As you would expect I have been receiving many emails about Dominic Cummings, and I thought you may want to read my thoughts on the matter.
I have received several hundred emails on the subject, the overwhelming majority of them hostile to his actions. I have waited to respond until now because I thought there were still some facts to come out, and this was proved to be correct at his press conference on Monday afternoon. It would have been much better if he had spoken openly and in detail on Friday.
The first thing to say is that I have expressed my own displeasure, and the anger of many of those who wrote to me, both to the Chief Whip and to Cabinet Ministers. No one at the top of Government can be unaware of the widespread public anger at Dominic Cummings’ actions. Many of the individual points put in emails to me have been relayed to senior Ministers.
I should say that I felt more understanding of his behaviour after the press conference. In particular, the fact that his four-year-old son spent a night in hospital must have been a terrible source of worry. Nevertheless my main concern, even beyond the details of the story such as the drive to Barnard Castle to test his eyesight, is the effect of his travelling to Durham on the behaviour of others.
We all know that some families have suffered appallingly during the lockdown, not just losing relatives but being unable to comfort them at the end. For many more there has been the pain of long-term separation from close family members. It is possible to put up with this if we all accept that we are in the same boat. A combination of Dominic Cummings’ actions and the way they were reported has clearly damaged that sense of solidarity, as is reflected in many of the emails I have received.
The key task now is to make sure that the damage to our sense of national solidarity does not make the easing of the lockdown chaotic, as it will be if people decide that the rules do not apply at all. My main focus now is not on individuals—I have expressed my views (and your views) and it is for others to decide. I want us to come safely out of lockdown as quickly as possible, so that we can save livelihoods as well as lives. This has been a bad period for the Government, and it is in the interests of all of us, whatever our political views, that the recovery from the virus is put back on track.
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Rt Hon Damian Green MP . House of Commons . London, SW1A 0AA . United Kingdom
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