Downing Street must not conduct Whitehall reform by firing squad, a former Tory cabinet minister has said, amid reports of soaring tensions between No 10 and the civil service.
David Davis, the ex-Brexit secretary, said the government should not be making hit lists of Whitehall officials after it emerged that No 10 had set its sights on shifting permanent secretaries in several government departments.
The senior Tory also took aim at Dominic Cummings  who once described him as lazy as a toad and thick as mince  saying Boris Johnsons powerful aide was only an adviser who would be here today, gone tomorrow.
Download the new Independent Premium app
Sharing the full story, not just the headlines
Download now
Mr Cummings has sparked alarm with his bullish approach to government as he wages war on the establishment, including Whitehall and the BBC.
His appointment of No 10 aide Andrew Sabisky also sparked controversy, prompting the 27-year-old to resign amid a media storm over his past comments on eugenics, race and compulsory contraception.
Watch more
Downing Street is said to be considering replacing Sir Tom Scholar, the top civil servant at the Treasury, as well as Sir Philip Rutnam, the permanent secretary at the Home Office, who is embroiled in a row with Priti Patel, the home secretary.
Sources told The Sunday Telegraph that there were a few permanent secretaries that are on the s*** list who, given weve got five years and a majority, wont be there very long.
Asked if he was alarmed by the way No 10 is operating, Mr Davis told the BBCs Andrew Marr Show: I dont know whether the headlines reflect the reality the hit list, to pick the rhyming slang.
There are issues to resolve in the civil service, theres no doubt about that, but you dont solve a piece of managerial reform with a firing squad. Thats not not the way to do it.
He added: There are ways of making government work better. There are ways of making the permanent secretaries behave better but it doesnt involve making hit lists.
Mr Davis outlined the importance of not bypassing vetting processes after the row over the appointment of Mr Sabisky, who entered No 10 under an appeal from Mr Cummings for misfits and weirdos to apply for jobs.
left
Created with Sketch.
right
Created with Sketch.
Shape
Created with Sketch.
Boris Johnson’s cabinet reshuffle: Who’s in and who’s out
1/17 Out: Sajid Javid
Resigned as Chancellor of the Exchequer. Mr Javids departure comes just one month before a crucial budget, intended to chart the course for the new government and makes him the shortest-serving chancellor for more than 50 years
2/17 In: Rishi Sunak
Promoted from Chief Secretary to the Treasury to Chancellor of the Exchequer after the dramatic resignation of Sajid Javid
3/17 Out: Esther McVey
Sacked as housing minister
4/17 Out: Andrea Leadsom
Sacked as business secretary
5/17 Changed role: Alok Sharma
Appointed business secretary (previously international development secretary). He has also been put in charge of the UKs COP26 climate change summit
6/17 Out: Attorney General Geoffrey Cox
Resigned as the government’s most senior law officer
7/17 In: Suella Braverman
Appointed Attorney General and she will attend cabinet
8/17 Out: Theresa Villiers
Sacked as environment secretary
9/17 In: George Eustice
Appointed environment, food and rural affairs secretary. He was a farming and fisheries minister
10/17 Changed role: Anne-Marie Trevelyan
Appointed international development secretary (previously parliamentary under-secretary for defence)
11/17 Out: Julian Smith
Sacked as Northern Ireland secretary
12/17 In: Brandon Lewis
Appointed Secretary of Northern Ireland
13/17 In: Stephen Barclay
Appointed chief secretary to the Treasury
14/17 In: Oliver Dowden
Appointed culture secretary, succeeding Nicky Morgan
15/17 Out: Chris Skidmore
Sacked as eucation minister
16/17 Out: Nus Ghani
Sacked as transport minister
17/17 Out: George Freeman
Sacked as transport minister
1/17 Out: Sajid Javid
Resigned as Chancellor of the Exchequer. Mr Javids departure comes just one month before a crucial budget, intended to chart the course for the new government and makes him the shortest-serving chancellor for more than 50 years
2/17 In: Rishi Sunak
Promoted from Chief Secretary to the Treasury to Chancellor of the Exchequer after the dramatic resignation of Sajid Javid
3/17 Out: Esther McVey
Sacked as housing minister
4/17 Out: Andrea Leadsom
Sacked as business secretary
5/17 Changed role: Alok Sharma
Appointed business secretary (previously international development secretary). He has also been put in charge of the UKs COP26 climate change summit
6/17 Out: Attorney General Geoffrey Cox
Resigned as the government’s most senior law officer
7/17 In: Suella Braverman
Appointed Attorney General and she will attend cabinet
8/17 Out: Theresa Villiers
Sacked as environment secretary
9/17 In: George Eustice
Appointed environment, food and rural affairs secretary. He was a farming and fisheries minister
10/17 Changed role: Anne-Marie Trevelyan
Appointed international development secretary (previously parliamentary under-secretary for defence)
11/17 Out: Julian Smith
Sacked as Northern Ireland secretary
12/17 In: Brandon Lewis
Appointed Secretary of Northern Ireland
13/17 In: Stephen Barclay
Appointed chief secretary to the Treasury
14/17 In: Oliver Dowden
Appointed culture secretary, succeeding Nicky Morgan
15/17 Out: Chris Skidmore
Sacked as eucation minister
16/17 Out: Nus Ghani
Sacked as transport minister
17/17 Out: George Freeman
Sacked as transport minister
I think what is happening is people are not paying enough attention to the bits of the system that do work, said Mr Davis.
The bits of the system that do work are the positive vetting processes and so on, and if you start bypassing those, you start breaking the china and thats what you dont do.
Asked about some of the disparaging comments made against him by Mr Cummings, he said: Dominic Cummings doesnt like me, I know, thats self-evident.
But hes a special adviser. Here today, gone tomorrow.
The row comes after Sajid Javid sensationally resigned as chancellor over a perceived power grab by No 10 at the Treasury, in which he was told to sack his advisers in favour of a joint Downing Street-Treasury unit.
Mr Javid said these were conditions no self-respecting minister could accept.