Flintshire MP says UK needs ‘formidable intellect’ of Dominic Cummings to get through coronavirus crisis
A Flintshire MP has leapt to the defence of Dominic Cummings in the face of a public backlash over his trip to County Durham during the coronavirus lockdown.
Delyn’s Conservative representative Rob Roberts said the senior aide’s explanation of why he drove 260 miles to his parent’s home in March was “reasonable and consistent” and claimed his brainpower was needed to tackle the pandemic.
His comments were made at the same time as several of his Tory colleagues backed calls for Mr Cummings to resign, despite his assertion at a press conference on Monday that he was acting in the best interests of his family.
The leader of the Conservative group on Flintshire Council also said he sympathised with Scotland Office minister Douglas Ross who today stood down over the issue.
However, Mr Roberts, who pulled off a shock result by beating Labour’s David Hanson in December, has now called for people to move on from the row.
He said: “I suspect that the vast majority of parents with a small child would have made the same decision if the situation was reversed to make sure there was someone to look after the child if both parents fell ill.
“Mr Cummings reports to the Prime Minister. If his boss is satisfied with his explanation of events, I am inclined to move on and get back to business.
“We are still in the middle of a national public health crisis. The focus now should return to that, without this distraction.
He added: “I have always said that it would be significantly harder task to get the country out of lockdown than it was to go into lockdown in the first place because that easing would need to be done in stages.
“We need our best minds working on these issues, and whatever anyone’s opinions of Mr Cummings’ actions, it is undeniable that he falls into this category as a formidable intellect with an ability to just get things done.
“We need people who can just get things done now more than ever.”
An opinion poll has shown that Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s approval rating has dropped by 20 points since the story emerged, while a majority think Mr Cummings should lose his job.
The UK Government adviser has faced repeated calls to resign after it was discovered he had driven his child and ill wife from London to County Durham during lockdown.
He told a news conference on Monday he did not regret his actions, and believed he acted legally.
He also justified driving his family to the town of Barnard Castle by claiming he was testing his eyesight to see if he could safely go back to London.
When approached for his view on Mr Cummings’ actions, the leader of the Conservative group on Flintshire Council said he felt he “didn’t think it through” but stopped short of asking him to step down.
Hawarden councillor Clive Carver said: “I must admit I’m very much in agreement with Douglas Ross MP, who resigned earlier today.
“As he said, there are constituents who didn’t get to say goodbye to love ones, families who could not mourn together and people who didn’t visit sick relatives because they followed the guidance of the government. That sums up my view as well.
“He (Cummings) is not an elected member or person. He’s someone who has a salaried job so he can only be asked to resign or be sacked.
“It’s not an issue for the public to vote on. It is up to those who employ him to make that decision.”
The Local Democracy Reporting Service has approached both Wrexham MP Sarah Atherton and Clwyd South MP Simon Baynes to comment on the issue.
However, neither had replied at the time of publishing. Wrexham Council’s Conservative group leader Hugh Jones was also asked to respond.
Liam Randall – Local Democracy Reporter (more here).
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