Over the past few days I have received hundreds of emails regarding the actions of Dominic Cummings and his family, with the full range of views represented. I have tried to ascertain the facts about what has happened in the same way that many of you have. I did not think it was helpful for me to comment before the facts were known.
The past few months have been very difficult for everyone and really appalling for those who have been very ill or lost family members. We have all been struggling. Every family has given up a great deal to follow the lockdown rules. My father-in-law wasn’t able to go to his brother’s funeral; we will not be celebrating my niece’s first birthday as a family at the weekend, and I am desperate to visit my 97-year old Granny who lives alone and whose chair lift broke last week. Real sacrifices have been made by so many, particularly those who daily put themselves at risk in our frontline services.
Dominic Cummings is not someone I know. At the weekend he gave a full account of what he had done when he and his wife had suffered symptoms. Having had coronavirus myself back in March, I do know how unwell you feel even with average symptoms. I’m sure that it does not make for good decision making. It is clear that many of us would not have taken the same view of the rules as the Cummings family (and indeed did not at the time) but he gave a full explanation of his actions. Ultimately whether or not he keeps his job is not a matter for me; it is a matter for the Prime Minister. He has clearly decided that at this moment of national crisis, he needs his advisor to remain in post, and that he is satisfied by his explanation. I do not feel there is any merit in continuing to push this matter any further.
What we must do is carry on with what we have done for the last few months; namely follow the guidelines to save lives. The numbers of infections and deaths are falling, and I really hope that this means that we will be able to transition to a relaxation of the rules over the next few weeks. Some children going back to school is a positive step in the right direction.
The details of Dominic Cummings’s trip have dominated the media for the past few days. I really think that we should re-focus our minds on working hard to beat this pandemic. I’m chairing the taskforce on feeding the vulnerable, which presents daily challenges. The community spirit which has been shown by so many is really heartening. I really hope we can think about that and move forward in a positive way.