Scotland adviser sacked by Dominic Cummings under ‘Union unit’ shake-up

Scottish Tories have voiced concern after the Downing Street adviser charged with ensuring government policy helps protect the union was sacked by Boris Johnson’s top aide.

Elliot Roy, a former adviser to the Scottish Conservative Party who previously worked as special adviser to the Scotland Office, is understood to have lost his job in the latest move by Dominic Cummings to consolidate control over the machinery of government.

Mr Roy moved from Dover House to 10 Downing Street after Boris Johnson took office, taking on responsibility for the so-called ‘Union unit’ promised during the Tory leadership campaign.

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Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson (right) and his special advisor Dominic Cummings leave from the rear of Downing Street in central London. Picture: Daniel Leal/Getty Images

It is unclear whether a new policy adviser will be taken on to lead the unit. Sources told the Scotsman that Number 10 wanted to “refresh” and “beef up” the policy team, but no new hires have so far been identified to provide advice on Scotland or devolution in Downing Street.

After lobbying by the group of Scottish Tory MPs, which numbered 13 and held the balance of power before the general election, Mr Johnson pledged to create a Union unit to vet government policy and make sure the devolved nations of the UK were at the heart of the Number 10 operation.

At the time, the Conservative Party said the unit was “tasked with reviewing the impact of all policy proposals on the Union, ensuring all nations and regions are taken into consideration.”

The Prime Minister also gave himself the title of ‘Minister for the Union’ on taking office, although the role is purely symbolic.

SNP Westminster leader Ian Blackford said: “I have written to the Clerk of the Committee calling for Johnson’s de-facto deputy Dominic Cummings to appear before the Liaison Committee over his handling of the UK government’s reshuffle.

“It is clear that the new Johnson government cares as little about the union, as the last Tory government did.

“It’s equally clear that the people of Scotland must have the choice of a better future as an independent country.”

Conservative Party HQ was contacted for comment but referred the request to Number 10 - which then referred it back to CCHQ.

Mr Roy is one of a number of aides to have left jobs on Whitehall as Mr Cummings has tightened his grip on the team of government special advisers.

Last week’s reshuffle saw Sajid Javid effectively forced out as Chancellor of the Exchequer after Mr Johnson asked him to sack all his political aides and accept a joint Number 10-Treasury team of special advisers, under Mr Cummings’ authority.

The installation of Rishi Sunak as Mr Javid’s successor, sharing a team of advisers with the Prime Minister, removes any opposition to Mr Johnson’s increased spending plans and gives Mr Cummings even greater control over the government’s economic message.

As part of the reshuffle, Cabinet Office minister Chloe Smith has been given responsibility for the constitution and devolution.