Conservative MP resigns from government over Dominic Cummings scandal

26 May 2020, 09:33 | Updated: 26 May 2020, 10:43

Douglas Ross has resigned from the government
Douglas Ross has resigned from the government. Picture: PA

By Kate Buck

Conservative MP Douglas Ross has resigned from government over the controversy surrounding Dominic Cummings.

The junior minister for the Scotland office said Mr Cummings' view on the lockdown guidance "was not shared by the majority".

Mr Douglas said that he "accepted" Mr Cummings' statement and added it clarified he did what he "felt were the best interests of his family".

But Mr Douglas added he himself was a father and would have stayed at home if he and his wife had caught the virus, and added he had been contacted by constituents who had endured difficult situations by adhering to the government advice.

A statement from Downing Street in response to Mr Douglas leaving his post said: "The Prime Minister would like to thank Douglas Ross for his service to government and regrets his decision to stand down as Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Scotland.”

His resignation comes as Boris Johnson is coming under increasing pressure to fire Mr Cummings, although the Prime Minister has so far given his full support to his chief aide.

Mr Cummings - an unelected civil servant - took the unprecedented step of holding a press conference yesterday afternoon to answer allegations he had broken lockdown rules to travel 260-miles from London to Durham to self-isolate with his family when he and his wife fell ill.

The reason for this, he claimed, was because they were worried they would not be able to fully care for their young son if they were both ill, and wanted to be closer to family who had offered support.

But he came under further fire after admitting to driving 30-miles to Barnard Castle and briefing stopping on a river bank - despite the rest of the country being told to "Stay Home".

Mr Cummings said he had driven to the local beauty spot with his wife and young child in the car to "test his eyesight" before returning to London.

READ MORE: Michael Gove backs Dominic Cummings claim he drove 60-miles to 'test his eyesight'

READ MORE: Dominic Cummings' explanation 'damages public health advice' and 'confuses' police role

Mr Ross pictured with Boris Johnson
Mr Ross pictured with Boris Johnson. Picture: PA

But Mr Douglas said: "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.

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

His resignation also comes as at least 19 Tory MPs have said Mr Cummings should resign from his position, indicating a potential backbench rebellion.

Tory MP Simon Jupp, a member of the 2019 intake, suggested Dominic Cummings should consider his position.

In a Facebook message to his East Devon constituents he said: "Like you, I have felt a mixture of anger, disappointment and frustration in recent days.

"We are all making significant sacrifices and coping with situations we couldn't imagine just a few months ago."

He said he had been contacted by "hundreds of people" about Mr Cummings.

"Although I believe his actions were motivated by a father's desire to do what he felt was necessary to protect his family in exceptional circumstances, if placed in the same situation I wouldn't have made the same decisions and would have since considered my position.

"I will continue to share my views and those of my constituents with the party leadership. This has been a deeply unhelpful distraction we could do without as a nation dealing with a pandemic."

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