IN maritime disaster films the problem comes when the ship’s captain wakes the sleeping kraken.
Similar happened this week as Boris Johnson woke a sleeping Dominic Cummings.
None of it had to happen. Everyone staring at the wreckage must wonder why it did.
The PM spent part of last week in a row over a leak of text messages he exchanged with Sir James Dyson last year. Nothing in them was untoward.
But Labour hope they are uncovering another lobbying scandal.
Number 10 then made the great mistake
They briefed that the PM thought he had identified the leak’s source as Dominic Cummings, the PM’s ex-adviser.
The clear message was that he was bitter and hoping to harm his former boss.
But what was madder still about Number 10’s strategy was that it pushed Cummings to give his own version.
In a devastating blog, he revealed his side of the story.
He concluded it was “sad” to see “the PM fall so far below the standards of competence and integrity the country deserves”.
He showed how he could not have been the leaker.
And he gave Downing Street a bigger problem by talking about an earlier and more serious leak.
He says he identified the source as adviser Henry Newman.
Cummings says that when he told the PM, Johnson was horrified, saying he couldn’t fire Newman because “this will cause me very serious problems with (Boris’s fiancée) Carrie as they’re best friends”.
Cummings says the PM then asked if they could stop the inquiry into the leak
How can government discussion descend to such playground banalities?
Can great matters of state really run aground on questions of who is besties with whose girlfriend?
Firstly, there is a matter of judgment.
Why did the PM think it a good idea to waken Cummings?
But worse is the distraction.
Covid would keep any government busy.
But there are other issues, too.
There is the economic recovery – how we get out of our Covid-induced slump.
We also have to forge a new relationship with the EU.
And closer to home there is the issue of how we ensure our country doesn’t break up, with the Scots Nats trying to destroy the United Kingdom.
The people sailing this ship of state need to get us through a pile of storms and the great storm Downing Street is now in the middle of.
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