UK PM Johnson's communications boss quits

·2-min read

Prime Minister Boris Johnson's director of communications has resigned, a move suggesting tension at the heart of government as Britain prepares to complete its Brexit journey.

Lee Cain has been a loyal ally of the prime minister, working for him since he was foreign minister until 2018 and then staying by his side, sometimes without pay, when Johnson resigned over predecessor Theresa May's Brexit plans.

Cain is also close to Johnson's senior adviser Dominic Cummings after working with him in the Vote Leave campaign to quit the EU, a partnership reborn in Downing Street when the Conservatives won a big election victory last year.

But sources have suggested there has been tension in Johnson's Number 10 Downing Street office since the government's communications strategy was criticised by Conservative MPs for being slow and confusing during the coronavirus crisis.

"After careful consideration I have this evening resigned as No10 director of communications and will leave the post at the end of the year," Cain said in a statement on Wednesday.

"It has been a privilege to work as an adviser for Mr Johnson for the last three years - being part of a team that helped him win the Tory leadership contest, secure the largest Conservative majority for three decades - and it was an honour to be asked to serve as the Prime Minister's Chief of Staff."

Johnson described Cain "as a true ally and friend", thanking him in a statement for his "extraordinary service".

Cain was one of a few in Downing Street who helped drive the prime minister's Brexit agenda but his sometimes pugnacious style could alienate others.

Some MPs in the governing party accuse him and Cummings of running Downing Street like a campaign bunker, sometimes ignoring the thoughts of the party.