‘Time for an apology’ - what do our MPs make of Cummings’ lockdown journey?
PUBLISHED: 12:00 24 May 2020 | UPDATED: 14:39 24 May 2020
A Conservative Norfolk MP has called for the prime minister’s chief adviser, who travelled from London to Durham despite the country being in lockdown, to apologise and allow the government to return work.
Boris Johnson’s chief adviser travelled more than 260 miles with his child during the coronavirus lockdown to Durham in the north east of England, to be near his family.
It has sparked a national debate, with many questioning whether his actions fell under the government’s lockdown restrictions and others, including several Conservative MPs, coming to his defence.
On social media, many have said his travel was particularly galling given the sacrifices the general public have made in lockdown, with many not able to attend funerals of loved ones or be by their side as they died.
A statement from Number 10 on Saturday morning defended his actions, and said: “Owing to his wife being infected with suspected coronavirus and the high likelihood that he would himself become unwell, it was essential for Dominic Cummings to ensure his young child could be properly cared for.
“His sister and nieces had volunteered to help so he went to a house near to but separate from his extended family in case their help was needed.
“His sister shopped for the family and left everything outside.
“At no stage was he or his family spoken to by the police about this matter, as is being reported.”
We have asked all of Norfolk and Waveney’s MPs for their thoughts.
We will update this list with their responses. You can share your thoughts with us by answering our poll, and commenting below.
Peter Aldous, Conservative MP for Waveney, said: “Based on the facts that have come out so far, I think that is important, so far, with the journey he made to Durham in March by all accounts I don’t believe Dominic Cummings has done anything wrong.
“I would agree with the prime minister that the welfare of his child was of understandable importance to him. Those are the facts so far and on that basis I can understand why he made the journey.
“From my understanding he was self isolating, and he and his wife drove up to stay. They did not come into contact with anyone and he needed to be near his family for the welfare of his child.
“There may have been other visits, and when the facts are established about those claims there may well be some questions.
“The seven [Conservative MPs who are calling for Cummings to resign] have reached their own conclusions but based on the facts so far I can understand why he did what he did.”
Clive Lewis, Labour MP for Norwich South, said: “I didn’t see my family for nearly six weeks for a variety of reasons.
“They were locked down in one place and I was in another.
“I couldn’t go and visit them. I can now as things have relaxed but that was very difficult.
“I’m struggling to see why someone at the heart of government, someone key to making decisions about how we locked down and when in [a country] with one of the worst death rates in the world has chosen to flout the lockdown.”
Mr Lewis said that everyone “makes mistakes” but insisted the public did not like being lied to.”
The Norwich MP said he recognised Cummings was valued by the prime minister and understood that.
But he thought that during a national crisis and, with someone at the heart of government having done what he had, the “writing is on the wall for him”.
George Freeman, Conservative MP for Mid Norfolk, said: “If a husband and wife both have Covid-19, is taking their child to the grandparents a sacking offence? No.
“But the mixed messaging, communications muddle and now this #curfewgate is very damaging to the prime minister, cabinet, Her Majesty’s Government authority and public trust.
“Time for an apology and return to work to fix this mess.
“It’d be a big mistake for the prime minister and Dominic Cummings to dismiss the anger as ‘Remoaniac Twitterati bleating’. It isn’t. There is very strong support in Mid Norfolk for the prime minister (and Matt Hancock) having *had* Covid-19 and working tirelessly to tackle the crisis. People don’t want blame games and media lynch mobs - they want a strong, clear government they can trust to deliver.”
Brandon Lewis, MP for Great Yarmouth, has not yet responded for comment, but on Twitter said: “Father looks after child, within guidelines... &...?”
• We have contacted Richard Bacon, MP in South Norfolk, Chloe Smith, MP for Norwich North, James Wild, MP in North West Norfolk, Elizabeth Truss, MP in South West Norfolk, Brandon Lewis, MP in Great Yarmouth, Jerome Mayhew, MP in Broadland, and Duncan Baker, MP in North Norfolk.
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