Boris Johnson was 'stupid' to prorogue Parliament says expert
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The former chief adviser to the Prime Minister said Whitehall officials threatened to stop taking direction from No10 in September 2019. Amid arguments over the prorogation of Parliament and plans from MPs to force Boris Johnson to request an extension to the UK’s EU exit, he claimed civil servants were ready to declare the Government illegitimate.
“The system was just so overwhelming, particularly after the prorogation and the Supreme Court judgment,” Mr Cummings said.
“In September 2019 I had senior officials come to me and say ‘the system is creaking and very shortly senior people are just going to stop obeying orders from this Prime Minister and are going to regard it as not a legitimate government’.”
The revelation highlights the scale of the crisis the country was facing in the wake of the Brexit vote.
Parliament was in stalemate over the UK’s exit from the trade bloc after rejecting Theresa May’s withdrawal agreement on three occasions and failing to determine its own solution to break the impasse.
Mr Johnson vowed not to extend the withdrawal process beyond October 31 2019 even if it meant UK leaving the EU without a deal.
With MPs plotting to force the Government to request an extension to the withdrawal period, the Prime Minister prorogued Parliament to block a vote on the issue.
The Supreme Court ruled the decision to break up the Commons was unlawful, with MPs forcing a final three month extension to Britain’s EU membership.
Mr Cummings has long been critical of the civil service and has accused it in the past of being too pro-EU and out of touch with the country.
Earlier this year he revealed he only agreed to work for Mr Johnson because the Prime Minister promised he would “get Brexit done” and would allow Mr Cummings to reform the civil service.
In January 2020, four months after he says civil servants threatened to stop listening to No10, Mr Cummings launched a recruitment drive.
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Criticising Whitehall for being full of too many people with Oxford and Cambridge English degrees.
He added he did not want to hire “confident public school bluffers”.
He called for “super-talented weirdos” with “genuine cognitive diversity” to apply.
“We need some true wild cards, artists, people who never went to university and fought their way out of an appalling hell hole, weirdos from William Gibson novels like that girl hired by Bigend as a brand ‘diviner’ who feels sick at the sight of Tommy Hilfiger or that Chinese-Cuban free runner from a crime family hired by the KGB,” he wrote.
“Now there is a confluence of: a) Brexit requires many large changes in policy and in the structure of decision-making, b) some people in government are prepared to take risks to change things a lot, and c) a new government with a significant majority and little need to worry about short-term unpopularity.”
Urging those interested to contact him outside of the usual civil service hiring practices, he told applicants to email an unofficial account: [email protected]
Mr Cummings ran the official Vote Leave campaign in the 2016 referendum.
He rejoined Mr Johnson in No10 upon his victory to replace Theresa May as Conservative Party leader.
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