Cummings will hold a press conference later today. This is a calculated throw of the dice.

“If people really conclude that “it’s one law for them, and another us” – with enemy-of-the-establishment Cummings ironically transformed into an icon of the establishment – the Prime Minister may be irreparably damaged.

This sense will feed through into polls and event in such a way that Johnson will have no peace until his adviser departs, and maybe not even then.

We are a long way from knowing whether this possibility is real, and the heat of this row, deliberately fanned by the enemies of Brexit, of the Conservatives and of Cummings himself is not the best place to make a judgement.”

So ConservativeHome wrote this morning.  But there’s evidently one person at the centre of events who disagrees: Dominic Cummings himself.

For with Boris Johnson having come out fullsquare to fight for him; with no internal inquiry, and with the 1922 Committee’s Executive unlikely to demand his head, Cummings can have only one reason for calling a snap press conference this afternoon – namely, what his own fabled polling, nous and research will be telling him.

Which will be that the saga of his and his family’s Coronavirus visit to Durham could cause the Conservatives lasting damage. Hence his reaching for that instrument of the last resort – the “full and frank” press conference.

Not an signed article (which one can control), a newspaper interview (for which one can set conditions), or even Andrew Marr or Sophie Ridge: instead, a descent into the jackals’ den.  On the basis of the known facts, we believe that Cummings has a legal case for what he did, and arguably a moral one, too.

None the less, we wonder whether such a leap in the dark will land Cummings safely on the other side.  If he’s going to make his case in public, some will ask, why didn’t he do so yesterday – before Johnson’s press conference?

Or do so right at the start of this affair?  Should SpAds be giving press conferences at all?  Then there is the character-is-destiny factor.  Cummings’ leitmotif is his contempt for the media.  Can he leapfrog it to pitch appealingly to an enraged public?  (For so his own research must be telling him it is.)

Perhaps he can and we hope he can, but we can’t help wondering if what we’re in for is Coriolanus Act Three, Scene Three, on acid.

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Author: Paul Goodman


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