- [mass noun] something pledged as security for repayment of a loan, to be forfeited in the event of a default: she put her house up as collateral for the bank loan.
What does Cummings have over Johnson?
It could be just that Cummings is Johnson's brain: Johnson is not very smart, may have been brain-damaged by CV19 and without Cummings he's in quite deep trouble.
But it could be more. The Intelligence and Security Committee of Parliament delivered its report into allegations of Russian interference in British politics to the government on the 17th October 2019. This report has not, so far, been published. It's extremely likely that Russia has attempted to gain influence in the Conservative party, and fairly likely that they've succeeded to some extent. But we don't know if they have, and if they have we don't know to what extent.
Obviously democracy would have been better served if the report had been published before the 2019 election, but Johnson very thoroughly demonstrated that he is not a supporter of democracy when he prorogued parliament. It was unrealistic to expect him to allow publication of something which might reduce his chances of keeping power, even though it was in the national interest to do so: Johnson cares only about Johnson, not the national interest.
Cummings lived in Russia from 1994 to 1997. Since his return he has played an important role in the brexit referendum, causing huge, long-lasting damage to the UK. And now he is, apparently, indispensable to Johnson, where he is guiding the country to the most harmful kind of brexit possible. What he has done since 2016 is in Russia's direct interest, although this does not mean he has been consciously working for Russia: probably he is just a useful idiot.
Now he has probably significantly increased the number of people who have died and who will die in the UK due to CV19. We don't know what he did when he sat in on SAGE, or what the advice he has given to Johnson in private is. But what we know he has done, again, is in Russia's interests. But, again, this does not mean he is consciously working for Russia.
And yet Johnson has not sacked him: why not? Is there some reason other than that Johnson needs Cummings to change his nappies?
Well, this is a conspiracy theory and conspiracy theories are almost always junk, but it is tempting to ask some questions.
- What did Cummings do in Russia between 1994 and 1997?
- Is Cummings working directly for Russia?
- Or do the Russians have some hold over him, in which case he is effectively working for them even if not voluntarily?
- What hold does he in turn have over Johnson? Over other people?
Well, this is a conspiracy theory: I don't think it is necessary to assume Russian interference to explain the casual psychopathy of Cummings and Johnson.
It's just a conspiracy theory, and conspiracy theories are almost always junk.