British PM Boris minister quits over aide controversy

Wednesday, May 27th, 2020 00:00 |
Douglas Ross a minister for Scotland who resigned. Photo/Courtesy

London, Tuesday

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s government was hit by its first resignation on Tuesday over the controversy surrounding his top aide Dominic Cummings’ cross-country trip during the coronavirus lockdown.

Undermining attempts by ministers to try and move on from the crisis which has dominated British politics for days, Douglas Ross, a minister for Scotland, quit in protest.

I have constituents who didn’t get to say goodbye to loved ones; families who could not mourn together; people who didn’t visit sick relatives because they followed the guidance of the government,” he said in a Twitter statement announcing his departure.

“I cannot in good faith tell them they were all wrong and one senior advisor to the government was right.”

He added that Cummings’ interpretation of government rules was “not shared by the vast majority of people”.

The resignation will pile more pressure on Cummings, who held an extraordinary press conference on Monday to justify driving his wife and young son on a 425-kilometre trip from London to Durham in the northeast of England during the height of the coronavirus crisis.

Cummings has said he had the virus around the time of the trip, and his wife was confirmed as having contracted Covid-19.

Not long after Ross quit, Harriet Baldwin joined a growing list of Conservative MPs calling on Cummings to resign.

Another MP, Mark Pawsey, said Cummings had acted “against the spirit of the lockdown” and should be sacked, while MP William Wragg tweeted that the government was throwing away “political goodwill” over the scandal.

Tory party grandee Michael Heseltine told Sky News that “the lack of credibility” in Cummings’ version of events was “damaging the government.”

A YouGov poll taken after Cummings’ press conference found that 59 per cent of respondents thought he should resign, up from 52 per cent.

More that two-thirds,71 per cent, thought he had broken the government’s lockdown rules .  -AFP

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