Boris Johnson must tell Dominic Cummings and Carrie Symonds that he alone is PM – Bernard Ingham

IN my self-appointed role as Early Warning Officer to Boris Johnson, I cannot help saying “I told you so”.

I told you repeatedly through this column that Dominic Cummings was no good for you.

I told you your communications system was nothing to write home about.

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And if you had taken the slightest bit of notice, you would never have contemplated introducing a televised spokesman role for Allegra Stratton straight out of the White House’s West Wing.

Have you lost faith on Boris Johnson following a series of scandals?

To repeat: we are a Parliamentary democracy.

Indeed, Westminster is the Mother of Parliaments.

Ministers should report to Parliament not an official to the media at a televised press conference.

Why on earth should we want to copy the American presidential system?

Boris Johnson took time out to eat an ice cream during a visit to Wales as he becomes embroiled in a series of controversies.

I don’t know why I bother.

Now Cummings is gone but not forgotten. Indeed, he is waging war on you by blog.

You seem unable to keep a chief press secretary or whatever they call them these days.

The turnover is alarming.

Boris Johnson's former aide Dominic Cummings.

First, Lee Cain and now James Slack, neither of whom was exactly a household name or distinguished themselves in view of the mess.

And Ms Stratton has been farmed out to the team preparing for the UN environment conference (COP26) in Glasgow in November wherein lies more trouble that I will come to later.

Worse still, you raided the taxpayer of £2.6m to create a White House-style briefing studio in No 9 Downing Street at a time when you were under attack – as you still are – for the exorbitant cost of giving your flat in No 11 a facelift.

I can’t help saying that I warned that you were in danger of seeming spendthrift, having run up a £300bn deficit fighting Covid-19.

Just to show that No 10 troubles never come singly, the Opposition is now trying to paint you and your Government as sleazy with the willing help of one Mr Cummings.

You and your Ministers may have done a brilliant job in already vaccinating roughly half the population against Covid but don’t assume that is infallible insurance against the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune that come the way of No 10.

Once they – the media, Opposition or your own ruthless side – get their knife into you, they love turning it.

It’s what comes naturally in politics.

You should take the efforts to portray your fiancée, Carrie Symonds, as the one who wears the trousers in No 10 as a serious warning of trouble to come.

In short, No 10 looks to be a fairly accurate reflection of its untidily hirsute elected incumbent.

Bright but not exactly wise, cavalier, disorganised, shambling and busking it too often.

It has never appeared to be a happy ship, even now that Cummings is no longer trying to dismantle the machine from the inside.

Why, Lee Cain, ex-press secretary, complains he was called an “oik” for being a Northerner with a shaved head.

I can only say that, as a red-haired Yorkshireman with a short fuse, Margaret Thatcher’s lot generally integrated me into the team, even though I went there with a reputation for “bullying” Ministers.

It is, of course, possible that, as one who needed an argument every six hours to keep the blood circulating, she welcomed the inevitable forthrightness of anyone brought up in old Hebden Bridge.

We were a happy bunch – as press officers still testify – and had a lot of fun.

That matters. No 10 cannot afford to be in a mutinous condition.

It is the ultimate repository of every problem and every PM needs to know he can rely on his crew to help him steer the ship between Scylla and Charybdis.

My advice to Boris today is to sort out No 10 quickly.

It would help if you would dispense with your mobile phone and let others do your emailing, bearing in mind the leaking going on and the warning sounded by that obsessive member of the Twitterati – President Trump.

Discipline should start at the top.

When it doesn’t, trouble looms.

You should never forget that your party gives short shrift to a PM they think is a loser.

You may be a lucky PM – for example Brexit and AstraZeneca – but don’t count on your luck lasting.

Ms Stratton, for example, should be telling you about the pitfalls in your new-found greenery which you claim will be good for jobs.

It won’t be if the lights go out and the economy left a bigger wreck.

But that is the danger in going green instead of being a practical but economically sound environmentalist at this critical time.