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If Dominic Cummings did leak, he should be praised for promoting open government


ou can see why Boris Johnson might think that Dominic Cummings has got it in for him. The public way in which their partnership broke down last year, with his chief adviser carrying a box out of the front door of No 10 in front of the cameras, combined with Cummings’s reputation as a streetfighter, was bound to make the prime minister nervous.

But the leaks for which Johnson apparently blames Cummings are not really the Dom’s style. On the external evidence, they appear to be motivated by a concern for transparent and honest government – more the kind of thing that might bother a propriety-minded civil servant than a swashbuckling political adviser.

The revelation that David Cameron had lobbied Rishi Sunak by text messages to his personal phone could well have come from a civil servant who thought there was something not quite right about a former prime minister lobbying in secret for personal gain. The chancellor shared the contents of his texts with senior officials when he asked them if what Cameron was asking on behalf of Greensill Capital was reasonable. They said no, which meant that Cameron’s lobbying was unsuccessful, but you can see how a civil servant might think it in the public interest that such lobbying should be disclosed.

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