LOCAL MPs have refused to call for the sacking of the Prime Minister’s top adviser, Dominic Cummings, after he apparently broke the coronavirus lockdown by driving 260 miles from London to Durham.
New Forest West MP Sir Desmond Swayne said his postbag was full of anger at Mr Cummings, who has claimed his young child and wife were ill and they self-isolated in March at his parents’ property.
But the MP said he would have advised anyone who faced such a situation to do the same thing, adding: “On the central charge of one rule for Cummings and one for the rest of us, I cannot condemn him.”
Mr Cummings also admitted that while in Durham he drove a 60-mile round-trip with his family to Barnard Castle because he believed his eyesight had been affected and wanted to test it. He has refused to resign and Boris Johnson has rejected calls to sack him.
Writing on his website on Wednesday, Sir Desmond stated he “understood the indignation and genuine disappointment” from people who “at great personal cost” had observed the lockdown.
Fellow Tory backbencher Sir Chris Chope, of Christchurch, said people had been confused with the lockdown regulations, but also suspected lobby journalists and some Tory MPs had an “axe to grind” against Mr Cummings.
He told the A&T: “Obviously there has been a lot of public interest in it because there is a no other news really and a lot of people have got time on their hands.
“There are so many important issues which have got to be discussed and debated with and by the government, and we have a PM who is not fully fit yet – who is still in the recovery stage. We need to have a strong, decisive government and we have got to get on with things.
“This goes back to the ambiguity that there was between the legislation which was never debated in parliament and the advice that was given by the government which was giving the impression we would be much more dogmatic.”
New Forest East MP Julian Lewis said the Prime Minister would have a decision to make if the investigation into Mr Cummings by Durham Police found he had breached regulations.
He said: “At that stage the PM must decide if the offence was so serious that an additional penalty – the loss of Mr Cummings’ job – should also be inflicted.
“If the loss of his career in addition to a fine seems extreme, he could be sanctioned in a more limited way; but all this must await the outcome of any prosecution.”
Sir Desmond and Dr Lewis were urged to go further by New Forest Liberal Democrats, who called for Mr Cummings to be sacked.
Cllr Mark Clark, district member for Furzedown and Hardley, said: “People right across Hythe and Dibden have made incredible sacrifices to stop the coronavirus.
“Even if the Prime Minister keeps his blinkers on, Dr Julian Lewis cannot be oblivious to how angry people are with this scandal despite Mr Cummings’ mea culpa moment [on Monday].”
Lib Dem Cllr Jack
Davies added: “Desmond Swayne must stop defending the indefensible and put the health, wellbeing and economy of our country before efforts to save the Prime Minister’s adviser.”