In January, the Prime Minister’s senior advisor launched a scathing attack on senior civil servants for allegedly plotting to keep the UK closely tied to Brussels after Brexit. He warned he was planning a major shake-up of the Whitehall system.
Following a meeting for ministerial advisers, Mr Cummings said civil servants had to accept that the UK’s transition out of EU regulations, due to end on December 31, will not be extended.
Now, during a speech at Oxford University today, Cabinet Secretary and the most senior civil servant Sir Mark Sedwill has given his support to Mr Cummings’ civil servants reform.
Mr Sedwill, who will leave his post in September after being asked to step down by the Prime Minister, said reform of the Establishment was “rightly back on the agenda”.
Taking aim at the backgrounds of his colleagues, he said central Government was “too metropolitan, too short-term and too focused on the preoccupations of Westminster and Whitehall”.
He added the Black Lives Matter campaign “reminded us” that ethnic minorities have “highly differentiated” experiences on working in the civil service.
He said: “2020 must become the decade where this becomes a thing of the past.”
Announcing his plans for shake up, Mr Cummings wrote on a blog post in January he wanted “some true wild cards” and “weirdos” to apply for civil service jobs.
He said: “People in SW1 talk a lot about ‘diversity’ but they rarely mean ‘true cognitive diversity’.
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“They are usually babbling about ‘gender identity diversity blah blah’.
“What SW1 needs is not more drivel about ‘identity’ and ‘diversity’ from Oxbridge humanities graduates but more genuine cognitive diversity.
“We need some true wild cards, artists, people who never went to university and fought their way out of an appalling hell hole, weirdos from William Gibson novels like that girl hired by Bigend as a brand ‘diviner’ who feels sick at the sight of Tommy Hilfiger or that Chinese-Cuban free runner from a crime family hired by the KGB.
“If you want to figure out what characters around Putin might do, or how international criminal gangs might exploit holes in our border security, you don’t want more Oxbridge English graduates who chat about Lacan at dinner parties with TV producers and spread fake news about fake news.
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“By definition I don’t really know what I’m looking for but I want people around No10 to be on the lookout for such people.”
Mr Cummings argued the civil service does not have enough senior staff with specialist knowledge, because they switch departments too often.
Sir David Normington, former civil service commissioner, criticised Mr Cummings’ comments and said at the time he will need to work with Whitehall not against it.
He said at the time: “There is nothing wrong with blogs.
“It is just some of the stuff he can’t resist saying about Oxbridge humanities graduates and so on.
“The underlying denigration of them is unhelpful, really, because it diverts attention from the interesting ideas he has.
“Many of these people he will need to work with.
“He is going to need to work with Whitehall, not against it.
“It is a big machine and one person can’t change it without lots of allies. You do need the machine.”
Mr Cummings’ post has been seen as a snub to gender politics and politically correct thinking.