Boris Johnson is under increasing pressure to sack Dominic Cummings today, with the SNP accusing the prime minister of “taking the public for fools”.
Mr Johnson’s decision to back his chief aide’s lockdown trip to Durham has sparked widespread anger and raised fears that the UK Government’s coronavirus message will be undermined.
Mr Cummings travelled 260 miles from London to County Durham in March to self-isolate with his family – apparently because he feared that he and his wife would be left unable to care for their son – while official guidelines warned against long-distance journeys.
Further reports also suggested he took a second trip to the North East in April, having already returned to London following his recovery from Covid-19 – a disease that has seen more than 45,000 people in the UK die after contracting it.
SNP Westminster leader Ian Blackford called Mr Johnson’s judgement into question and has tabled a parliamentary motion calling for Mr Cummings to be sacked.
There cannot be one rule for Tory advisers and another for everyone else. Dominic Cummings broke the rules and he is now threatening public health. He must go without further delay.”
The SNP boss will also convene a cross-party meeting on Tuesday to discuss the joint action MPs can take to hold Mr Johnson and Mr Cummings to account.
The meeting is expected to discuss the need for parliamentary action and a Cabinet Office inquiry, among other measures.
Mr Blackford said: “Boris Johnson must sack Dominic Cummings. If he doesn’t this will go on for many weeks and cause lasting damage to public confidence in the Tory government and its Covid-19 response.
“The Prime Minister’s judgement is on now the line – he must stop treating the public as fools. There cannot be one rule for Tory advisers and another for everyone else. Dominic Cummings broke the rules and he is now threatening public health. He must go without further delay.
“Public anger is palpable. MPs are receiving hundreds of emails from their constituents and hundreds of thousands have signed a petition calling for Mr Cummings to go. The police have launched an investigation. This is not going away – however much Boris Johnson arrogantly dismisses the widespread public concern.”
He added: “The SNP has written to Sir Mark Sedwill calling for an inquiry and tabled a Parliamentary motion demanding Mr Cummings’ resignation. We have also submitted a series of parliamentary questions to put on record exactly what role Boris Johnson played in the Downing Street cover-up, which kept the public in the dark for eight weeks.
“The longer the Prime Minister allows this farce to continue the more the Tory government will lose credibility and respect. He must sack Mr Cummings without further delay.”
Mr Johnson said he could “not mark down” Mr Cummings for the way he acted, and told the Downing Street press conference on Sunday that, following “extensive” talks with his aide, he concluded “he followed the instincts of every father and every parent”.
He said Mr Cummings had “acted responsibly, legally and with integrity”.
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