One of the last remaining Cummings' allies is leaving Whitehall

One of the last remaining Cummings’ allies is leaving Whitehall in ‘clearout of ANYONE linked to former chief aide’ after his attacks on PM and Hancock

  • ‘Data Geek’ nicknamed ‘The Warnertron’ appears to be on his way out of No 10
  • Leaving card and collection circulating around office and must be signed today  
  • Dr Warner told PM in March 2020 NHS would be ‘smashed in weeks if not days’ 
  • Cummings said: ‘It was like Independence Day with Jeff Goldblum saying the aliens are here. With Ben Warner in the Jeff Goldblum role’

Dominic Cummings’ top ‘data geek’ in No 10 – one of the last remaining members of his faction – is leaving Downing Street as part of a ‘clearout of anyone’ linked with him, it emerged today.

Dr Ben Warner, a physicist turned data scientist, was called a hero and compared to Jeff Goldblum in the alien invasion movie Independence Day by his ex-boss during seven-hours of evidence to MPs on Wednesday.  

But ‘The Warnertron’, as he is nicknamed by friends, is leaving his role as the purge of aides linked to the renegade aide continues inside No 10 after a bitter internal war throughout 2020 between Cummings and Boris Johnson and his fiancee Carrie.

Insiders have claimed a leaving card and collection for Dr Warner began moving around the corridors of power this week with the instruction that it must be signed by the end of today. 

A source told The Times that his exit, days after being named by Mr Cummings as a hero of lockdown, is part of ‘clearout of anyone linked with Dom’, who fell out badly with Boris Johnson and his fiancee Carrie Symonds before he left in November. 

‘The PM is putting an end to it as would anyone in his shoes’, the insider said.


Dr Ben Warner, Dominic Cummings’ top ‘data geek’ in No 10 and one of the last remaining members of his faction, is leaving Downing Street

Dominic Cummings’ ‘data geek’ who worked on the Vote Leave campaign Dr Ben Warner (right next to the PM) told the Prime Minister he needed to change course to protect the NHS at the start of the pandemic

Mr Cummings said: ‘It was like a scene from Independence Day with Jeff Goldblum (right) saying the aliens are here and your whole plan is broken and you need a new plan. With Ben Warner in the Jeff Goldblum role’

Dr Warner’s departure came after his former boss Dominic Cummings declared war on the PM, branding him unfit to lead the country and accusing him of causing the deaths of thousands of people because of poor decisions during the pandemic.

Vote Leave ‘data geek’ who calls himself ‘The Warnertron’ leaves No 10 

Ben Warner, a physicist and data expert, was brought into No 10 on the advice of Dominic Cummings after his success with modelling Vote Leave

Ben Warner, a data scientist who worked alongside Dominic Cummings on the Vote Leave campaign in 2016, was brought into Downing Street in December 2019 after Boris Johnson’s election win.

The PM asked him to join the Government after he predicted the election result to within one seat and was also a was a key figure in modelling for the EU referendum campaign in 2016, helping target working class pro-Brexit communities. 

When the pandemic started in the UK, Mr Cummings said he leaned heavily on his long-term colleague, who he praised repeatedly. This included sending him to top secret Cobra meetings.    

Cummings also praised Ben Warner’s brother Marc, an AI expert and millionaire businessman, as a hero who saved ‘thousands of lives’. 

He said Mr Warner should have been given ‘kingly authority’ to run Covid response – but this was refused. He insisted his work with tech companies saved thousands of lives.

He said: ‘Marc Warner is one of the most ethical people I’ve met. If I’d been Prime Minister I would have said Marc Warner is in charge of this whole thing. He speaks with my authority. He has as close to kingly authority as the state has legally to do stuff, and pushing the barriers of legality.’    

In his evidence to MPs on Wednesday, he named Dr Warner, who he brought after helping with the successful Vote Leave campaign, as someone who confronted the Prime Minister over duff evidence from Sage. 

In a dramatic account, Cummings compared the Downing Street pandemonium to when aliens invaded the planet in the movie Independence Day and said the hero in this case was a Vote Leave ‘data geek’ asked to work for the Prime Minister after Brexit.

The PM’s former top advisor said that Dr Ben Warner told Boris Johnson in March 2020 the NHS would be ‘smashed in weeks if not days’ because SAGE had got it ‘all completely wrong’ having predicted the tipping point would be June.

Mr Cummings said: ‘It was like a scene from Independence Day with Jeff Goldblum saying the aliens are here and your whole plan is broken and you need a new plan. With Ben Warner in the Jeff Goldblum role’.

He said that on March 14 Boris Johnson was told by Dr Warner that models showing the peak was ‘weeks and weeks and weeks away’ in June were ‘completely wrong’. 

He added the PM was warned: ‘The NHS is going to be smashed in weeks, really we’ve got days to act.’ Despite this Mr Johnson announced a lockdown beginning on March 23. 

Ben Warner was brought into Downing Street in December 2019 after Boris Johnson’s election win.

The PM asked him to join the Government after he predicted the election result to within one seat and was also a was a key figure in modelling for the EU referendum campaign in 2016, helping target working class pro-Brexit communities. 

When the pandemic started in the UK, Mr Cummings said he leaned heavily on his long-term colleague, who he praised repeatedly. This included sending him to top secret Cobra meetings at least 13 times, often in his absence.

When asked why Dr Warner was sent, he said: ‘The best use of people’s time was to send Ben Warner, a physicist I hired, and a Downing Street adviser. A lot of Cobra meetings are just PowerPoint slides and aren’t very useful’. 

Mr Cummings also gave extraordinary, and at times embarrassing, evidence about members of the Prime Minister’s top team and what they said when the pandemic began to grip.

First he quoted Helen MacNamara, former deputy cabinet secretary, as saying ‘we are absolutely f***ed … I think we’re going to kill thousands of people’. And he also named senior official Mark Sweeney, from the Cabinet Office, who allegedly declared last year that ‘there is no plan’ and ‘we’re in huge trouble’. 

Then Mr Cummings said the Cabinet Secretary Mark Sedwill had suggested the Prime Minister go on television and tell people to catch coronavirus at ‘parties’ as if it was chicken pox. 

Mr Cummings carried his belongings out of No10’s famous front door in a cardboard box in November. He claimed Carrie was ‘desperate’ to get rid of him and his team

Carrie Symonds posted this picture to announce her engagement to the Prime Minister in February 2020

Miss Symonds’ adversaries are said to have used the ‘Princess Nut Nut’ name so much that they started using an emoji of a princess followed by two peanuts instead of words in text messages 

Dr Warner is the latest member of the Cummings cabal to leave No 10, with insiders blaming a war between the PM’s top aide and his fiancee, who Mr Cummings refused to refer to by name when being grilled this week. 

Dominic Cummings ‘took revenge on Dilyn the dog for humping his leg’

Boris Johnson’s dog Dilyn was the unwitting victim of an increasingly bitter feud between rival factions in his Downing Street ‘court’ – a canine caught in the crossfire between the allies of ousted adviser Dominic Cummings and the Prime Minister’s girlfriend Carrie Symonds.

With smears, claims and counter-claims once again engulfing Downing Street, Mr Cummings has been accused of being behind allegations that the dog cocked its leg over a No 10 aide’s handbag, and chewed on antique furniture and books at the Prime Minister’s countryside retreat – inspiring Mr Johnson to call for someone to ‘please shoot that f****** dog’.

Earlier this year it was claimed in The Mail on Sunday that Mr Cummings harbours a grudge against Dilyn because the dog once ‘humped his leg’ during a No 10 away day at Chequers. It was asserted he was using Dilyn to fight a proxy war against the PM’s fiancee. 

Ms Symonds is said to have played a pivotal role in November’s ousting of Mr Cummings and Lee Cain, the director of communications and a fellow member of the Vote Leave faction. 

Stuck in the middle of all the drama was said to be Dilyn. As the feuding has intensified, increasingly negative stories have appeared about the dog’s behaviour. Reports yesterday suggested Mr Johnson had been left with a four-figure repair bill for the damage at Chequers.

An insider said: ‘I was at a meeting where Dilyn darted under the PM’s feet with an old book in its mouth. The PM shouted, ‘For God’s sake, I’m going to get another £1,000 repair bill! Someone please shoot that f****** dog!’ Luckily, Carrie wasn’t around to hear him.’ They added: ‘I don’t think he meant it literally.’

It followed another story about ‘Dilyn’s Watergate’, which saw him cock a leg over the handbag of aide Katy Lam – who then left No 10.

It was reported that Ms Symonds was ‘very angry’ with the reaction from Miss Lam. One Tory source pointed the finger at Mr Cummings, and traced the animosity back to an away day at the Prime Minister’s Buckinghamshire home.

One said: ‘Cummings was chatting away to his friends when Dilyn ran up to him and mounted him, leaving him absolutely furious. He was raging as he tried to get the dog off of him’. 

In an extraordinary barrage of abuse aimed at Carrie, he claimed she behaved in an ‘unethical’ and ‘illegal’ manner as she tried to get her friends into jobs in No 10.

He accused Miss Symonds of distracting early efforts to handle the pandemic by ‘going completely crackers’ over a newspaper story about her dog. Her allies claim Cummings hated Dilyn because he once humped his leg.

And he said his resignation last November was linked to the ‘appalling’ way she had meddled in the recruitment process for Downing Street jobs.

Throughout the hearing, Mr Cummings referred to Miss Symonds as ‘the Prime Minister’s girlfriend’, rather than fiancee, even though the couple got engaged in December 2019. He claimed she had been ‘desperate to get rid of me’ before he finally departed No 10 last year after rows about the appointment of Allegra Stratton as Mr Johnson’s press secretary. 

Mr Cummings told MPs: ‘My resignation was definitely connected to the fact that the Prime Minister’s girlfriend was trying to change a whole bunch of different appointments at No 10 and appoint her friends to particular jobs.

‘In particular, she was trying to overturn the outcome of an official process about hiring a particular job in a way which was not only completely unethical but was also clearly illegal.

‘I thought the whole process about how the Prime Minister was behaving at that point was appalling and all that was definitely part of why I went.’

Mr Cummings said that at the beginning of last year Mr Johnson had been distracted by his private life as the country failed to prepare properly for the virus.

‘He was finalising his divorce, his girlfriend wanted to announce being pregnant, an engagement… certainly he had a very difficult time mid-February in his private life for sure,’ he added.

Mr Cummings claimed that in the days leading up to the first lockdown in March, Miss Symonds diverted the attention of those in No 10 after a newspaper report said she wanted to get rid of their Jack Russell cross Dilyn.

The Times reported that she and Mr Johnson had grown ‘weary’ of the dog because it defecated in their Downing Street flat Mr Cummings said he told Mr Johnson on March 12 there were ‘big problems coming’ if measures to tackle coronavirus were not announced immediately.

But rather than focusing on Covid, the Government was consumed with a potential bombing campaign in the Middle East at the request of Donald Trump and the ‘trivial’ story about the dog, he added.

‘It sounds so surreal [that it] couldn’t possibly be true… that day… the Prime Minister’s girlfriend was going completely crackers about this story and demanding the press office deal with that,’ said Mr Cummings.

‘So we had this sort of completely insane situation in which part of the building was saying ‘Are we going to bomb Iraq?’ Part of the building was arguing about whether or not we’re going to do quarantine or not do quarantine. The Prime Minister has his girlfriend going crackers about something completely trivial.’ At the time, Miss Symonds dismissed the story, tweeting: ‘Total load of c***. There has never been a happier, healthier and more loved dog than Dilyn.’

Carrie Symonds was so incensed by the story in the Times about Dilyn that she took to Twitter to claim it was ‘total c**p’

Mr Cummings said that last summer his relationship with Mr Johnson got ‘worse and worse’ as the Prime Minister was not listening to him on Covid and ‘his girlfriend [was] desperate to get rid of me and all my team’.

By the end of October their ‘relations were essentially already finished’ and ‘the fact that his girlfriend also wanted rid of me was relevant but not the heart the problem’. Mr Cummings added: ‘The heart of the problem was fundamentally I regarded him as unfit for the job.’

A spokesman for Miss Symonds declined to comment.

The other aides Cummings said ‘saved the day’… or panicked during the pandemic 

The Warnertron’s ‘ethical’ older AI expert brother, who Dominic Cummings insists saved ‘thousands of lives’ despite Boris denying him the ‘kingly authority’ to lead pandemic response 

Marc Warner should have been in charge of the response, Cummings claimed

Dominic Cummings praised Ben Warner’s brother Marc, an AI expert and millionaire businessman, as a hero who saved ‘thousands of lives’. 

He said Mr Warner should have been given ‘kingly authority’ to run Covid response – but this was refused. He insisted his work with tech companies saved thousands of lives.

He said: ‘Marc Warner is one of the most ethical people I’ve met. If I’d been Prime Minister I would have said Marc Warner is in charge of this whole thing. He speaks with my authority. He has as close to kingly authority as the state has legally to do stuff, and pushing the barriers of legality.’ 

He said he had a meeting with advisers Ben and Marc Warner around 9pm ‘when they kind of hit the total panic button with me and they said: ‘We’re looking at all this data, we’re looking at all of these graphs, we’re heading for a total catastrophe and we need to have Plan B.”

Mr Cummings said that on the evening of March 13 it was realised that a meeting would need to be held with Mr Johnson to explain ‘we’re going to have to ditch the whole official plan, we’re heading for the biggest disaster this country has seen since 1914’. 

‘We’re absolutely f***ed, we’re going to kill thousands’, PM’s aide declared in pandemic panic inside No 10

Helen MacNamara arrived at the Prime Minister’s office and declared: ‘We’re absolutely f*****’

Giving evidence to the Commons Health and Social Care, and Science and Technology Committees, Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s former aide used the phrase ‘absolutely f***ed’.

Mr Cummings was recalling a conversation he had about the Government’s initial response to the pandemic with Helen MacNamara, the then deputy cabinet secretary.

He said: ‘Helen MacNamara said”I’ve come through here to the Prime Minister’s office to tell you all I think we are absolutely f*****.

”I think this country is headed for a disaster, I think we’re going to kill thousands of people.”

Mr Cummings’ words were broadcast on the BBC News channel, prompting a newsreader to say: ‘I just want to apologise there if any of the language Dominic Cummings has used has offended you.

‘It is live, of course, this committee hearing that we are watching.’

Sky News also broadcast the language, with broadcaster Adam Boulton telling viewers: ‘We are listening to evidence from the former adviser to Boris Johnson and we apologise for the language used in quoting an official visiting Downing Street.’

Mark Sweeney, a senior aide to the PM, reportedly said: ‘There is no plan, we are in huge trouble’

PM’s top domestic policy advisor warned: ‘There is no plan, we are in huge trouble’

Mark Sweeney, Director General, Cabinet Secretariat in the Cabinet Office, was also dragged into evidence. 

Dominic Cummings said Mr Sweeney was panicked by Government policy on Covid.

Quoting deputy Cabinet Secretary Helen McNamara, he said she had been talking to Mr Sweeney, who was in charge with coordinating with the Department of Health, and he said: ‘I have been told for years that there is a plan for this, there is no plan, we are in huge trouble.’ 

‘The Mr Big of Brexit’ drafted in to lead Britain’s pandemic response

Respected mandarin Tom Shinner (pictured) quit last year but was hailed as a hero by Dominic Cummings

The civil servant drafted in to run Britain’s pandemic response came after Dominic Cummings begged him to quit his job and work in No 10.

He was named by Mr Cummings as one of the heroes of the pandemic.

Respected mandarin Tom Shinner announced his departure in the wake of the Covid-19 crisis last year.

Once dubbed ‘the Mr Big of Brexit’, Mr Shinner had returned to the Government in April 2020, having left for the private sector after leading cross-Government preparations for a potential No Deal exit from the EU.

No 10 insiders insisted that Mr Shinner’s job was only a temporary secondment and the response to the pandemic was beginning to ‘wind down’.

One friend said he was contractually obliged to return to his job at a startup.

But a Whitehall source said: ‘There is a uneasy feeling in the building that those directly involved in the past few months are making themselves scarce before the inevitable post-mortem.’

Cummings’ ally ‘Sonic’ who hacked together a ‘shielding plan’ in two all-nighters 

Oliver Lewis is another Vote Leave member to now work in No10, went in a bonfire of aides last year

Dominic Cummings criticised Whitehall for having no plan for shielding, economic support or testing ahead of the pandemic.

But he said that his friend and colleague Oliver Lewis, a Brexit expert he nicknamed ‘Sonic’, saved the day.   

Before the pandemic, Oxford-educated Mr Lewis has been working closely with Michael Gove on No Deal preparations, and was inspired by Mr Cummings’ love of science to construct an enormous spreadsheet to model difference scenarios styled on techniques used by NASA. 

He has also worked closely alongside chief Brexit negotiator David Frost, and earlier this year was accused by EU sources of repeatedly trying to shut down negotiations

He helped sort shielding policy, according to Mr Cummings. The former chief aide to the Prime Minister told the Commons committee: ‘On shielding, on March 19, I pulled all the officials in on shielding to say where is the plan on shielding?

‘Not only was there not a plan, lots of people in the Cabinet Office said we shouldn’t have a plan, we shouldn’t put out a helpline for people to call because it will all just be swamped and we don’t have a system.

‘The shielding plan was literally hacked together in two all-nighters after the 19th, I think, Thursday the 19th.

‘There wasn’t any plan for shielding, there wasn’t even a helpline for shielding, there wasn’t any plan for financial incentives, there wasn’t any plan for almost anything in any kind of detail at all.’ 

Sir Patrick Vallance ‘deserves absolutely massive, enormous credit’ for setting up the Vaccine Taskforce 

Chief scientific adviser Sir Patrick Vallance at Downing Street on Wednesday last week

Dominic Cummings has said chief scientific adviser Sir Patrick Vallance ‘deserves absolutely massive, enormous credit’ for his role in setting up the Vaccine Taskforce.

He told MPs: ‘I’ve got a text from Patrick Vallance, when he texted me directly on I think March 24, I could confirm that if anyone things it’s relevant, where he says explicitly to me I want to set up the Vaccine Taskforce and do it outside the Department of Health.’

Mr Cummings continued: ‘I and some other people were having parallel conversation with others round about the same time, and then essentailly Patrick and I both spoke to the Cabinet Secretary about it.’

The deal between Oxford, AZ and the Government was done before the Vaccine Taskforce was set up, and Mr Cummings said: ‘My memory of it is that Patrick Vallance was instrumental in it.’

He continued: ‘Patrick, before he came into Government, worked in the private sector working literally on vaccines. So he understood and actually knew a lot of the key players involved.

‘Certainly my conversations on the AZ vaccine were with Patrick and there was at one point a terrible fright that Department for Health was about to sign a duff contract on AZ which would not have given us the rights to the vaccine, or would have left them questionable, and Patrick intervened and sorted it out and made sure that the contract worked out properly, thank goodness.

‘So I think Patrick deserves absolutely massive, enormous credit for his role in the Vaccine Taskforce, there’s no doubt about it. As far as I’m aware, he’s the first senior official who came up with the idea.’

Mr Cummings also told MPs that he did not attend early Cobra meetings but had one-to-one briefings with chief medical officer Professor Chris Whitty and Sir Patrick instead.

He said this was because Cobra meetings were known to be the source of leaks to the press.

Mr Cummings said: ‘Bear in mind one of the huge problems we had throughout was things leaking and creating chaos in the media.’

Sir Patrick said in March 2020 that 20,000 deaths would be a good outcome. Soon after, a worst-case scenario prepared by government scientific advisers put the possible death toll at 50,000. The toll is now at more than 127,000. 

Kate Bingham had ‘strength of character not to be pushed around’

Kate Bingham, pictured in New York in 2018

Dominic Cummings praised Kate Bingham’s work with the Vaccine Taskforce, saying she had the ‘strength of character not to be pushed around’.

He added that Ms Bingham, who was the first head of the UK Vaccine Taskforce, reported directly to the Prime Minister rather than the Department for Health.

Mr Cummings said: ‘Lots of people have expressed concerns to me that since Kate Bingham has left… there hasn’t been the aggressive approach some in government want to think through variants and Vaccine Taskforce.’

He added: ‘I think fundamentally on vaccines there was clear responsibility, there was someone who was actually in charge of it, Kate Bingham, she was working with Patrick Vallance.

‘She built a team who actually understood what they were doing and she had the kind of strength of character not to be pushed around. 

‘We had a formal thing that was ‘You’re in charge of it, you report directly to the PM, don’t report to the Department of Health’ so she knew who her boss was on it. 

‘We also said to her, treat this like a wartime thing, ignore rules, if lawyers get in your way come to us, we’ll find ways of bulldozing them out of your way.’

Asked about negative briefings made against Ms Bingham to the media last autumn, he added that he thought this had actually come from the Department of Health, not Downing Street.

Ms Bingham, who became known as the ‘vaccine tsar’, was a high-flying biotech venture capitalist whom Boris Johnson personally appointed as the VTF’s chairman, with a simple brief of: ‘Save lives’.

Sir Jeremy Farrar and his team were allowed to ‘get on with it’

Sir Jeremy Farrar, a Government adviser and director of the Wellcome Trust

Sir Jeremy Farrar, a Government adviser and director of the Wellcome Trust, was praised by Dominic Cummings today for his role in the Covid-19 recovery trial for being allowed to ‘get on with it’.

The recovery trial, which has been respected around the world, is a national clinical trial aiming to identify treatments that may be beneficial for adults hospitalised with confirmed coronavirus.

Asked about why the recovery trial had been a success, Mr Cummings told MPs: ‘Clear responsibility. Some great people in charge. This guy called Jeremy Farrar who played a critical role in it.

He continued: ‘Part of my job is I know far more about the things that go wrong, if you know what I mean, than things that went right.

‘If things seemed to be going right and people were saying that’s OK, I had so many other things to deal with that I kind of didn’t really go into it, so the recovery trials, I don’t really know very much about because people just said it seems to be going well.

‘I only got involved with Jeremy Farrar if he called me up and said I’ve hit the following problem. Otherwise I just kind of let people get on with it.’

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