What really happened on night Boris Johnson was accused of outburst
Mr Johnson hated the idea. Two weeks earlier, he told the Commons he wanted to “avoid the misery” of another lockdown, which he said would be a “disaster” for the economy. He is reported to have told the Oct 30 meeting that he had not gone into Downing Street “to shut down the economy”, but he had been totally isolated by his ministers and advisers, leaving him with little choice but to climb down.
Mr Gove confirmed to MPs for the first time on Monday that Mr Johnson did agree to a second lockdown during the meeting, which suggests the “chatty rat” leaked the news to prevent him from changing his mind rather than to force him into a decision.
As history will record, the Prime Minister did press ahead with the second lockdown – which had to be announced in a hastily-arranged press conference on Oct 31, days earlier than intended – and, despite his alleged outburst about “no more —-ing lockdowns”, he later ordered a third.
Not for the first time this month, he has found himself being criticised for what others claim he thought – or said – rather than what he did. George Orwell might have described them as thoughtcrimes.
So who is behind the current campaign against the Prime Minister, and why?
The name that looms largest over the affair is that of Dominic Cummings, once the most trusted member of Mr Johnson’s inner circle but now a man with scores to settle, having been forced out of Downing Street following a power struggle with the PM’s fiancee, Carrie Symonds, and former press secretary Allegra Stratton.
By the time of the Oct 30 meeting, Mr Cummings and Lee Cain, then the Prime Minister’s director of communications, were already fighting for their jobs. Within two weeks of the meeting, both had been forced out.
Last week Mr Cummings was accused of leaking text messages between Mr Johnson and the businessman Sir James Dyson. It prompted him to write a blog refuting the claim, in which months of pent-up resentment also spilled out.