Civil servants circulate dossier on maverick No10 chief Dominic Cummings as they brace for ‘hard rain’ shake-up of Whitehall

  • No10 chief Dominic Cummings pushing through major overhaul of civil service 
  • Cabinet Office said to be circulating a dossier on Mr Cummings’ previous views
  • Cabinet Secretary Mark Sedwill among senior figures announcing departures 

A 20-page summary of extensive blogs by Dominic Cummings (pictured today) about the faults in the government machine is being circulated by the Cabinet Office

Civil servants have been circulating a dossier on Dominic Cummings as they brace for a brutal shake-up, it was revealed today.

The maverick No10 chief is said to have warned privately that a ‘hard rain’ is coming for Whitehall, with a slew of senior figures already having been ousted.

Cabinet Secretary Sir Mark Sedwill is the highest-profile casualty, with his departure in September set to be softened by a £250,000 payoff.

A 20-page summary of Mr Cummings’ extensive blogs about the faults in the government machine is being circulated by the Cabinet Office, according to the Times. It was originally drawn up by the Civil Service Learning unit last summer, but officials are being encouraged to read it again as tensions rise.

Only available in hard cop, it describes Mr Cummings’ fondness for ‘red teams’ explicitly tasked with finding reasons why policies should not be pursued, and his criticism of the Whitehall infrastructure.

That included saying the Cabinet room was not fit for purpose because it does not have any ‘tools’ for modern times – with even the clock not always working.

However, the document reportedly exercises discretion about some of Mr Cummings’ blunter pronouncements in the years before he entered No10, including describing the civil service machine as ‘Kafkaesque’.

The former Vote Leave chief, who worked for Michael Gove at the Department for Education, previously wrote of support for ministers: ‘The whole structure of ‘submissions’ and ‘red boxes’ is hopeless. It is extremely bureaucratic and slow… 

‘The whole approach reinforces the abject failure of the senior civil service to think about high performance project management.’ 

Civil service unions have accused No10 of orchestrating a series of ‘corrosive and cowardly’ briefings against Sir Mark – who Mr Cummings is said to have seen as a ‘roadblock’ to a Whitehall shake-up.

Sir Mark, 55, who has more than 30 years of Government service, hit out earlier this week at ‘unpleasant’ off-the-record briefings and ‘sniping’ as he addressed MPs.

He called them a ‘regrettable feature of modern politics’. He also denied ‘resigning’, saying he had agreed with Boris Johnson to step down.

Sir Mark Sedwill (pictured right with Boris Johnson) will get £248,189 when he steps down later this year from his dual role as Cabinet Secretary and national security adviser

David Frost, the Premier’s chief Brexit negotiator, will succeed Sir Mark as national security adviser at the end of August.

He will be given a peerage and operate as a political adviser – the first time the role has not gone to a civil servant.

Mr Cummings was reported to have been unimpressed by the response of the Cabinet Office to the coronavirus outbreak, telling aides a ‘hard rain is coming’ for the civil service.

Mr Johnson has sought to play down claims that Sir Mark’s position was undermined by a series of hostile media briefings.

He insisted Sir Mark, who will continue to be involved in the preparations for the UK taking on the presidency of the G7 next year, still had ‘a lot to offer’.

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