Labour has said that the government is sending the message that “it’s one rule for Boris Johnson’s closest adviser, another for everybody else” in response to the Dominic Cummings statement.
The Prime Minister’s senior adviser delivered a statement and answered questions from the press in the Downing Street Rose Garden this afternoon, and neither resigned nor apologised.
Cummings confirmed that he did drive from London to Durham during lockdown with his wife who was ill and his child, and explained that he did so because he was seeking childcare.
He also claimed that he drove for 30 minutes from his parents’ home in Durham to Barnard Castle, with his family in the car, in order to test his eyesight after being ill.
He said that he did not check whether anyone in London could help he and his wife with childcare should that become necessary if they were too ill to look after their four-year-old child.
Cummings said: “I don’t regret what I did and, as I said, I think reasonable people may well disagree about how I thought about what to do in those circumstances but I think what I did was actually reasonable.”
He told journalists, “I make mistakes every day”, and added that he had not offered his resignation to the Prime Minister and had not considered the possibility of doing so.
Commenting on the statement, a Labour spokesperson said: “The British people were looking for at least an apology from Dominic Cummings for breaking the lockdown. They got none.
“Millions of people have made extraordinary sacrifices during the lockdown. Families have been forced apart, sometimes in the most tragic of circumstances. They stayed at home to protect the NHS and save lives.
“And yet, the message from this government is clear: it’s one rule for Boris Johnson’s closest adviser, another for everybody else.”
Scottish Labour leader Richard Leonard said: “What is particularly upsetting for people listening to his statement is that they have followed the lockdown rules, while Dominic Cummings did not.
“Some people have missed the chance to spend final moments with a loved one, some have missed their loved ones’ funerals. Some have had no help with childcare, despite illness. Some people’s sacrifices during this time will leave a lasting trauma.
“Dominic Cummings has not apologised for his actions. He stands by his decision to put other peoples’ lives in danger, showing he believes he is above the rules everyone else is following.
“Boris Johnson’s handling of this situation has been unacceptable. Dominic Cummings should be sacked immediately.”
Lisa Nandy, Labour’s new Shadow Foreign Secretary, tweeted during the statement: “Wow. He really is saying he’s too important to follow the rules”.
Jonathan Reynolds tweeted: “He has confirmed at least one breach of the rules and added some possible further breaches. Whatever your view on whether that’s a resignation issue, you’d think he would apologise”.
Justin Madders, an opposition frontbencher as a member of Labour’s health team, tweeted: “If Cummings gave that story to the Prime Minister yesterday and then decided to stand by him then his judgement is even worse than I thought”.