Boris Johnson’s communications director Lee Cain has dramatically resigned amid signs of a bitter Downing Street power struggle.
In a statement the former journalist said that after “careful consideration” he had decided to leave No 10 at the end of the year.
The shock move comes less than 24 hours after it was reported that he was to be promoted to the key position of the Prime Minister’s chief of staff.
Cain was a close ally of Dominic Cummings, Mr Johnson’s chief adviser, having worked with him on the Brexit campaign.
The appointment was seen as consolidating the former Vote Leave team’s grip at the top of Downing Street.
However it provoked an immediate backlash with Mr Johnson’s fiancee Carrie Symonds reportedly opposed to the move.
In a statement announcing his resignation, Mr Cain said he was leaving despite having been offered the chief of staff post.
“After careful consideration I have this evening resigned as No 10 director of communications and will leave the post at the end of the year,” he said.
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“It has been a privilege to work as an adviser for Mr Johnson for the last three years – being part of a team that helped him win the Tory leadership contest, secure the largest Conservative majority for three decades – and it was an honour to be asked to serve as the Prime Minister’s chief of staff.
“I would like to thank all the team at No 10 – including the many unsung and incredibly talented civil servants – for their hard work and support during the last 18 months.
“And most of all I would like to thank the Prime Minister for his loyalty and leadership.”
In response, Johnson paid tribute to Cain’s “extraordinary service” to the Government over the past four years.
“He has been a true ally and friend and I am very glad that he will remain director of communications until the new year and to help restructure the operation,” he said.
“He will be much missed.”
After the 2016 referendum, Cain joined Johnson as a special adviser when he was made foreign secretary by Theresa May.
He stuck with Mr Johnson when he quit two years later over May’s proposed Brexit deal and worked on his campaign to succeed her as Tory leader.