It was one of the clearest demonstrations of Andy Coulson’s power. On Coulson’s advice, David Cameron offered Gove the position of education secretary on the condition that he sacked Cummings. Gove did not take it well.
The reason for the veto? Coulson suspected him of leaks, which was enough to convince Cameron to serve a dramatic ultimatum to one of his closest friends in the cabinet. Looking back, it was probably a bit unfair and unwise. Cummings, as a former strategy director for the party, has at times been sorely missed.
Little wonder then that as Coulson leaves No 10, Cummings is finally taking up a berth at the education department. After months of staying in the shadows, today he could be seen at Gove’s right hand as he briefed journalists on the education bill. He’ll soon take a salary as a special adviser.
Sweet timing? Apparently not. My sources insist that Cummings was brought in from the cold well before Coulson abruptly announced his departure. This whole saga is a neat reminder of how suddenly the fortunes of courtiers can change.