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Downing Street Shock as Johnson’s ‘union adviser’ quits after only two weeks

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
In the immediate term Oliver Lewis' sudden departure is bound to undermine the government's resolve in countering Scottish nationalists in May's Holyrood elections

The sudden resignation of Boris Johnson’s “union adviser” has not only shocked the government machine but more important it raises urgent questions about the Tories’ strategy of keeping the fledgling union together.

Oliver Lewis, who is widely described as an ally of former Johnson strategist, the controversial Dominic Cummings, quit after only two weeks on the job.

He only took on the leadership of what is officially known as Downing Street’s “Union unit” earlier this month after replacing the former Scottish MP Luke Graham. 

There was speculation that Graham had been forced out of his role because of under-performance in the face of the increasing strength and momentum of Scottish nationalists ahead of the Holyrood elections in May.

Scotland’s First Minister, and the leader of the Scottish National Party (SNP), Nicola Sturgeon, could barely hide her glee at Lewis’ prompt departure, by deriding “disunity in the Union unit” in a tweet. 

— Nicola Sturgeon (@NicolaSturgeon) February 19, 2021 ">http://

Disunity in the Union unit. Or maybe just despair at realising how threadbare the case for it is. #indyref2

— Nicola Sturgeon (@NicolaSturgeon) February 19, 2021

Meanwhile, the SNP’s Westminster deputy leader, Kirsten Oswald, asserted that the Prime Minister’s “taxpayer-funded anti-independence campaign is completely falling apart”.

“As support for independence grows, the Tories are losing advisers like rats on a sinking ship”, Oswald added.

As the so-called “Union unit” comes under greater ridicule, there is also mounting speculation as to what had triggered Lewis’ rapid departure from his post.

According to Sky News’ deputy political editor, Sam Coates, Lewis had been accused by Downing Street insiders of “leaking unpleasant information” against Cabinet Office Minister, Michael Gove.

However, Lewis’ allies deny the accusation and for his part Lewis has only said that his work in his new role had become “untenable”.

Lewis is a strong ally of intensely controversial former chief strategist Dominic Cummings and has consistently played an important role in the Brexit campaign.

He was the head of research for the Vote Leave campaign during the June 2016 European Union referendum and pursuant to that aided Lord David Frost during the torturous trade negotiations with the EU.

According to the BBC’s political correspondent, Nick Eardley, Lewis’ sudden downfall indicates that “all is not well” in Downing Street.

Eardley claims that Lewis had fallen victim to yet another power struggle in Downing Street after recent changes at the “heart of the government”.

More specifically, Yeardley claims that Lewis had clashed with another special adviser, Henry Newman, who was reportedly “brought into the Number 10 operation” only last week. 

According to Yeardley, Newman is “extremely close” to Johnson’s fiancée, Carrie Symonds.

Beyond the parochial politics of Downing Street, Lewis’ departure can only heighten the UK’s constitutional crisis and it will likely prove to be a shot in the arm for not only Scottish nationalists, but also their ideological compatriots in Wales, in addition to the Irish unity movement in Northern Ireland.





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