CAB - 7 Oct 2020 - 10 Oct 2020 - Advice

Coronavirus / Conservative list MSP says Cummings should have resigned or have been sacked

Highlands and Islands list MSP Jamie Halcro Johnston. Photo: Chris Cope/Shetland NewsHighlands and Islands list MSP Jamie Halcro Johnston. Photo: Chris Cope/Shetland News

CONSERVATIVE Highlands and Islands MSP Jamie Halcro Johnston believes Boris Johnson’s top advisor Dominic Cummings should have resigned or have been removed from his position after driving across England during lockdown.

The MSP said “there is widespread anger at his actions, as well as legitimate concerns that the impact of government public health advice may have been undermined”.

Halcro Johnston responded to constituents who contacted him about Cummings, who drove 260 miles from London to Durham to his parents’ home with his ill wife and child during the lockdown.

Cummings – who has been defended by prime minister Boris Johnson – spoke to the media on Monday to defend his decisions, saying he acted reasonably.

He also said he drove 30 miles to Barnard Castle, with his wife and child, to test his eyesight before driving back to London.

Halcro Johnston said he fully understood constituents’ “frustration and anger” as he has remained in Edinburgh during lockdown instead of travelling to and from Orkney. 

“Rather than rushing to immediate judgement on Dominic Cummings’ actions, particularly given there has been so much speculation over these – some of it inaccurate, I have wanted to be in a position to provide a more considered response once the facts were more fully presented,” he said.

“However, it is clear that, whether or not Mr Cummings believes he acted within the law – or even within the spirit of the law, there is widespread anger at his actions, as well as legitimate concerns that the impact of government public health advice may have been undermined.

“While it is a matter for the Prime Minister, it is my personal opinion that Dominic Cummings should have resigned or be removed from his position, and I have made my views known through the appropriate channels.

“It is now vital that the UK Government focuses all its attention and efforts on the work it is doing in fighting this pandemic and supporting families, communities and businesses across the United Kingdom.

“And I will continue, as a Highlands and Islands MSP, to raise issues of concern here in Scotland, including the high numbers of care home deaths, the Scottish Government’s failures over testing, and the health and financial impact of Scotland’s extended lockdown.”

On Tuesday junior minister Douglas Ross, who is the MP for Moray, resigned from his government post, saying Cummings “interpretation of the government advice was not shared by the vast majority of people who have done as the government asked”.

Liberal Democrat MP for Orkney and Shetland Alistair Carmichael, meanwhile, said on Monday that Cummings should have resigned or have been sacked.

Prime minster Boris Johnson previously said his aide travelled to secure the “right kind of childcare at the moment when he and his wife were about to be incapacitated by coronavirus, and when he had no alternative”.

He added: “I believe that in every respect he has acted responsibly, and legally, and with integrity, and with the overwhelming aim of stopping the spread of the virus and saving lives.”