Brexit hardliners leaving Downing Street

A few days after the resignation of Boris Johnson's director of communications Lee Cain his chief adviser Dominic Cummings also has left. Just a few weeks before the Brexit transition phase ends, two longtime companions of Johnson's - both of whom are considered staunch Brexiteers - are leaving Downing Street. Does this bode well for a deal with the EU?

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Deutschlandfunk (DE) /

London hasn't been this constructive for a long time

The upheavals in Downing Street also have to do with Joe Biden's victory in Washington, Deutschlandfunk believes:

“The next US president is not a populist, but a man of values. A liberal who wants to make politics with and not against America's allies all over the world. Boris Johnson's brutish Brexit policy, his breaches of treaty and word, his loose mouth: Joe Biden finds all this anything but funny. And Johnson knows that soon he won't be laughing anymore either if he carries on as before. So the versatile British head of government is trying to pull off what he's always been good at: a U-turn. Since Biden's election victory, there hasn't been a bad word from Boris Johnson about the EU. Instead, he's fuelling hopes for a trade agreement with the Europeans. We haven't seen London being this peaceful and constructive for a long time.”

The Irish Times (IE) /

The most rabid Brexiteer is still in charge

Cummings' departure doesn't make a deal with the EU any more likely, Irish Times believes:

“Hope that the latest abrupt staff shuffle in Downing Street could be a sign that Prime Minister Boris Johnson is clearing the decks of obstacles that might obstruct him from doing a last-minute deal in the Brexit talks is dismissed by observers in London as wishful thinking. ... Yet Johnson is not said to take much prodding on Europe with some describing him as Downing Street's most rabid Brexiteer. The talks on the future relationship, which resume next week, need a significant push from the impulsive Johnson. .... But that may not be forthcoming and the prospects of a deal are in the balance.”

Handelsblatt (DE) /

Johnson ushering in a new phase

It is perhaps no coincidence that the tensions in Downing Street are coming to a head, Handelsblatt's London correspondent Carsten Volkery speculates:

“In Johnson's entourage people are evidently beginning to see that a new beginning is necessary - and that this also requires consequences at the staffing level. Some conservative MPs are already hoping for a cleansing storm that will sweep away the rest of the Brexit hardliners after Cain's departure. Johnson had the chance to fire his chief advisor in the spring, after he broke the lockdown rules. Back then, he held onto Cummings because he thought he was indispensable. Once Brexit is completed, however, Johnson could reassess the situation - and usher in the next phase of his mandate.”

The Guardian (GB) /

High time for more competence

Johnson should put together a better team as soon as possible, The Guardian urges:

“Leaving the EU is a complex economic and geostrategic shift that would place a terrible administrative burden on the most competent government. Mr Johnson is not well suited temperamentally to that task, but he could at least employ people who are. The current Downing Street operation is unfit for the challenge it faces, and as a result the country is unready. It is not too late for Mr Johnson to make drastic changes to salvage something of a reputation for elementary administrative capability, but time is running out.”