Senior political journalists have been told that 10 Downing Street will not stand in the way should they look to unseat one of Michael Gove’s top team. Special adviser Dominic Cummings has become a lightning rod for controversy — his latest dalliance with negative headlines came this week after emails emerged in which he suggested a journalist needed therapy.
The charge sheet against Gove’s team as a whole would be more than enough to scalp a special adviser if aspects can be linked to a particular individual:
- A vicious negative briefing against a former Tory education minister, who was described to The Spectator as “lazy incompetent narcissist obsessed only with self-promotion.”
- Ownership of the @ToryEducation Twitter account, used to bombard journalists and others with abuse
- A £25,000 payout to a civil servant in the wake of bullying claims
- Gove’s team have also been linked to the @SteveHiltonGuru Twitter account — which has abeen used to attack a string of figures across Westminster including David Cameron’s chief of staff Ed Llewellyn.
Scrapbook understands hacks were briefed after finally exhausting the patience of a group of senior Cameron aides, who are of the settled view that Cummings is a “complete liability”. The group, which is thought to include director of communications Craig Oliver and former head of press Henry McCrory, who still works for the Tories on an informal basis, are apparently “making enquiries within government about Cummings’ conduct with a view to having him fired”.
After manifold breaches of the special advisers code across government, it looks as though some blood may finally be spilt.