The government is secretly being run by a senior civil servant, according to claims by Michael Gove’s ex aide Dominic Cummings. Sir Jeremy Haywood, who was Tony Blair’s principle private secretary between 1999 and 2003 is said to have Prime Minister David Cameron “by the balls”, according to Cummings. The claim came during a scathing attack by Cummings in which he accused the Cameron administration of incompetence.
“Everyone knows that Jeremy Heywood is in charge of everything,” Mr Cummings said, according to the Daily Mail. “Jeremy Heywood is more important than anyone in the Cabinet apart from Cameron or Osborne – and is arguably more important than Osborne. He sits right next to the Prime Minister, has him completely by the balls and Cameron doesn’t do anything without Heywood’s permission.”
Heywood, who on a salary of nearly £200,000 a year earns more than the Prime Minister, was placed second in GQ’s list of 100 Most Influential Men last year, behind London Mayor Boris Johnson but ahead of David Cameron, who once joked: “Remind me, Jeremy, do you work for me or do I work for you?”
He was described by the magazine as being “in the spiritual vein of Sir Humphrey Appleby [the senior civil servant in the classic satire ‘Yes Minister’] but as the senior civil servant in both the cabinet office and Number Ten, Heywood has a reach the likes of which Appleby could only dream,” and “the most powerful civil servant in decades; … he has retained all influence he had in his previous job at Number Ten and added the cabinet office to his domain.”
He was also nicknamed “Sir Cover-up” after successfully managing to keep letters and records of phone calls between Mr Blair and Mr Bush away from the Iraq War inquiry.
Cumming’s didn’t reserve his ire only for Haywood, he also turned his guns on Mr Cameron’s closest aides, who he dismissed as “totally and utterly useless,” although he blamed Cameron for their incompetence, for having awarded them the positions in the first place.
Speaking at the Institute for Public Policy Research, Cummings said: “I don’t think in lots of ways it matters what happens in the election. Whether it is Cameron or Miliband who gets in, neither of them know how to prioritise, neither can build a serious team, they’re both surrounded by these dysfunctional teams.
“They don’t know how to get anything done, neither has had experience in any organisation watching someone who knows how to get things done in a real alpha organisation that’s well managed.”
He described how Number 10 works in very short time-frames, only strategically planning ten days ahead at most, and more often than not, at just 48 to 72 hours ahead. “There is no long-term priority,” he said. “There is no long-term plan. The central people operate in that kind of culture, they don’t think anything can change. They just think that is politics.
“His most important advisers are [chief of staff] Ed Llewellyn and [director of communications] Craig Oliver – both of them are totally and utterly useless. It is not their fault. They are just in the wrong job. The fault lies in Cameron putting them there.
“If you have a prime minister who has no sense of priorities and cannot manage his way out of a paper bag, and his two chief advisers who don’t know what they are doing… of course it’s going to be a farce.”
Mr Cummings was Michael Gove’s special adviser, but resigned in January. He now describes himself as “very happily unemployed”.