Boris Johnson avoids public Lee Cain grilling as Government ‘in chaos’ over top PR chief’s dramatic resignation


BORIS Johnson will leave Alok Sharma will give the latest coronavirus update from No10 tonight – as he avoids a public grilling over his top spin doctor quitting.

The Government was accused of “fighting like rats in a sack” after the news of fuming rows and a meltdown in No10 over PR chief Lee Cain’s resignation.

Lee Cain quit Government last night after a tussle within No10

Boris Johnson this morning after his daily exercise trip

Cain serves as Boris Johnson's top spin doctor and director of communications

Cain serves as Boris Johnson’s top spin doctor and director of communications

Alok Sharma will lead the 5pm address tonight alongside Steve Powis from NHS England, hours after Mr Cain said he would leave the Government.

But no new announcements are expected, and the update will be on the latest NHS figures and economic stats.

The top PR chief’s departure came after a fuming row in No10 about appointing him to a new role as Chief of Staff.

Tensions were flaring after Allegra Stratton, No10’s new press secretary, started work in a new role earlier this month and will soon give the nation a daily ‘White House style’ TV briefing.

But it is said that the pair were embattled in a power struggle over access to the PM – resulting in Mr Cain walking from his job.

Insiders say a number of female No10 aides including former ITV journalist Ms Stratton and policy guru Munira Mirza raised their objections about Mr Cain directly with the PM.

And it was even claimed Mr Johnson’s fiancé Carrie Symonds had attacked the idea amid concerns about Mr Cain’s abrasive management skills and pandemic handling.

A Labour spokesperson, commenting on the reported infighting from No 10, said last night:

“On the day the UK became the first country in Europe to report 50,000 coronavirus deaths and the public endure another lockdown, Boris Johnson’s Government is fighting like rats in a sack over who gets what job. 

“It is precisely this lack of focus and rank incompetence that has held Britain back. The public deserve better than this incompetent and divided Conservative Government.”

Mr Cain and Dominic Cummings, the PM’s top aide, are part of a crew who previously worked on the Vote Leave campaign.

But MPs are fuming with the No10 operation and how it has handled communications during the pandemic – including a series of embarrassing u-turns.

Fury erupted over the free school meals argument when the PM refused to extend support – then rowed back.

Just two weeks ago Boris announced a national lockdown for England, after repeatedly saying he wouldn’t do so.

Last night Mr Cain said: “After careful consideration I have this evening resigned as No10 director of Communications and will leave the post at the end of the year.

 “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.”

Last night the PM paid tribute to his longtime friend and ally, who has been working with Mr Johnson for several years.

Downing Street Press Secretary Allegra Stratton was said to have objected to Mr Cain’s apparent promotion

Cain’s ally Dominic Cummings is expected to remain in his post

Mr Johnson said: “I want to thank Lee for his extraordinary service to the government over the last four years. 

“He has been a true ally and friend and I am very glad that he will remain director of communications until the new year and to help restructure the operation. He will be much missed.”

Mr Sharma will give an update on behalf of the Government tonight at a press conference.

The Government intends to make the briefings more regular during England’s four-week lockdown which will end on December 2.

The PM and Cain have worked together for years

After that, a new tier system is to be brought in – which could have some changes from the last one.

Ministers will unveil the new plans the week before the lockdown is to be lifted, and a Tier 4 with more harsh measures is still said to be being considered.