Dominic Cummings’ statement on his lockdown journeys ‘an insult to those who followed the rules’ – York MP

Dominic Cummings, senior aide to Prime Minister Boris Johnson, answers questions from the media after making a statement in the 10 Downing Street garden. Photograph: Jonathan Brady / PA Wire
25 May 2020 @ 5.40 pm
| Politics

Dominic Cummings’ explanation of his movements during lockdown is an insult to people who followed the government’s rules, a York MP said today (Monday).

Mr Cummings set out his version of events surrounding his 520-mile round trip to Durham at a press conference in the garden at 10 Downing Street this afternoon.

The Prime Minister’s chief adviser said he made the journey because of fears over a lack of childcare if he became incapacitated with Covid-19, but also concerns about his family’s safety.

Mr Cummings said he was worried that “this situation would get worse”, and “I was worried about the possibility of leaving my wife and child at home all day and often into the night while I worked in Number 10”.

“I thought the best thing to do in all the circumstances was to drive to an isolated cottage on my father’s farm,” he added.

Did not consider resigning

Mr Cummings’ fielding questions. Photograph: Jonathan Brady / PA Wire

Mr Cummings also said:

  • he has not considered resigning, and did not offer to do so.
  • he did not ask the Prime Minister about his decision and admitted that “arguably this was a mistake”.
  • he drove up to Durham with his wife and son and did not stop on the way, and the next day woke up in pain and “clearly had Covid symptoms”.
  • the Prime Minister had asked him to publicly give his account and he acknowledged he should have spoken earlier.
  • he could see why people basing their opinions on media reports of his actions could be furious.

‘Caused pain to many’

York Central MP Rachael Maskell

An early reaction came from York Central’s Labour MP Rachael Maskell.

She said: “We are in the midst of a global health crisis, where we need a government who can provide clear, unequivocal, evidence-based advice to keep the nation as safe as possible from the risk of infection.

“Mr. Cummings, in setting out his reasons for his actions misjudged the public reaction by saying that he exercised his judgement in how he interpreted the rules, indicating that he had the right to do this, when others did not.

“He stated that he ‘did not regret what he did’, causing a further insult to those who followed the instructions of the government, many of whom could not visit very sick family members; some never had the opportunity to say goodbye to loved ones.

“It was striking that he did not offer an apology.”

Despite Mr Cummings’ insistence that he understood that some people were angry with him, Ms Maskell said he had misjudged the public mood.

“Mr. Cummings has clearly not understood the pain he has caused so many by the actions that he has taken, and while everyone is trying to deal with very challenging circumstances, it would appear that there was one rule for him, and one for everyone else.

“It is time the Prime Minister got off the fence and set out why he can defend Mr. Cummings remaining in post.”