Somerset MPs back Dominic Cummings despite calls for him to resign

James Heappey, John Penrose and Liam Fox all backed triggering Article 50.

James Heappey, John Penrose and Liam Fox all backed triggering Article 50. - Credit: Archant

Conservative MPs in Somerset continue to back Boris Johnson’s top aide, Dominic Cummings for breaking lockdown laws, despite increasing pressure from within the party and from the public for him to resign.

John Penrose (Conservatives. Picture: MARK ATHERTON

John Penrose (Conservatives. Picture: MARK ATHERTON - Credit: Archant

Mr Cummings drove from London to Durham because he faced a ‘tricky situation’ with childcare after fearing he and his wife may have had Covid-19 at the time on March 27.

He has refused to apologise or resign and told reporters on Monday he believed he had acted ‘reasonably’ and legally in going to stay on his parents’ farm, adding he does not think ‘there is one rule for me and one rule for other people’.

Junior minister, Douglas Ross resigned in protest over Mr Cummings’ actions, stating ‘Cummings took actions and made decisions many others felt were not available to them’.

While 44 Conservative MPs from across the country have called for Mr Cummings to resign or be fired.

Dr Liam Fox MP

Dr Liam Fox MP - Credit: Archant

However, North Somerset MP, Liam Fox, in a statement to constituents, branded the events of the past week as a ‘distraction’ and said ‘the advisers the Prime Minister chooses to employ are a matter for him’ and said he was ‘pleased’ with Mr Johnson’s performance before the liason committee, and was ‘pleased to hear the Prime Minister was ‘sorry for the pain and anxiety felt by people’, but would have liked to have ‘heard a similar sentiment expressed by Mr Cummings’, and felt ‘his delay in coming forward with an explanation had added to the Government’s difficulties’.

Dr Fox said he was ‘deeply sorry’ recent events had made it more difficult for constituents who felt disappointed and frustrated about their own personal sacrifices.

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He said: “I am particularly grateful to those who set out in detail the difficulties faced by their own families and I have fully reflected these views in the comments I have made to the Government.”

Dr Fox also stated he felt there had been a ‘clearly orchestrated campaign to try to oust Mr Cummings for other political reasons’.

Conservative candidate James Heappey. Picture: Eleanor Young

Conservative candidate James Heappey. Picture: Eleanor Young - Credit: Eleanor Young

He added: “There are those who are also claiming that because they believe Mr Cummings allegedly broke the guidelines, they are entitled to do so in future.

“Firstly, the law remains in place for all of us to obey – and no one is above the law – and those who break the law should expect the authorities to take the appropriate action.

“Secondly, to claim that Mr Cummings acted irresponsibly and then repeat the same actions is clearly hypocritical.

“It may be true that coverage of this episode has made it more difficult for the Government when it comes to public health messaging, but the overriding truth is that continuing adherence to the guidelines is in the public interest for us all.”

He also declined to say whether Cummings should resign instaed stating: “As regards my advice to, and conversations with, the Prime Minister, that will remain confidential, as I would no more break that confidence then I would make public any correspondence with a constituent.”

Wells MP James Heappey tweeted on Saturday: “Our plan if we both got badly ill at same time was to ask family to bring over kids meals and otherwise muddle through. But our family live nearby in Somerset and our kids are a few years older.

“If we didn’t have local family and the kids were younger, pretty sure we’d have done as Dom did.”

Jacob Rees-Mogg, the MP for North East Somerset and leader of the House of Commons, added on the same day: “Caring for your child is obviously reasonable.

“Surely any parent of a three-year-old would want to ensure they are safe at all times. Politically motivated attacks on a good father are discreditable.”

But David Warburton, the MP for Somerton and Frome, was less convinced when he took to Twitter on Sunday (May 24).

He said: “As much as I despise any baying pitchfork-led trials by social media, I’m unconvinced by the PM’s defence of Cummings.

“We’ve all been tasked with tempering our parental, and other, instincts by strictly adhering to government guidance.”

Earlier this month one of the Government’s chief coronavirus advisors, Prof Neil Ferguson resigned after breaking lockdown rules, and in April, Scotland’s chief medical officer Dr Catherine Calderwood resigned after making two trips to her second home during lockdown.

Weston MP John Penrose was approached for comment, but had not responded at time of going to press.

Dr Fox’s full statement can be found here.