United Kingdom Prime Minister Boris Johnson is once again embroiled in controversy after one of his senior aides, Dominic Cummings, was discovered to have broken the PM’s lockdown order just days after it went into effect, traveling “260 miles from London to Durham, northern England in March,” according to CNBC.
Cummings has refused to step down, but the furor and frustration is so great that a “junior minister in Boris Johnson’s government resigned on Tuesday,” because he could not, in good conscience, defend the lockdown measures to his constituents, after the senior advisor’s actions.
Politicians on both sides of the pond have openly flouted lockdown rules. Most recently, in the U.S., Michigan’s Democrat Governor Gretchen Whitmer fell under scrutiny after a marina owner in the northern part of the state claimed her husband demanded his boat be put into the water at the couple’s vacation home, even though Whitmer had stressed, repeatedly, to Michigan residents, to avoid travel and stay home over the Memorial Day holiday.
Illinois governor, J.B. Prizker’s wife and children traveled to the family “horse estate” in Florida to wait out the shelter-in-place restrictions and only recently returned to Illinois — but then, only for a short time, decamping to Wisconsin, to another of the Pritzker’s horse estates.
Neither Michigan nor Illinois had strict lockdown measures that absolutely prevented travel, though both governors stressed the importance of avoiding movement in order to contain the spread of the novel coronavirus. In the U.K., PM Johnson had instituted a strict set of regulations barring travel for all but “exceptional” situations — and Cummings still apparently flouted the rule.
“In a press conference,” CNBC reports, “Cummings said his trip to family in Durham was within the scope of the restrictions because he needed to seek child care in case he and his wife fell ill. This, he argued, was one of the ‘exceptional circumstances’ allowed under the government’s lockdown measures.”
At the time Cummings took his road trip, his wife was showing symptoms of COVID-19, lending some creedence to his excuse, but he failed to expain why the only option was travel.
In a bid to protect the Prime Minister, Cummings admitted that he did not inform Johnson of his plans or discuss his travel, which he says was “arguably” a mistake. Cummings says he does not intend to resign his position, regardless.
Minister Douglas Ross, who resigned on Tuesday, told media that he felt Cummings took advantage of his position.
“I have constituents who didn’t get to say goodbye to loved ones; families who could not mourn together; people who didn’t visit sick relatives because they followed the guidance of the government,” he said in a statement. “I cannot in good faith tell them they were all wrong and one senior advisor to the government was right.”
Johnson’s office said only that, “The prime minister would like to thank Douglas Ross for his service to government and regrets his decision to stand down as parliamentary under secretary of state for Scotland.”
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