Just a couple of months ago I was looking forward to meeting you to discuss working together on environmental matters in Copeland. Our meeting was postponed due to the pandemic. Regrettably, I am writing to inform you we no longer need to reschedule.
I was delighted when you became one of the few Conservative MPs to publicly support the Divest Parliament campaign – a campaign to divest the MP Pension Fund from fossil fuels and invest instead in renewables. Despite our political differences, I had always thought that when push came to shove, you would do the right thing. Unfortunately your behaviour over the past few days has proved me wrong.
Several weeks ago on BBC Radio Cumbria, you were pleading with the people of our constituency to follow the very clear, and very simple guidelines: stay home, protect the NHS, save lives. And yet on Tuesday, you were quite happy to take to the airwaves to defend Dominic Cummings’ actions. You glibly asserted that he knew the rules better than most and that what he did was entirely within the guidelines for anyone who had bothered to read the smallprint.
I did read the smallprint. And along with dozens of your colleagues – including your neighbouring MP John Stevenson – I came quickly to the same view as Durham Constabulary that Dominic Cummings indeed broke the rules of the lockdown. The rules that he, himself, co-authored. Hundreds of thousands of people have found themselves in the same position as Dominic Cummings, and many of them in less privileged circumstances. If everyone had adopted the same reckless disregard for the rules as Mr Cummings, there would have scarcely been a lockdown.
However, to be frank, this isn’t really about whether or not Dominic Cummings broke the rules. As many commentators have pointed out, Mr Cummings – along with your Prime Minister – could have issued an apology, conceded that the circumstances he found himself in had clouded his judgement and led him to break the rules. Mr Johnson could have stated that he had accepted Mr Cummings’ apology, that he didn’t feel it necessary for him to lose his job, and that he considered the matter closed. No doubt there would still have been a significant degree of criticism, but this would at least have shown a degree of respect for the British public.
Instead, your Government has burnt all its political capital trying to suggest that Mr Cummings did nothing wrong. And that it was perfectly reasonable to make a round trip of over an hour to test his eyesight. All this while stopping off at a beauty spot, coincidentally on his wife’s birthday.
And while your colleague Michael Gove might find this funny, as he descended into giggling trying to claim he would drive 30 miles to test his eyesight on LBC, I don’t find our excess death toll rising above 60,000 to be a laughing matter.
To add insult to injury, Dominic Cummings used the absurd platform he was given on Monday to tell a provable, barefaced lie to the British public. He said that rumours in the media about him not taking the global pandemic seriously weren’t true, and indeed that he had written a blog post warning about potential coronavirus outbreaks last year. This is not true. He in fact edited a blog post from last year, after he got back from Durham, to make it look like he had written about coronaviruses. And incidentally the passages he added were lifted from another author’s work from March 2019. So if he was quite happy to lie about this to millions of people on national television, why should we assume anything he said was true?
Watching you and your colleagues fecklessly attempt to make it sound as though Dominic Cummings has acted with valour and decency has been one of the most stomach-churning and sickening things I have ever witnessed. You have treated the British public with contempt and have lost all credibility in the process. I no longer believe your Government has my best interests, or those of my compatriots, as its top priority.
I couldn’t be more furious and disappointed with the utter misery that your Prime Minister has inflicted on this country at its time of greatest need.