Boris Johnson’s chief adviser doesn’t apologize for breaking the lockdown rules, he doesn’t even regret it – and he won’t resign. The scandal is now becoming dangerous for the Prime Minister.
That Dominic Cummings, chief adviser to the British Prime Minister Boris Johnsonheld its own press conference on Monday was an extremely unusual move for British politicians. Government advisors tend to stay in the background – unlike elected politicians. But the eccentric Cummings has long been known to break rules and conventions, whether with his casual attire or with statements about the political elites.
Now he has been at the center of a scandal for days and tries to explain why he violates the rules of the Corona virus-Not noticed lockdowns. After it became known that he was 430 kilometers through England with his wife and son at the end of March had gone to his parents’ house in the northern English county of Durham, calls for his resignation have become louder and louder in recent days.
On Monday afternoon, Cummings appeared to journalists in the garden next to the seat of government half an hour later than planned, without a tie, with his shirt sleeves rolled up. He made it clear that he will not resign. He has also offered no apology or regret for his actions. “I don’t regret what I did or said,” said Cummings. “I think what I did was reasonable.” The only mistake he admitted was not talking to the Prime Minister about it before going to Durham. He accused the British media of spreading false reports about him, which had led to public resentment.
Childcare and an eye test
For more than an hour, Cummings gave his version of the events and insisted that he didn’t break any rules. On March 27, his wife, journalist Mary Wakefield, showed symptoms of the coronavirus. A video from that day showed Cummings leaving the seat of government in a hurry. The government’s official policy at the time was that people with corona symptoms should go into house quarantines for seven days and their families for 14 days. Still, Cummings decided to drive to his parents’ farm in County Durham that same day.
He said his circumstances were an exception because he needed care for the four-year-old son in case he and his wife were both ill. His sister and nieces had offered to help. Childcare in London was not an option. Cummings said that he didn’t even stop to refuel the entire trip, that he only saw his parents from a distance and that he and his family stayed in a separate house. He also developed corona symptoms himself, but only after arriving in Durham.
The second part of his story sounded much less convincing. On Easter Sunday, April 12th, Cumming’s family was seen next to the medieval Barnard Castle, which is approximately 30 miles from his parents’ house. A retired teacher had reported the incident to the police. Before the Easter weekend, the British were explicitly asked not to break the lockdown rules despite the good weather and not to travel to tourist locations or their temporary residences. Now Cummings claimed that the trip to the castle was just a test of whether he could drive long enough and whether his eyesight was good enough.
On Easter Monday, Cummings returned to London with the whole family and started working again. After that, he did not leave the capital. The Guardian and Daily Mirror reports that he was also seen in a forest in Durham on April 19 were wrong.
Johnson is committed to Cummings
However, the scandal surrounding Cummings is already developing to a political crisis and brought Prime Minister Johnson in need of explanation. On Monday evening, Johnson repeated during his press conference what he said on Sunday: his advisor had acted “responsibly, legally and with integrity”. He continued to support Cummings and considered his explanations plausible. However, he regretted the “confusion, anger and pain that people feel”. Johnson did not allow questions this time.
He made it clear how important the controversial advisor is to him. Cummings made a significant contribution to Johnson’s rise and has enjoyed immense trust in him ever since. The campaign expert has formulated the famous slogans “Take back control” and “Get Brexit done” at the center of the Brexit campaign before the referendum and Johnson’s election campaign before the general election last year. The unprecedented loyalty of Johnson to his advisor became apparent in February, when finance minister Sajid Javid had to leave the government after a conflict with Cummings.
But after Johnson and Cummings press conferences, the scandal has not calmed down. Several Conservative MPs held the Monday Cummings resigns required. Labor Party leader Keir Starmer said Johnson had treated the public “with contempt” and reminded that millions of people in the lockdown had to do without seeing their relatives or going to funerals. “One rule applies to the Prime Minister’s advisors, other rules apply to everyone else.” Scientists and bishops from the Anglican Church spoke of a breach of trust.
Even if Johnson tries to get through this crisis, the behavior of his advisor rubs off on him and could also be dangerous for him. Cummings, who was known for feeling the political mood in the country so well, seems to have misjudged this time.