Dominic Cummings, the Prime Minister’s most senior adviser, will quit his role in the New Year if he is unable to negotiate a pared back position in Downing Street, it can be revealed.
Mr Cummings, who is widely credited for masterminding both Brexit and the Tories’ thumping election victory, is due to take a leave of absence in February for an operation that has been repeatedly postponed since he joined the Government.
The 48-year-old will use the break to renegotiate his contract in a bid to cut down his hours and spend more time with his family after a gruelling six months in government that has seen Downing Street thrash out a new Brexit deal and win a general election.
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One ally of Mr Cummings said: “He will be taking time off for an operation in February and then he will look to see if he can come back in a different capacity.
“He has been working 18-hour days since coming in and he wants to see if he can do a role that works for him and his family. He has to agree it with the Prime Minister, but if he can’t then he will leave.”
Mr Cummings postponed an urgent operation when he agreed to join Boris Johnson’s team until November, but was forced to put it back again because of the general election.
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Losing the political strategist would be a huge blow for the Prime Minister, who has been an indispensable member of his Downing Street team since he entered Number 10 in August.
Mr Cummings is expected to oversee a major overhaul of Whitehall after the UK leaves the EU on 31 January next year, which would see a host of government departments being amalgamated or closed down.
As announced on Thursday, the Department for Exiting the European Union will be closed down in February, while the Department for International Development will be rolled into the Foreign Office.
The Department for International Trade could also be abolished and taken into the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills.
Failure is normal
In a blistering blog in 2014, Mr Cummings spelled out his thoughts on the failings of the Whitehall machine, in which he attacked its safety-first culture and short-termism.
“Almost no one is ever fired,” he wrote. “Failure is normal, it is not something to be avoided.”
He is also understood to have suggested cutting down the size of the Cabinet, having previously stated a Cabinet of more than 30 people as a “complete farce”.
The Durham-born adviser was the architect of the successful Brexit vote in 2016, coining the phrase “take back control” that helped guide Vote Leave to victory in the referendum. He helped repeat the trick in the general election by ensuring the Conservatives campaigned on the slogan to “get Brexit done”.