Lee Cain
Lee Cain

UK prime minister Boris Johnson is losing his communications director as Lee Cain, a former Vote Leave official, plans to call it quits early next year.

His departure signals a power struggle over access to the PM, according to the Financial Times, at a time when the UK struggles with COVID-19 and is involved in tough negotiations regarding its exit from the EU.

The former tabloid journalist and longtime Johnson aide resigned after the PM apparently reneged on a promise to up Cain to chief of staff.

“It was an honour to be asked to serve as the prime minister’s chief of staff,” Cain said in his resignation letter.

Reports of Cain’s promotion triggered a backlash among members of Johnson’s Conservative party, who blame him for botching communications related to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Carrie Symonds, Johnson’s fiancee and former Tory official, opposed the elevation of Cain, telling colleagues she wants someone with a “less confrontational style” in the CoS post.

Last month, Johnson named Allegra Stratton to serve as his spokesperson for the new daily televised press briefings.

She was previously director of strategic communications for Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak.

Before that, she was national editor for ITV News, and worked for both the BBC and the Guardian.