Dominic Cummings' ally Cleo Watson quits No10

More evidence of changing of the guard at No10 as Dominic Cummings’ ally Cleo Watson quits after he was ousted in brutal power struggle

  • Dominic Cummings’ ally Cleo Watson is latest Vote Leave veteran to leave No10 
  • Was known as ‘Cummings whisperer’ but not seen as involved in power struggle
  • Boris Johnson struggling to ‘reset’ his premiership after extraordinary infighting 

There was more evidence of a changing of the guard at Downing Street today as another close ally of Dominic Cummings followed him out of the door.

Special adviser Cleo Watson is understood to have handed in her resignation yesterday, a fortnight after the maverick No10 chief departed.

The exit underlines the waning hold of Vote Leave veterans over the heart of government, as Boris Johnson tries to ‘reset’ his premiership. 

Ms Watson worked on the Brexit campaign before joining the No10 operation under Theresa May, and taking a more senior role when Mr Johnson became PM.

Although the 31-year-old’s official title is head of of the PM’s Priorities and Campaigns, she has been known as the ‘the Cummings whisperer’ due to her reputed ability to calm him down.

The pair were regularly seen walking into Downing Street together in the mornings, with Ms Watson’s smart appearance in stark contrast to Mr Cummings’ shambolic style.

There had been hopes that Ms Watson would opt to stay on in her post, as she was not regarded as being deeply involved in the extraordinary civil war. 

Special adviser Cleo Watson (pictured with Dominic Cummings earlier this month) is understood to have handed in her resignation yesterday, a fortnight after the maverick No10 chief departed

Ms Watson (pictured yesterday) worked on the Brexit campaign before joining the No10 operation under Theresa May, and taking a more senior role when Mr Johnson became PM

The arrival of Cleo Watson and Dominic Cummings at No10 had been a regular staple for photographers.

Highlighting the contrast between her smart dress and his disheveled style, wags had likened the sight to ‘a gazelle with a pit pony’.

Ms Watson was Cummings’ special adviser and the pair share a close relationship, with one Whitehall source describing her as ‘the Cummings whisperer’ because she was one of few people who could calm him down.

The 31-year old is one of five high-achieving sisters. 

She is the second of her siblings to work closely with a Tory leader. 

Her sister Annabel, 41, known as Bee, was Theresa May’s Chief of Staff. 

Watson worked with Vote Leave during the 2016 EU referendum, before landing a top job in the policy unit in No 10 during May’s premiership. 

She remained at the heart of Government under Johnson and now boasts the title of ‘Head of the Prime Minister’s Priorities and Campaigns’. 

Mr Johnson yesterday moved to shore up his team by appointing a former Treasury official who advised George Osborne as his new chief of staff.

The PM has recruited Dan Rosenfield for the key job in the wake of the extraordinary civil war that saw Mr Cummings and his right-hand man Lee Cain depart. 

Mr Rosenfield will take over in the role from the New Year, as Mr Johnson looks to ‘reset’ his premiership, with former colleagues describing the Manchester United fan as a ‘bright, tough and politically savvy’ economic expert from outside the Westminster bubble. 

The PM’s director of communications Lee Cain, a key ally of Mr Cummings, was said to have been offered the chief of staff post earlier this month. 

But he then dramatically quit after an apparent power struggle between the Vote Leave faction in No10, and Mr Johnson’s fiancee Carrie Symonds and new press secretary Allegra Stratton, who opposed Mr Cain’s appointment.

Days later Mr Cummings dramatically left through the front door in the full glare of cameras, although he is thought to be working from home until Christmas on the ‘Operation Moonshot’ testing project. 

Mr Rosenfield, a father-of-three married to Jessica, the daughter of Daily Mail City Editor Alex Brummer, will return to Whitehall from Hakluyt, a strategic advisory firm for businesses and investors, where he has worked since 2016. 

He is also chairman of World Jewish Relief, the British Jewish community’s humanitarian agency.

Previously he was a director at Bank of America Merrill Lynch for four years after leaving his last government job in 2011.

Before that Mr Rosenfield was an official in the UK Treasury for over a decade, including four years as principal private secretary to Alistair Darling and George Osborne from 2007 to 2011. 

In that time he was involved in setting the budget for London 2012 after the city’s Olympic bid win in 2005.

Mr Rosenfield will start on December 7, but Lord Udny-Lister will continue to serve as acting chief of staff until January 1. 

He is also chairman of World Jewish Relief, the British Jewish community’s humanitarian agency.  


The PM has appointed Dan Rosenfield to the key chief of staff job at Downing Street in the wake of the extraordinary row that saw Mr Cummings depart

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