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media captionHow powerful is Dominic Cummings?
The prime minister's chief adviser, Dominic Cummings, has quit following reports of internal turmoil at Downing Street.
For someone with a supposedly backroom role, Mr Cummings has achieved remarkable prominence, and indeed notoriety.
His lockdown trip to County Durham became the stuff of social media legend, dominating the tabloid front pages and the national conversation for days.
It also succeeded in putting the historic market town of Barnard Castle on the map.
Mr Cummings revealed he had visited the town, with his family, to test his ability to drive back to London, after experiencing loss of vision due to coronavirus.
This explanation – which launched a thousand memes – came during an unprecedented press conference in the Downing Street garden to explain the reasons why he chose to travel to his parents' County Durham farm in March – at a time when he believed both he and his wife were about to be laid low with coronavirus – in order to guarantee his four-year-old son's safety.
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"I don't regret what I did," he told journalists. "The situation I was in was exceptional circumstances. I think I behaved reasonably."
Boris Johnson stood by his adviser throughout this episode – to the consternation of some of his supporters, who feared it was undermining his attempts to hold the country together in the face of arguably one of the biggest peacetime threats it has faced. Not to mention burning through the political capital, and goodwill, he had generated months earlier at a triumphant general election.
media captionBoris Johnson defends his senior adviser Dominic Cummings in May 2020
But it is hard to overstate how important Mr Cummings was to the Johnson project.