff after the departure of No 10's ex-director of communications Cain and chief strategist Dominic Cummings, Tweedie is believed to be in talks over getting his old job back at the Department for Transport advising Grant Shapps. 

The potential return of Tweedie may be an early indication Johnson is serious about his ambition to refresh and reset his government after a tumultous autumn.

The long-standing journalist worked for Shapps as an adviser for several months until he was fired in September over an alleged leak to the press over quarantine rules for returning travellers from Spain. He denies any involvement in the leak.

His warts-and-all account of his experience working under the leadership of the two men, which featured in the Daily Mail on November 13 under the headline "Whacked by the No10 Mafiosi", shed light on what appeared to be a brutal working environment. 

He said Cain had rang him early one morning to say: "These leaks about travel corridors, mate. If they carry on, we are going to have to start shooting people."

"Schoolboy Mafioso language" was being used by Cain to instil fear, he wrote in his account.

"Shooting people, for God's sake. I mean, grow up."

Tweedie is believed to be in discussions about the possibility of him going back, having enjoyed a good working relationship with Shapps himself.

Cain and Cummings - both instrumental in the Vote Leave campaign - departed Downing Street last week after a torrid briefing war involving themselves, and new press secretary Allegra Stratton and the prime minister's fiance Carrie Symonds.

It is understood there was uproar from those close to the PM about his plan to promote Cain to chief-of-staff, and the PM came under pressure to withdraw the offer. Cain then resigned. 

Cummings left last Friday night, carrying his belongings in a cardboard box. He told the BBC that he did not threaten to resign and there were always plans for him to leave by the end of the year, though there were reports the Prime Minister was upset about briefings he had seen in the press against Symonds. 

The government also settled out of court over claims he unfairly dismissed former Treasury aide Sonia Khan who he had marched out of Downing Street by armed police. He had accused her of allegedly leaking of Brexit secrets.

Tweedie said he was sacked by Cain over a story that appeared in newspapers in September about the quarantining of people returning from Spain.

He wrote in the Daily Mail that his letter of dismissal from the Cabinet Office said "no finding attributing responsibility to you has been made," but was sacked anyway, because he had deleted old calls from his phone – which he said he'd done so that only ones needing to be dealt with stood out.

"I had zero involvement in that leak," Tweedie wrote. 

"I do not mourn the fact that he has now been 'whacked' in true Mafia style."

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