Lee Cain has resigned as Boris Johnson’s director of communications, following a day of Downing Street infighting that resembled a Carry On film crossed with an episode of Yes, Prime Minister. Actually, make that No, Prime Minister, such was the backlash Boris faced when news broke (in The Times this morning) that he planned to promote Cain to Number 10 chief of staff.

Cue a frantic struggle for power. Carrie Symonds, Boris’s partner and a former spin doctor, was appalled by the Cain promotion, regarding him as unsuitable. And allies of Allegra Stratton, the new televised face of Number 10 and rival of Cain, moved to block it too. Cabinet ministers piled in to oppose it too.

All this triggered a screeching u-turn and a Prime Ministerial rethink.

Now the speculation is that Dominic Cummings, chief aide and Cain’s boss in Number 10, will be next. The defenestration of his main ally is embarrassing. The word is Dom is considering his position.

Cain is definitely out. He has issued a statement:

“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 – and it was an honour to be asked to serve as the Prime Minister’s Chief of Staff.

I would like to thank all the team at No10 – including the many unsung and incredibly talented civil servants – for their hard work and support during the last 18 months.

And most of all I would like to thank the Prime Minister for his loyalty and leadership. I have no doubt that under his Premiership the country will deliver on the promises made in the 2019 election campaign and build back better from the coronavirus pandemic.”

Boris responded with a traditional tribute not worth the paper it’s not written on:

“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.”

Much missed! Not by the cabinet and countless ministers who have been done in by the Number 10 operation since last year.

We await, papal conclave-style, a decision from Cummings. Think this is all inside the beltway navel-gazing? Nonsense. A great battle for power, for control of the Boris project and premiership, is being fought out live. Stay tuned.

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