PM Boris grilled on adviser row but won’t budge
Prime Minister Boris Johnson faced forensic questions on the conduct of his controversial chief adviser Dominic Cummings from members of the Liaison Committee of the House of Commons on Wednesday, but refused to budge on supporting him in the face of demands to sack him.
Johnson and Cummings have been the subject of considerable anger and more across the UK for the latter breaching curbs imposed to deal with coronavirus. Johnson was accused by MPs of putting national health at risk by endangering public trust in official guidance by not dismissing the aide.
Johnson again refused to order an inquiry into Cummings’ actions to drive over 260 miles in end-March when his family had virus symptoms, and when official advice was to stay at home. According to him, the inquiry would not be a good use of official time.
Repeating that public discourse should now “move on”, Johnson said he understood the anger and indignation of millions of Britons who have flooded email inboxes of MPs on the issue. But he did not think that the row would encourage people to break guidance.
He told MPs: “I know there is a great political interest in this and I totally understand the public indignation, but... I have said what I have said about the whole business and it would be much better if we could move on.”
Nearly 40 Conservative MPs have openly asked Johnson to dismiss Cummings in order to dispel the growing impression – as borne out in opinion polls – that there is one rule for those in power and another for the people.
The government is due to announce its latest assessment of the stage at which the UK is in dealing with the virus on Thursday. As of Wednesday, there have been 37,460 deaths and 267,240 cases in the UK, making it the worst affected in Europe.