The Conservative Party secured a crushing victory in last month’s general election, capturing 364 of the 650 seats in the House of Commons. It was a remarkable turnaround for the Tories but above all, a personal win for the Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, and his special adviser, Dominic Cummings. Despite the criticism gained in recent times, the former Vote Leave campaign director can arguably be credited for the Tory triumph and in three weeks time, for delivering Brexit.
Making sure Britain leaves the bloc, though, it is not Mr Cummings’ only objective.
According to a recent Financial Times report written by the publication’s political editor George Parker, the Brexit guru is now planning to reinvent British politics and his WhatsApp might reveal more about his plan than it seems.
His WhatsApp status reportedly reads: “Get Brexit done, then Arpa”.
The Advanced Research Projects Agency (Arpa) concept is inspired partly by the US body of that name, which supported some of the most innovative technological advances of the Sixties and early Seventies, including interactive computing and the infant internet.
How Dominic Cummings’ Whatsapp’s reveals Boris Johnson’s long-term plan
Prime Minister Boris Johnson
It was later renamed the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, which has a $ 3.5billion annual budget with a remit to “make pivotal investments in breakthrough technologies for national security”.
Its UK counterpart, which would probably be given a different name before its launch, is likely to be based outside London.
Mr Cummings wants it to pursue truly novel and experimental ideas, rather than funding fields such as quantum computing that sound futuristic but now fall within mainstream research.
It would also experiment with new funding mechanisms.
Mr Parker wrote: “His new focus reflects the passions developed in his bunker: putting science at the heart of government and ensuring that the government machine delivers what the politicians promise.
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Boris Johnson’s special adviser Dominic Cummings
“His inspiration is the US government’s Manhattan Project, which created the first atomic bomb, and – as he put it in his blog – ‘the way in which George Mueller turned the failing NASA bureaucracy into an organisation that could put man on the Moon.’
“He wants to set up a civilian version of Arpa, pursuing ‘high-risk, high-return projects that markets won’t fund – i.e. failure is normal.'”
According to the Telegraph, Arpa’s equivalent in the UK would cost £800mllion and it is intended to ensure, if its architect’s own writings are any guide, that Britain becomes “the best place in the world to be for those who can invent the future”, creating “whole new industries” and delivering trillions for the UK economy.
In 2017, Mr Cummings noted in his blog that Arpa has delivered “$ 35trillion of value for society and counting”.
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Jonathan Powell, Blair’s former chief of staff
Arpa UK would, he says, “create real long-term value for humanity”.
Among the other changes Mr Cummings is planning for 2020, he is also considering replacing Cabinet committees with a more flexible system based on COBRA emergency security meetings.
Tony Blair’s former chief of staff Johnathan Powell, though, believes his efforts to overhaul the state will go in vain.
He told the FT: “On the basis of my experience, the sensible thing for an unelected official in Number 10 to do is keep a low profile.
“I give him 12 months max. If you try to be in the papers every day your political life expectancy is short – and like Rasputin, you end up on the bottom of the River Neva in chains.”