It’s maybe a testomony to present UK politics that the survival of a major minister may come right down to a check of honesty between two famously slippery people. However whereas Dominic Cummings very clearly needs to deliver down Boris Johnson, it doesn’t essentially imply he’s making issues up – not less than not all the time.

In an addendum to an earlier post on his Substack blog on Monday, Cummings argued that Johnson’s defence of his attendance on the “deliver your personal booze” occasion within the Downing Avenue backyard on 20 Could 2020 – he believed it was a work meeting – was a lie.

Martin Reynolds, the senior No 10 aide who despatched the invitation, had been warned the occasion would break Covid guidelines, and it was inconceivable Johnson wouldn’t have recognized of the exchanges, Cummings wrote.

“There are various different images of events after I left but to seem,” Cummings ended, ominously. “I’ll say extra when SG’s [Sue Gray’s] report is printed.”

In regular occasions, such allegations from a former chief aide would appear career-ending for a major minister. However Staff Johnson will know two issues: that Cummings will not be famend as a dependable witness, and that he has a observe report of promising proof that by no means materialises.

For many voters, if they’ve heard of Cummings in any respect, it is going to be for his personal lockdown breaking antics in spring 2020, notably his much-mocked “eyesight test” excuse for a household day journey to Barnard Fortress.

Cummings did eventually concede he had not initially advised the entire fact about his travels, arguing this had been as a result of he had decamped together with his spouse and son from London to Durham for safety causes, one thing he had not been capable of disclose on the time.

Equally, in a marathon, barnstorming efficiency before a Covid inquiry final Could, Cummings promised MPs he would offer proof to again up claims about misdeeds by the previous well being secretary Matt Hancock and others, however never did.

As ever with Cummings, what he says and his causes for saying it are sometimes complicated, rolled up in a nest of vested pursuits, historic grudges and a showman’s intuition for feeding the general public simply sufficient to maintain them .

A lot of Cummings’ utterances usher in thoughts the supposed remark of the Nineteenth-century Austrian diplomat Klemens von Metternich when advised in regards to the demise of his equally wily French counterpart Charles-Maurice de Talleyrand: “What did he imply by that?”

To take one instance, whereas Cummings has been unequivocal in regards to the social nature of the 20 Could gathering, he’s equally adamant {that a} related occasion within the No 10 backyard 5 days earlier was a piece assembly. The distinction? In contrast to on 20 Could, Cummings attended the 15 Could occasion – and was pictured there, sitting inside arm’s attain of a wine bottle and cheeseboard.

Equally, in his newest blogpost Cummings took the time to reject the concept there was a celebration at No 10 on 27 November 2020, regardless of witnesses describing it. One purpose may very well be as a result of it’s believed to have been a leaving occasion for Cleo Watson, a former aide to Cummings, to whom he’s shut.

It’s notable too the way in which Cummings seems to drip-feed info by way of tweets linked to his Substack weblog, the place most items are behind a £10-a-month paywall.

However there’s one factor that ought to fear Johnson: with regards to details about Downing Avenue events, Cummings’ claims have, up to now, tended to be a few of his extra credible.

For instance, the blogpost first setting out what he knew in regards to the 20 Could occasion was printed on 7 January, three days earlier than ITV obtained a copy of the essential e mail from Reynolds inviting 100 or so Downing Avenue employees to “benefit from the beautiful climate” with drink within the backyard.

Just about all of what Cummings set out on 7 January, in some element, has been corroborated with different proof, and from completely different sources.

In his newest replace, Cummings couldn’t have been extra clear: Johnson lied to parliament by saying he had by no means been conscious of attending any rule-breaking events, and this may very well be proved. As ever with this most elusive of narrators, solely time will inform if he actually means it.


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