Jackson Carlaw has called on Downing Street aide Dominic Cummings to “consider his position”, as the backlash over his 260-mile lockdown trek from London to County Durham continued.
The Scots Tory leader had originally backed Boris Johnson’s support for the under-fire adviser but facing a revolt from his own party, Mr Carlaw decided to change tack.
“If it were me, I would be considering my position”, he told STV.
His statement came after Moray MP Douglas Ross resigned from his role as a junior minister in the Scotland Office on Tuesday over Mr Cummings’ journey.
Mr Carlaw said: “Over the course of the weekend I was really having to come to a view on all of this in the absence of the facts. The prime minister had those facts, so I very much felt it was a decision for him.
“On Monday Mr Cummings spoke and we got a version of events from him, some people will have found that understandable.
“But I think the reality is this is now consuming the entire debate, distracting away from the principle message and the fight against the virus, and if I were in his position, if it were me, I would be considering my position.”
Asked if the prime minister should sack him if Mr Cummings does not quit, Mr Carlaw said: “I’m not going to issue instructions to the prime minister.
“But given the furore, given the distraction this is, given the distraction of the prime minister on this issue, if I were Mr Cummings I would be considering my position.
“I think it is a distraction to the Prime Minister, I think it is diluting the message, I think all across the country our focus has to be on tackling the virus.”
Mr Carlaw has become one of the most senior Conservatives to call for the Downing Street adviser to consider his position.
Tory MSPs Adam Tomkins and Donald Cameron, along with 23 Tory MPs, have also called for Mr Cummings to go.
Prof Tomkins, speaking after Mr Ross’ resignation, said: “To lose Douglas Ross from Government is a disaster. His was one of clearest voices for the Union in Government. It shows exactly why Cummings should be sacked. I suspect others will follow where Douglas has led.”
The condemnation came as the Westminster leaders of the SNP, Lib Dems, Plaid Cymru, SDLP, Green Party and Alliance Party wrote to the prime minister urging him to sack his top adviser “without further delay”.
I haven't commented publicly on the situation with Dominic Cummings as I have waited to hear the full details. I welcome the statement to clarify matters, but there remains aspects of the explanation which I have trouble with. As a result I have resigned as a government Minister. pic.twitter.com/6yXLyMzItJ
— Douglas Ross MP (@Douglas4Moray) May 26, 2020
In an extraordinary press conference in Downing Street’s garden on Monday, Mr Cummings argued that his journey to Durham in March was justified as he sought to protect his family’s health.
Many questions remain unanswered, however, including why he decided to drive to beauty spot Barnard Castle “to test his eyesight” after suffering Covid-19 symptoms.
Downing Street again defended Mr Cummings yesterday, saying the adviser had acted “reasonably, legally and with integrity and with care for his family and for others”
The prime minister’s spokesman said: “Dominic Cummings outlined his reasons for taking the action that he did, the prime minister is satisfied with the explanation.”
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