The ongoing controversy over the issue of Dominic Cummings, the senior adviser of UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson, breaking the stay-at-home order amid the COVID-19 pandemic might undermine the UK government's stance on Brexit in the long run, Neil Hamilton, a member of Wales' legislature, told Sputnik on Wednesday
LONDON (Pakistan Point News / Sputnik - 27th May, 2020) The ongoing controversy over the issue of Dominic Cummings, the senior adviser of UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson, breaking the stay-at-home order amid the COVID-19 pandemic might undermine the UK government's stance on Brexit in the long run, Neil Hamilton, a member of Wales' legislature, told Sputnik on Wednesday.
Cummings, his wife and their child traveled 260 miles from London to the northeastern city of Durham in late March to stay with his parents after his wife started displaying COVID-19 symptoms. Cummings's trip went against government guidance. The aide said that he was not considering resignation despite the public outcry, stressing that he and his wife were guided by the desire to guarantee that the child would be safe even if they both fell ill. Johnson and leading cabinet ministers have supported Cummings, saying that he acted responsibly.
"I'm a great admirer of Dominic Cummings and I think he is Boris [Johnson's] backbone on Brexit, so I would be very sad to lose him from Number 10 [Downing Street]. But he has put himself and the government in an impossible position," Hamilton, the UK Independence Party (UKIP) leader in Wales, said.
"I do think that in these circumstances it is difficult for him to survive. But the practical impact of that could be very dangerous when it comes to the realisation of Brexit. So it's stupidity, thoughtlessness and arrogance with contempt for other people's feelings that lies at the heart of this," the UKIP member said.
Hamilton also argued that it was likely that Cummings would now be effectively forced to resign, claiming that his position was increasingly vulnerable amid the pressure from the ruling conservative party.
"It may be that in these very vague rules and guidelines that he could claim a justification for what he did, but the reality is that the public believe it is one rule for them and another rule for the rest of us. So with Dominic Cummings he should have realised right from the start the people were not going to look favourably on what he has done, so he has undermined the government's message, and when the messenger becomes the message you know that he has failed," the lawmaker added.
At least 30 lawmakers already called on Cummings to resign, while UK under secretary of state for Scotland and a member of parliament for Mooray, Douglas Ross, has announced his own resignation citing his inability to explain why the senior adviser to the prime minister broke the lockdown rules to his constituents.
The government's public opinion has also deteriorated in light of the scandal. According to a poll from the Savanta ComRes group, the approval of the government's handling of the pandemic and of the prime minister turned negative.
Matters escalated even further when it became known that Cummings had taken an additional trip from the family home in Durham to the vicinity of Barnham castle on April 12 prior to returning to London. Cummings has initially claimed the purpose of his movements was to "see if I could drive safely" following his recovery from COVID-like symptoms.
According to Hamilton, not many conservative lawmakers would continue to support Cummings amid the public outcry.
"We have been here before. Those of us like me who have been around a long time have seen this before. It depends whether Boris [Johnson] is prepared to tough it out. The trouble is though that there are so many gerbils on the Tory backbenchers [lawmakers who occupy no government office] nibbling away at this that he may feel that Cummings can not survive. It all depends on whether enough Tory backbencher MPs [lawmakers can be mustered to support Cummings. And I don't see that happening," the UKIP member said.