Dominic Cummings is appearing in front of MPs for the first time since leaving Downing Street - here’s why

By Iain Leggat
Wednesday, 17th March 2021, 11:20 am
Updated Wednesday, 17th March 2021, 11:20 am
Dominic Cummings is appearing in front of MPs for the first time since leaving Downing Street - here’s why (Photo by Hollie Adams/Getty Images)

Dominic Cummings is set to make his first public appearance since leaving Downing Street with the former chief adviser scheduled to be questioned by MPs over the Government's new “high risk” scientific research agency.

Cummings, who quit as Boris Johnson’s chief aide in December last year, will appear in front of the Commons Science and Technology Committee this morning (17 Mar).

The committee will be chaired by Tory MP Greg Clark - the former cabinet minister whom Cummings allegedly launched a foul mouthed attack against in 2019 - ahead of a key Brexit vote.

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Cummings will give evidence on the Advanced Research & Invention Agency (ARIA), an agency he is seen as the architect of, and which has had concerns of a lack of transparency. The agency will award experts £800 million of funding to identify and fund research involving “high risk, high-reward” science and will have independence from the Government.

ARIA was announced in February, and is based on models seen in other countries, including the US Advanced Research Projects Agency.

What happened to Dominic Cummings?

Dominic Cummings shot into political notoriety after being the chief architect of Vote Leave’s successful campaign during the 2016 Brexit referendum.

Known for his abrasive approach, Cummings was appointed as chief adviser to Prime Minister Boris Johnson in July 2019.

The chief adviser had a contentious relationship with several MPs, including former Chancellor Sajid Javid, who resigned in February 2020 after he refused to comply with Cummings’s request to dismiss his special advisers.

Cummings was thrust into the public spotlight last summer, and held his own press conference at Downing Street, following a controversial trip with his family to the north of England, despite a ban on non-essential travel at the time.

In a statement to the press on 25 May 2020, the political adviser spoke at length of his round trip from London to his parents’ estate in Durham during the lockdown.

At the time, Cummings said he had acted “responsibly, legally and with integrity", and on 28 May, Durham police said they did not consider an offence to have been committed.

The controversy of the trip caused a public outcry, with calls for his resignation after what appeared to be a blatant disregard for the rules from Cummings.

He eventually left his role in Downing Street in November, following the departure of his long time ally Lee Cain, Downing Street Director of Communications.