With Downing Street reeling from a bitter row between Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s fiancee and his former top adviser Dominic Cummings, Sunday’s newspapers have offered extraordinary details of chaos reigning behind the scenes.
Following Cummings’ dramatic Downing Street exit earlier this week, Sunday’s newspapers promised to make for juicy reading as competing factions battled to push their version of events to the fore.
The front page of tomorrow’s Sunday Telegraph:’Downing St slams ‘vicious and cowardly’ attacks on Symonds’#tomorrowspaperstodayhttps://t.co/e66vVDorklpic.twitter.com/XKNT4AIFrt
The gossip-hungry stalwarts of the UK media delivered on that promise with miles of column inches detailing blazing rows, tantrums and teary breakdowns.
The Sunday Times characterized the bust-up as “Four dinners and a political funeral.” The paper reported that, during one meal, Johnson was persuaded by his fiancee, Carrie Symonds, and his new press secretary, Allegra Stratton, to ditch his Brexit “buccaneer” persona and revert to being the “consensual figure” who was twice elected mayor of London.
Sources also told the Times that Symonds calls Johnson’s private office “more than 20 times a day demanding that he leave meetings to call her back.”
Another meal saw Johnson cook sausages and mashed potato with his now-outgoing director of communications Lee Cain. The prime minister reportedly told Cain to remember his “duty” to the country and urged him to stay with him through the coronavirus crisis.
The Sun on Sunday has a different version of events for what transpired during the “tasty” lunch. Under the headline “Bangers ‘n’ clash,” it reported that Johnson offered Cain the position of chief of staff. However, it ended in a “squabble” after Symonds accused Cain of orchestrating a smear campaign against her. The Sun said Cain had his sausages and was “kicked out for telling porkies.”
Similar reports are carried in the Sunday Mirror, which says Johnson’s relationship with Cain and Cummings was irreparably damaged when it emerged that the Cummings’ faction in Number 10 used the phrase “Princess Nut Nuts” as a “cruel nickname” for Johnson’s fiancee.
Tomorrow’s front page: Princess Nut Nuts #tomorrowspaperstodayhttps://t.co/tVsArEOU7Ppic.twitter.com/vwqaI5dgSX
When the prime minister learned of the gag, he is said to have “flipped.” The paper emblazoned the nickname on its frontpage.
The Mail on Sunday cast a caustic eye over the week’s dramatic events. “What a way to run the country,” it said as it offered a breakdown of the “hatreds, tears and tantrums.”
Fleet Street also turned its attention to Stratton, who is widely reported to be an ally of Symonds. Friends of the ex-BBC journalist told the Observer that Downing Street’s new press secretary spent Saturday morning in tears because she believes Cain told “numerous journalists” that she was not the first choice for the role.
OBSERVER: Attacks by PM’s ousted aide left PM’s new press chief in tears #TomorrowsPapersTodaypic.twitter.com/vNWXyvWX0P
Stratton, who was appointed last month, was also forced to defend her Conservative credentials. She has told the Sunday Telegraph that despite previously voting for Labour, the Green Party and the Liberal Democrats, she backed Brexit and labeled herself “a Johnson Tory.”
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