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Johnson backs key aide Cummings in lockdown controversy

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Chris Leroux explains how the PM has backed Cummings and what this means for the integrity of the British Government. 

This is a developing news story and may be updated with future developments

Boris Johnson has backed his key advisor Dominic Cummings, who has been accused of breaching lockdown. But why is Boris Johnson defending him and what will this mean for the integrity of the Government?

On Saturday, Mr Cummings and the government had said that he acted “reasonably and legally” in response to the original claims that he drove 260 miles from London to County Durham with his wife, who had coronavirus symptoms, to his parents’ house – which reportedly was because he was worried about childcare arrangements if he was to contract the virus alongside his wife.

It was then reported by The Observer and Sunday Mirror that Mr Cummings had taken a second trip in the middle of lockdown to Durham. The Prime Minister rejected these claims however, saying that they were “palpably false”, adding that “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.”

What this means is that, if the claims by the press are true, then Boris Johnson’s top aide in Number 10 has broken the lockdown orders which have been in place for almost 10 weeks. This has been said to undermine the orders given by the government to stay at home, which for many has meant not seeing family members in person for several months. If government aides can take a 260 mile trip to effectively see his parents, then why are the government insisting that the general public cannot do the same?

This has been seen by many, including the Labour leader Keir Starmer, as a break down of the Rule of Law, which our democracy is founded upon (where no one is above the law). Tweeting “The public will be forgiven for thinking there is one rule for the Prime Minister’s closes advisor and another for the British people.” Starmer has said what many people, including my mother – who is a teacher and has been unable to see her partner whilst in lockdown, but has had to work in school – have been thinking: what’s the point of staying in lockdown whilst there are those in the government that are blatantly flouting the rules?

This obviously risks every message spread by the government to be either ignored or dismissed of by the public. So why did Johnson defend Mr Cummings?

It is not a simple question and in doing so he has risked the integrity of the government. Cummings has been Johnson’s right-hand man and an advisor to him since his days on the Vote Leave team in 2016. But could it be that Johnson does not want Cummings outside of his circle in case he knows things he would leak? Maybe.

Regardless, this is a move by the government that will certainly lead to an increase of civil disobedience against the lockdown…

Featured image: Frankie Stevens

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LSU Media Vice Chair 2020-21 LSU Media Chair 2019-20 Hall Media Coordinator 2018-19

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