Tory MPs demand Dominic Cummings answer questions over defence review

Senior Tory MPs say Dominic Cummings cannot be allowed to ‘run a coach and horses’ through UK’s armed forces as they demand Boris’s chief aide is investigated over his plans for major defence shake up

  • Defence Committee wants PM’s aide Dominic Cummings to answer questions
  • Committee wants to determine extend of aide’s role in major defence review
  • Mr Cummings is said to have been asked twice to give evidence to committee 

Senior MPs have demanded Dominic Cummings submit to questioning about his involvement in a major review of the UK’s defence and security capabilities. 

Tobias Ellwood, the Tory chairman of the Defence Select Committee, said Mr Cummings must not be allowed to drive a ‘coach and horses through our defence architecture’. 

It emerged in July that Mr Cummings, Boris Johnson’s most senior aide, had been given the green light to tour classified sites including MI5, MI6 and the SAS headquarters ahead of the review. 

Mr Ellwood and his committee want to know exactly what role the former Vote Leave maverick is playing in the Integrated Review of foreign policy, defence, security and international development.

The former defence minister is also demanding to know who specifically is in charge of leading the review.          

Dominic Cummings, the PM’s top aide, is facing calls to give evidence to the Defence Select Committee over his role in a review of the UK’s armed forces and security services

Tobias Ellwood, the chairman of the Defence Select Committee, said there needed to be greater transparency over the aide’s role

The Telegraph reported that Mr Cummings has been invited to give evidence to the Defence Select Committee on the issue twice. 

But he is said to have declined the first invitation to appear while the second invitation is still outstanding. 

Mr Ellwood told the newspaper: ‘It’s unclear what his role is and yet he’s happy to let it be known he is visiting clandestine agencies. 

‘We aren’t even clear as to who is running the report. If we don’t know who is running it then how can we test the parameters in which this review is being conducted?”

Mr Ellwood said there must be ‘proper scrutiny and transparency’ of the review in order to prevent ‘someone with the mindset of Dominic Cummings running a coach and horses through our defence architecture’. 

He said Mr Cummings’ role in the review was ‘far greater… than anyone anticipated’.    

His calls for greater transparency around the review were echoed by fellow Tory MP Bob Seely who sits on the Foreign Affairs Select Committee. 

He said: ‘I don’t know who is leading the review. It would be good to have a named individual who oversees the contributions, and who can talk publicly about it.’  

It emerged in July this year that Mr Cummings was touring highly secret military and security services amid claims that he was determined to ‘sort out’ hapless procurement and organisational flaws.

The Defence Science and Technology Laboratory at Porton Down was among the sites that Dominic Cummings was planning to visit, according to a leaked memo

A memo leaked to the Sydney Morning Herald showed Mr Cummings was due to tour the Special Boat Service based at Poole in Dorset, the SAS headquarters in Hereford, the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory at Porton Down, the Rapid Capabilities Office at Farnborough and the defence intelligence unit at Wyton.

Mr Cummings’ involvement in the review has prompted controversy in Whitehall with MPs having warned armed forces chiefs that they need to improve or face the prospect of the aide ‘sorting you out his own way’.   

The PM’s top adviser famously clashed with Parliament’s select committee system after the 2016 EU referendum. 

In March 2019 he was found to be in contempt of Parliament after he failed to give oral evidence to a select committee when ordered to in 2018.     

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