Steve Bannon hails Dominic Cummings and predicts lurch to right for No 10

Architect of Donald Trump’s presidential campaign reveals admiration for Boris Johnson’s aide in interview on dark politics

Steve Bannon, who has previously backed a range of notorious far-right political figures, has publicly endorsed Dominic Cummings for the first time, calling him a “brilliant guy”.

Donald Trump’s former chief strategist also said that Boris Johnson will become an increasingly populist prime minister after jettisoning his political positioning as a “globalist” to “opportunistically jump on Brexit”.

But Bannon, who helped mastermind Trump’s successful bid for the presidency, reserved his highest praise for Johnson’s most senior aide.

“A brilliant guy. I think Cummings is very smart where he puts his efforts. What I like about him is he has the ability to focus on the main things,” Bannon said, hailing the Downing Street strategist for his role in Brexit and Johnson’s 2019 election triumph.

The comments were made during interviews for a book to be published on Thursday which investigates how unaccountable money, lobbying and data has reshaped British politics.

Written by Open Democracy journalist Peter Geoghegan, Democracy for Sale documents how dark money has corrupted the democratic system and features several interviews with Bannon, although his comments on Cummings – made earlier this year – came too late for inclusion.

Bannon has fostered extensive links to global far-right nationalist movements in an attempt to unite “the Judeo-Christian West”. He has also described UK Islamophobe Tommy Robinson as the “backbone” of Britain, defended Viktor Orbán, Hungary’s nationalist prime minister, and praised anti-immigration French politician Marine Le Pen, among others.

However, Bannon refused to say if he is currently advising the UK’s prime minister or has met Cummings. Last year evidence emerged suggesting close links between Johnson and the man who led Trump’s 2016 campaign. Bannon even claimed to have crafted speeches for the prime minister.

The interviews throw up key similarities between Bannon and Cummings. Chief among them is the desire to reform the UK civil service. Bannon advocates demolishing it entirely, arguing the “administrative state needs to be taken apart brick by brick”.

Dismantling the UK civil service is one of Cummings primary ambitions. At the end of June its head,Mark Sedwill, quit with Cummings reportedly then telling colleagues that “a hard rain is coming” for the service.

Another common theme emerges with Bannon’s views on Brexit. “There is one choice: hard out, no deal. It won’t be disruptive,” says Bannon, who was fired as a top adviser to Trump in 2017 following white supremacist protests in Charlottesville, Virginia.

Cummings is believed to have privately championed a no-deal outcome and the EU’s chief negotiator recently revealed that the two sides were “still far away” from agreement with less than three months to go before a 31 October deadline.

Dominic Cummings’ role in Brexit and the 2019 general election result has been praised by Breitbart founder Steve Bannon.
Dominic Cummings’ role in Brexit and the 2019 general election result has been praised by Breitbart founder Steve Bannon. Photograph: Luke Dray/Getty Images

Bannon urges Johnson to focus more on manufacturing rather than ensuring that Britain resembles a “Singapore on the Thames”, shorthand for a low-tax, lightly regulated economy.

Politically, Bannon sees Johnson moving ever further to the right, developing “more economic nationalistic tendencies” and predicting that “Boris will adapt his policies to become more populist over time”.

The former investment banker also says that by studying the reaction to previous financial crashes he knew there would be an inevitable populist rising following the 2007-2008 crisis.

Bannon says he began visiting the UK frequently in 2013 and meeting individuals like Ukip leader Nigel Farage and his supporters James Delingpole and Raheem Kassam, who would both be hired by Bannon to work for a British version of the rightwing news site Breitbart.

Bannon also says he spent time meeting members of the Young Britons’ Foundation, described by some as a “Tory madrasa” used to teach young Conservatives the “dark arts” of politics.

Bannon said that during 2014 he noticed the supporters on Farage’s campaign trial for the European elections were similarly angry to US protesters during the recession after the financial crash. “They were the exact Tea Party crowds of 2010, where we had had this huge populist revolt,” he said.

Sensing the public mood, Johnson and Cummings came on board with Vote Leave, the official campaign to leave the EU.

“Guys like Boris and Dominic Cummings came and they were very important but they were quite late to the party,” said Bannon, whose Breitbart resolutely backed the campaign to leave the EU.

On the day that article 50 was triggered, Farage was filmed with a pint of beer thanking Bannon and Breitbart. “You helped with this. Hugely,” he said.

Bannon also admits that he briefly met Aaron Banks, the insurance businessman who co-founded the pro-Brexit Leave.EU campaign.

Contributor

Mark Townsend

The GuardianTramp

Related Content

Article image
Farage: Bannon plan could help populists to EU election victory
Ex-Ukip leader predicts sweeping advances for anti-EU parties in May 2019

Mark Townsend Home affairs editor

29, Jul, 2018 @7:00 AM

Article image
Steve Bannon: ‘We went back and forth’ on the themes of Johnson’s big speech
In a London hotel, the far-right activist told how he had exchanged texts with the former foreign secretary on his big resignation speech

Carole Cadwalladr

22, Jun, 2019 @8:04 PM

Article image
Judge orders Ukip to reveal Brexit referendum data use
Party must show how it spent £300,000 on data services in run-up to 2016 vote and 2015 election

Robert Verkaik and Emma Graham-Harrison

14, Apr, 2019 @7:29 AM

Article image
I am a committed Leaver. But I believe Dominic Cummings should resign
This is not political. The adviser’s behaviour created a moral issue, says a prominent Conservative MP

Peter Bone

31, May, 2020 @8:04 AM

Article image
Europe’s leaders to force Britain into hard Brexit
Fears grow about impact of populist surge as Nigel Farage predicts Marine Le Pen could win French presidential election

Toby Helm Observer political editor

19, Nov, 2016 @10:03 PM

Article image
PM ‘must launch urgent inquiry into Dominic Cummings’s reign of terror’
Ex-civil service chiefs join critics of Boris Johnson’s aide as protests against ‘coup’ spread across UK

Toby Helm & Mark Townsend

01, Sep, 2019 @7:35 AM

Article image
No-deal fears rise as Boris Johnson 'least willing to budge on Brexit'
The prime minister remains determined not to compromise over the terms of Britain’s exit from the European Union, say senior Whitehall sources

Michael Savage

15, Nov, 2020 @7:45 AM

Article image
#FreeTommy – the making of a far-right English ‘martyr’
A jail term has made the ex-English Defence League leader Tommy Robinson a US-backed ‘victim of the liberal elite’

Mark Townsend

29, Jul, 2018 @7:00 AM

Article image
Dominic Cummings: If Leave had lost Brexit vote, I’d have queried result as invalid
Boris Johnson aide wrote to data watchdog in 2017 complaining electoral system was ‘wide open to abuse’

Carole Cadwalladr and Mark Townsend

14, Dec, 2019 @7:01 PM

Article image
Thirty things you didn't know about the EU referendum
A review of five of the best EU referendum books offers up some surprising insights into the campaigns and landmark vote

Andrew Sparrow

22, Dec, 2016 @9:00 AM