Isn’t it amazing, says a friend of Boris Johnson, that the Prime Minister no longer looks as though he is starring in a hostage video? The twin departures of Dominic Cummings and spindoctor Lee Cain have perked him up no end.

“He was miserable with them around, they were bad for his confidence,” says a friend.

Another Whitehall source says that the Cummings and Cain approach rested on keeping Boris as paranoid as possible. “They convinced him everyone in the cabinet was leaking against him and that he needed them to protect him from all the horrible people undermining him. He became very confused about trust.”

Eventually, after that extraordinary situation in late September when Boris was sent to hang around in a police station (for the TV pics) while the Chancellor addressed the Commons on matters of national, fiscal importance, Boris started to ask questions about Cummings and Cain and ring round his friends. How on earth it took him so long to work out that his premiership was at risk because he had put too much faith in cartoon baddies Dastardly and Muttley is a mystery only Boris will be able to resolve in his memoirs.

The suggestion – this cannot be true, can it? – is that Boris did not even know that the Rishi statement in September was happening until it was too late. The resulting pictures were terrible for Boris, with Rishi looking statesmanlike and Boris miles away stuck  as though in an episode of police drama Juliet Bravo or in Police Academy 6 (younger readers, Google).

So it’s all change in Downing Street. And Boris is undergoing a process that might be termed Allegrafication, after his new communications advisor the North London journalist Allegra Stratton. It’s all much lighter. In public appearances via Zoom he’s even been bouncy. He’s being given a complete ITV makeover, a North London refresh. He’ll be dressing like Robert Peston next.

One former government advisor, still plugged in, says: “It’s all classic ITV stuff, very consumer. It’s how Rishi has styled himself. It will be interesting to see if that’s really what people want or whether they want someone who’s serious.”

Ouch. But at least Boris is happier.