All the other conservatives mentioned in this devonlive article think it’s OK, to take one example, to drive 30 miles during lockdown to a beauty spot just to “test your eyesight” – Owl
A Devon MP has called for Dominic Cummings to ‘consider his position’ following allegations he broke lockdown rules.
East Devon MP Simon Jupp, who worked as Special Advisor to Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab before last year’s General Election, said that if placed in the same situation, he would not have made the same decisions that Mr Cummings made.
The MP said that while his actions were motivated by a father’s desire to do what he felt was necessary to protect his family in exceptional circumstances, those actions were wrong and said if it was him, he would have considered resigning from his role.
In a statement, Mr Jupp said: “Like you, I have felt a mixture of anger, disappointment and frustration in recent days. We are all making significant sacrifices and coping with situations we couldn’t imagine just a few months ago. Many of us, including myself, have lost people in our lives and haven’t been able to see family and friends. It’s been incredibly tough for everyone.
“Hundreds of people have contacted me regarding Dominic Cummings. I have read each and every email sent to me on this topic. I wanted to know the facts before responding to you. I have raised questions which I felt needed answering and made the strength of feeling in East Devon clear to the party leadership.
“Although I believe his actions were motivated by a father’s desire to do what he felt was necessary to protect his family in exceptional circumstances, if placed in the same situation I wouldn’t have made the same decisions and would have since considered my position.
“I will continue to share my views and those of my constituents with the party leadership. This has been a deeply unhelpful distraction we could do without as a nation dealing with a pandemic.
“As your MP, I will continue to focus my efforts on the hundreds of emails I continue to receive daily from constituents requiring my help and support. I would be doing a disservice to you and those who need support during this difficult time if I acted in any other way.”
On Tuesday, a government junior minister resigned over the issue. Douglas Ross, Under Secretary of State for Scotland, said Mr Cummings’ view of the government guidance was “not shared by the vast majority of people”, the BBC reported.
Mr Cummings said at his press conference he believed he had acted reasonably and within the law when he drove his family 260 miles from London to County Durham after his wife developed Covid-19 symptoms in March.
He said he and his wife had self-isolated at a property on his father’s farm to be close to relatives in case they needed help with care for their young son, and had no regrets about his decision.
North Devon MP Selaine Saxby, who is also still a North Devon councillor for Instow, did not condemn the actions of Mr Cummings but stopped short of throwing her backing behind him.
She said “I do not personally know Mr Cummings. All I know of his behaviour in recent weeks is the frank and open statement he gave to national media yesterday afternoon, where he explained why he took the decisions he did as a father and a husband.
“I prefer not to jump to a judgement unless I am aware of all the facts, particularly as there seems to be a lot of misinformation in the media these days often generated by social media assaults on individuals.
“The Prime Minister knows far more of what has happened throughout the pandemic than you or I. He has taken his decision to retain the services of his advisor who is an employee and not an elected representative.
“We have all had to take difficult decisions in the last couple of months and do our best to look after ourselves, our families and those we are responsible for within the guidelines. I am a big believer in taking responsibility for one’s self and the decisions we each take.
“I understand residents’ anger at this situation but I very much hope the Government can move on from this as there are so many other pressing matters associated with Covid-19 that need attention.”
Gary Streeter, the MP South West Devon, initially told the prime minister that Mr Cummings should go for breaking coronavirus lockdown rules.
But the MP then decided that after watching the press conference given by the prime minister’s chief adviser on Monday that he had “just about” kept within the rules.
He added: “I strongly agree that there must not be one rule for Government insiders and another for everybody else. I have therefore followed the Cummings story very closely.
“Over the weekend I formed the view that there had, on balance, been a breach of the lockdown rules and fed into Downing Street my recommendation that Mr Cummings be sacked.
“However, I then watched the extraordinary press conference in the rose garden yesterday and reached the conclusion that the actions of Mr Cummings just about kept him within the rules, given the clear exemption for looking after vulnerable people which obviously includes a four-year-old child.
“There is no doubt that this media storm has blurred the government message and hurt the government politically. It is now important that we move on and focus on leading the country back to some kind of normality. Schools and shops will start to re-open next month and we must ensure that happens safely.
“For us in the south west a much bigger challenge lies around the corner: namely how do we gradually start to re-open our hospitality and tourism sector without causing a second wave of the virus. That will be my focus for the next challenging few weeks.”
Cllr Phil Bullivant, Chairman of Newton Abbot Conservative Association and leader of the Conservative group on Teignbridge District Council, said that many important questions have been raised about the very difficult decision in which there is no correct response.
He said: “What does a person do to protect their autistic child if both parents become ill and their London home is the location for aggressive attacks from political opponents?
“The government guidelines recognised that there are circumstances which will require alternative solutions. If we believe that it is right that as a person in government should sacrifice the health and wellbeing of their family because of their position then Dominic Cummings was wrong.
“A charitable view would be that as he maintained an appropriate degree of separation and sought to put his autistic child into the hands of his family he stretched the guidelines for reasons he thought acceptable.
“I think the choice we would all make if we were confronted with a similar situation would require the Wisdom of Solomon.”
John Gray, Chairman of the Torridge & West Devon Conservative Association, said that he was satisfied that Mr Cummings’ actions were within the rules and that he should remain in his post.
He said: “Having watched the full statement and the subsequent questions I’m satisfied he was within the list of exceptional circumstances and that justified his actions.
“He continues to have a great deal to offer the country and even if some disagree with the decisions he made, his reasoning is clear and sensible.”
Asked what the feeling locally was, he added: “Things improved after his statement. It seems much of the public anger was caused by earlier press reports. Once the full situation was known it became difficult to criticise the guy. He clearly went through a horrendous time, under massive pressure, yet managed to make sensible decisions.”
As of time of writing on Tuesday afternoon, 32 Conservative MPs had broken party ranks to condemn Dominic Cummings