Michael Gove has been accused of orchestrating the removal of the Prime Minister’s chief adviser on the Union in an attempt to retain his position at the heart of Government.
Multiple Whitehall sources have told The Telegraph that Mr Gove, the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, had masterminded Oliver Lewis’s dramatic departure from Downing Street on Friday after becoming concerned he was being sidelined by the Prime Minister.
Mr Lewis, a close ally of Dominic Cummings, resigned from his job as head of Number 10’s Union Unit after just two weeks in the post, following a bitter power struggle with Mr Gove’s supporters that made his position “untenable”, sources claimed.
It is alleged that Carrie Symonds, the Prime Minister’s fiancee, and Henry Newman, another Downing Street adviser, accused Mr Lewis of briefing newspapers that Mr Gove’s influence was waning because he had lost his responsibility for managing relations with the EU to Lord Frost.
Both deny that claim, but it is understood that Mr Johnson did summon Mr Lewis on Thursday to rebuke him for speaking to journalists, something Mr Lewis denies.
Mr Gove’s brief was reduced this week to Union issues and civil service reform after Lord Frost, the architect of Boris Johnson’s Brexit deal, was appointed as a Cabinet minister for EU matters.
It came after Mr Lewis replaced Luke Graham, a Gove supporter and former Tory MP, as head of the Union Unit a fortnight ago. Sources said Mr Gove believed Mr Lewis was also trying to remove responsibility for the Government’s Union strategy from his brief, weakening his role in government.
“The people implementing the policy were moving from the Cabinet Office [Mr Gove’s department] to Number 10,” a source said.
“You’ve got Henry Newman trying to wrest control back. Michael appeared to have his wings clipped a bit by Frost’s movement in, and he appeared to have his wings clipped again two weeks ago with Oliver taking over.”
A different Whitehall source said Mr Gove had disagreed with the new Union strategy designed by Mr Lewis, and had used Mr Newman in Downing Street to block it by forcing his resignation.