Politics

Lee Cain quits as Boris Johnson’s top spin doctor after furious backlash to him taking job as No10 chief of staff


BORIS Johnson’s top spin doctor dramatically quit last night after a bombshell day of Downing Street turf warfare.

Ex-newspaperman Lee Cain threw in the towel after an evening showdown with the Prime Minister over whether to appoint him No10’s powerful chief of staff.

Boris Johnson faces furious backlash over plans to give his chief spin doctor the 'top job at Downing Street'

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Boris Johnson faces furious backlash over plans to give his chief spin doctor the ‘top job at Downing Street’Credit: PA:Press Association
Female No10 aides have raised their objections about Lee Cain directly with the PM

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Female No10 aides have raised their objections about Lee Cain directly with the PMCredit: Times Newspapers Ltd
Lee Cain arriving at Downing Street this morning

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Lee Cain arriving at Downing Street this morningCredit: REUTERS

The fledgling plan had leaked on Wednesday sparking a massive backlash from senior figures in Government.

Cabinet ministers and MPs erupted, pointing to “months of communications and PR disasters” like the row with Marcus Rashford and the Lockdown 2 U-turn.

And insiders say a number of female No10 aides including press secretary Allegra Stratton and policy guru Munira Mirza raised their objections about Mr Cain directly with the PM.

And it was even claimed Mr Johnson’s fiancé Carrie Symonds had attacked the idea amid concerns about Mr Cain’s abrasive management skills and pandemic handling.

Last night Mr Cain said: “After careful consideration I have this evening resigned as No10 director of Communications and will leave the post at the end of the year.

 “It has been a privilege to work as an adviser for Mr Johnson for the last three years – being part of a team that helped him win the Tory leadership contest, secure the largest Conservative majority for three decades.”

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Mr Johnson said: “I want to thank Lee for his extraordinary service to the government over the last four years. 

“He has been a true ally and friend and I am very glad that he will remain director of communications until the new year and to help restructure the operation. He will be much missed.”

The row started after Ms Stratton, a former ITV and BBC journalist, was hired last month to be the new face of No10 on TV – against Mr Cain’s wishes.

While Dominic Cummings retains his position as Mr Johnson’s most powerful political aide, No10 insiders believe someone else is needed to focus on the day to day running of Mr Johnson’s operation as Chief of Staff – a role Mr Cummings shunned.

Press secretary Allegra Stratton spoke to the PM about his appointment

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Press secretary Allegra Stratton spoke to the PM about his appointmentCredit: London News Pictures
Policy guru Munira Mirza also raised objections about Mr Cain

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Policy guru Munira Mirza also raised objections about Mr CainCredit: PA:Press Association
Carrie Symonds is claimed to have attacked the PM's idea

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Carrie Symonds is claimed to have attacked the PM’s ideaCredit: Getty Images – Getty

One source said: “Dom has always been big picture and punch ups. But he has no interest and isn’t very good at the day to day tedious stuff and the pandemic has made that very clear. Lee has been doing that for the last few months rather than dealing with the media.”

A cabinet minister had earlier told the Sun: “I can’t find anyone who thinks this is a good idea. Everyone is going tonto.”

And another minister said: “When we’ve spent the last six months f***ing up the comms how would promoting the comms guy help?”

Downing Street director of communications Lee Cain dresses up as a chicken for former role at the Daily Mirror

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