Dominic Cummings ‘will help make government better’, says Norfolk MP
PUBLISHED: 07:33 27 May 2020 | UPDATED: 12:05 27 May 2020
Prime minister’s aide Dominic Cummings “will help make government better”, a Norfolk MP who insists he should not lose his job has said.
Boris Johnson’s chief advisor this week gave an explanation of why he travelled to Durham with his wife and child, despite coronavirus lockdown restrictions.
Mr Cummings said he made the journey to stay at a property at the home of his parents because of fears over a lack of childcare if he became incapacitated with the virus, and concerns about his family’s safety.
He also said he made a trip to the town of Barnard Castle with his wife and child to test if his eyesight, which he felt had been affected by having coronavirus, to see if he would be okay to drive back to London.
Jerome Mayhew, Conservative MP for Broadland, said Mr Cummings should not lose his job.
He said: “For my part, whilst I accept the explanation for the move to Durham, I find it hard to understand the rationale for the later trip to Barnard Castle.”
But he said Mr Cummings should not lose his job.
He said: “If we apply the same rules to him as to the rest of us, I don’t think so. But a recognition that he made a mistake would go a long way.”
Mr Mayhew said that a “media storm” was “rarely conducive to good decision making” and that Mr Johnson had “gone through the detail for several hours with Mr Cummings and concluded that the rules were not broken.”
And Mr Mayhew added: “The media reports suggest that Mr Cummings has a difficult personality. My personal view is that every large organisation desperately needs difficult people like Mr Cummings to ask the awkward questions, to challenge the comfortable status quo, to ruffle feathers, to provoke change.
“People like him are the grit in the oyster that will help make government better. Whilst no-one is indispensable, we definitely need people like Mr Cummings within the decision-making process of government.”
Mr Mayhew concluded: “This whole debate is a huge distraction from what is really important: how best to tackle the coronavirus and get the country back on its feet as quickly as possible.
“The government’s response to the coronavirus is fast moving and comprehensive, and it has my full support. I agree with my constituent who tells me that we should now get back to the many important issues that we face.”
His comments contrasted with those of fellow Conservative Norfolk MP Duncan Baker. Mr Baker, North Norfolk MP, said Mr Cummings “undermined” the government’s stay at home message around coronavirus by travelling to Durham with his wife and son.
He said Mr Cummings should not escape sanction, tweeting: “It is my view that he broke the spirit - if not the letter - of the guidance designed to limit the spread of coronavirus.
“He should now have the courage to admit his judgement was questionable and should be reprimanded.
“He has undermined the whole essence of the government’s key Stay At Home messaging. Given my strong stance imploring people not to visit their second homes here in North Norfolk you can imagine how strongly I feel about this situation.”
Norwich North Conservative MP Chloe Smith said: “The rules applied to everyone equally, and still do. That principle is extremely important to me, and to my constituents.
“I totally understand people’s concerns, and the prime minister will too, so I respect the PM’s decision after he has scrutinised his employee’s actions.”
Great Yarmouth Conservative MP Brandon Lewis tweeted on Monday that Mr Cummings “followed the guidelines”, while James Wild, Conservative MP for North West Norfolk said his actions were “understandable and reasonable”.
Mid Norfolk Tory MP George Freeman tweeted: “Hmm. Not great. Downing Street Covid briefing and PM’s important announcement on easing lockdown overwhelmed by continuing questions and controversy.”
Clive Lewis, Labour MP for Norwich South, said: “I think he should be fired. It’s quite clear he isn’t going to resign. He has no intention of resigning - he should be fired.
“We already had problems with lockdown. If there’s a second spike, how can they then say ‘right, this is an even tougher lockdown’.
“This is a very, very bad decision. We seem to be in a kind of ‘Trump Britain’.”
South West Norfolk MP Elizabeth Truss and South Norfolk MP Richard Bacon were contacted, but have not commented.
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