Boris Johnson takes back control of coronavirus crisis with Downing Street shake-up

The new approach echoes the Government’s Brexit planning last year which was led by an “XS” strategic and “XO” operational committee.

The committees will replace four ministerial implementation groups, set up at the start of the crisis and covering foreign affairs, health, economy and business and public services, each chaired by a Cabinet minister.

The regular Covid-19 committee meeting, which has been held every morning at Number 10, is being axed. One source said the new structure would give a more “cohesive” approach to tackling the pandemic.

Number 10 is also ending the weekend press conferences due to low audience figures, and only holding them on weekdays. Mr Johnson will host one of them.

Officials wanted to maintain the weekday conferences because they are attracting more than three million viewers and listeners most evenings. One source said: “It is a prime time audience, and you would be foolish to give that up.”

A senior Tory MP said Mr Johnson’s shake-up was intended “to bring some order” to the decision-making process after a difficult two months.

The MP said: “Boris has decided that Cummings is there, but he is going to take more direct control. It is coming out of frustration – you are seeing his reawakening after a tough old time with the Covid-19 attack.

“He showed he had backbone [in backing Mr Cummings]. Cummings is not in a brilliant place – and he must know it. Boris knowing that makes him more determined to do it himself.”

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