Ken Clarke: Dominic Cummings must 'vanish' to last as PM's top aide

Dominic Cummings must ‘stop dressing exotically’ and return to being a ‘back room’ operator if he is to survive as Boris Johnson’s top adviser, claims former Tory chancellor Ken Clarke

  • Dominic Cummings facing scrutiny over appointment of adviser Andrew Sabisky
  • Mr Sabisky quit the government after a furious backlash over previous remarks
  • Ken Clarke said Mr Cummings must minimise public appearances to last in No10

Former Tory chancellor Ken Clarke has predicted Dominic Cummings will not last long as Boris Johnson’s top adviser unless he ‘vanishes’ and returns to being a ‘back room’ operator. 

Mr Clarke suggested the PM’s ‘exotic aide’ will only survive in the job if his ‘personal appearances stop’. 

The veteran former Cabinet minister said it was always an ‘absolute disaster if the chief adviser became the story in the newspapers’. 

His comments come amid growing scrutiny over the appointment of Andrew Sabisky who was recruited to Number 10 as part of Mr Cummings’ appeal for ‘misfits and weirdos’ to join the government. 

Ken Clarke, pictured in Westminster in September 2019, said Dominic Cummings must return to being a ‘back room’ operator if he is to last as the PM’s top aide

Mr Cummings, pictured in London today, is facing scrutiny over the appointment to the government of Andrew Sabisky

Mr Sabisky, who once suggested enforcing the uptake of contraception to stop unplanned pregnancies creating a ‘permanent underclass’, announced he was standing down as an adviser last night amid a furious backlash at a number of his remarks. 

Ministers today suggested Mr Sabisky had ‘jumped before he was pushed’ because of a slew of ‘reprehensible’ past comments. 

MPs are now demanding to know what the process was for hiring Mr Sabisky with Mr Cummings facing questions over his role. 

Mr Clarke told ITV’s Acting PM podcast that Mr Cummings needed to stop appearing in public in order to remain in post. 

He said: ‘Oh you can’t go on like this, you can’t govern a country and explain what you’re doing for the public by the medium of leaks from an exotic aide in No10.’

He continued: ‘To be the back room power behind the scenes which is pretty well every PM in my time has needed somebody like that. 

‘They don’t normally dress exotically and pose for the photographers before giving – quite blatantly – briefings all over the place about what their views are on everything.’

Mr Clarke said Mr Cummings has ‘got to get out of the newspapers’ and simply act as the PM’s eyes and ears. 

He said: ‘Boris may not be interested in the detail of policy but he’s not an idiot he’s a very bright man and the Cummings thing can only last if Mr Cummings’ personal appearances stop and he vanishes and he goes back to being the back room apparatchik which he, of course, you need and what he’s supposed to be doing.’ 

He added: ‘It’s always been regarded as an absolute disaster if the chief adviser became the story in the newspapers.’ 

Mr Clarke was stripped of the Tory whip last year after rebelling against the government over Brexit. He stepped down as an MP at the general election.

Mr Sabisky said he did not want to be a distraction to the government when he announced he was stepping down last night. 

Business Minister Kwasi Kwarteng described the past remarks made by Mr Sabisky – which included a suggestion that black Americans have a lower average IQ than white Americans – as ‘offensive’ and ‘racist’.

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