News & Politics

Boris Johnson Chief Aide Under Fire For Travel During Lockdown

Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson gestures as he speaks to supporters during a visit to meet newly elected Conservative party lawmakers at Sedgefield Cricket Club in County Durham, north east England on Saturday Dec. 14, 2019, following his Conservative party's general election victory. Johnson called on Britons to put years of bitter divisions over the country's EU membership behind them as he vowed to use his resounding election victory to finally deliver Brexit. (Lindsey Parnaby / Pool via AP)

Dominic Cummings, Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s chief advisor, is in hot water because he traveled 250 miles to his parents’ home with his family when his wife showed symptoms of COVID-19. Cummings says he wanted to be near relatives and wanted reliable childcare if he tested positive.

Under normal circumstances, that would be completely understandable. But travel in Great Britain is extremely restricted because of the pandemic and Johnson’s political opponents saw an opportunity to attack.

BBC:

Mr Cummings told reporters he “behaved reasonably and legally” when asked about the trip from London to Durham.

Asked whether it looked good, he said: “Who cares about good looks? It’s a question of doing the right thing. It’s not about what you guys think.”

He was later asked by reporters whether he would consider his position, he said: “Obviously not.”

“You guys are probably all about as right about that as you were about Brexit: do you remember how right you all were about that,” he added.

The question isn’t legality as much as it is political propriety. But Cummings isn’t worried — yet — because his boss has his back.

Yahoo News:

Transport secretary, Grant Shapps, revealed during the daily coronavirus press conference at Downing Street the PM backed Cummings.

He said: “The prime minister would have known he was staying put, and he didn’t come out again until he was feeling better … the prime minister provides Mr Cummings with his full support”.

A Downing Street spokesman added: “His sister shopped for the family and left everything outside. At no stage was he or his family spoken to by the police about this matter, as is being reported.”

Is it really that big of a deal? Cummings’s desire to make sure his kids would be OK if he got sick would qualify as an “emergency” for most people. But Cummings did not serve his boss well during the row over his family visit, not in the visit itself.

Downing Street should have been better prepared to answer questions about Cummings but misjudged the mood of the nation. People are in genuine anguish over missing funerals, weddings, babies being born — all the little things that make life worth living.

Social media blew up.

Cummings shouldn’t be sacked, but a little more humility, as well as a public apology, might tamp down the anger a bit.

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