40 Tory MPs call for Dominic Cummings to quit as party rebellion grows
26 May 2020, 15:13 | Updated: 26 May 2020, 18:11
Pressure on Dominic Cummings to resign shows no sign of relenting as dozens of Tory MPs step up calls for him to quit.
A total of 40 Conservative MPs from all wings of the party have now publicly rebelled to demand Boris Johnson’s top aide goes over his 260-mile trip to Durham during lockdown.
These include eight former ministers and two select committee chairs, as well as newly elected Tory MPs from former Red Wall seats.
The fresh blow comes as Douglas Ross, the junior Scotland Office minister, resigned from government earlier, saying Mr Cummings’ interpretation of the rules "was not shared by the majority".
The revolt comes as cross-party political leaders wrote to Boris Johnson this afternoon calling for Dominic Cummings to be fired “without further delay”.
The letter was signed by Sir Ed Davey, the Lib Dem leader, Ian Blackford, the SNP Westminster leader, and the leaders of Plaid Cymru, the Social Democratc and Labour Party, the Greens and the Alliance Party.
“This issue is now primarily a question of maintaining trust and confidence in public health advice,” the cross-party group wrote to the PM.
“...This is an issue that transcends politics. It has united people of every party and political persuasion, who believe strongly that it is now your responsibility as Prime Minister to return clarity and trust in public health messaging.
“We are clear that this can now only be achieved by removing Dominic Cummings from his post without further delay."
Mr Cummings, an unelected civil servant, held an extraordinary press conference on Monday 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 said, 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 admitted to driving a 60-mile round trip to Barnard Castle, claiming it was to test his eyesight, and briefly stopping on a river bank - despite the rest of the country being instructed by the PM to "stay at home”.
The decision to hold the conference has seemingly backfired, with a snap poll saying more of the public now saying they think Mr Cummings should resign than before he spoke out.
Downing Street hoped the unprecedented press conference would clear up the row that had brewed over the weekend, before Mr Ross became the first serving minister to quit.
The MP for Moray said in his resignation letter: "I have constituents who didn't get to say goodbye to their loved ones; families who could not mourn together; people who did not visit sick relatives because they followed the guidance of the government.
"I cannot in good faith tell them that they were all wrong and one senior adviser to the government was right."
The latest Tory to call for Mr Cummings to resign is Elliott Colburn, the MP for Carshalton and Wallington who entered Parliament in 2019, who said he was “deeply concerned” about the impact the affair could have on the “public engagement" with lockdown.
He told constituents in a statement: “After listening to that conference and listening to local constituents, it is clear that many feel his decision is not one that they would have come to, or have open to them in similar circumstances. I myself do not believe I would have come to such a decision, although I confess that neither myself nor my husband-to-be have children yet.
“...It is for these reasons, that I have written to the Prime Minister again today to express my view that Mr Cummings should resign.”
James Gray, Tory MP for North Wiltshire, added on Tuesday: “Mr Cummings’ questionable behaviour has undermined that trust. It can only be rebuilt if he now departs the scene.”
“Like you, I have felt a mixture of anger, disappointment and frustration in recent days,” he told his constituents. He said he had been contacted by "hundreds of people" about Mr Cummings.
Meanwhile, Harriet Baldwin, the Tory MP for West Worcestershire, said the government and its advisers should meet a “higher bar”.
William Wragg, the chairman of the public administration and constitutional affairs committee, tweeted: “We cannot throw away valuable public & political goodwill any longer. It’s humiliating & degrading to their office to see ministers put out agreed lines in defence of an adviser.”
A Downing Street spokesperson said this lunchtime that Mr Cummings had “answered questions extensively” and that further questions would “have to go elsewhere” as he was not the voice for special advisers.
Mr Cummings said he has “no regrets” about his actions and behaved “reasonably and legally”, adding that he had not offered his resignation nor considered it.
The full list of Tory MPs calling for Mr Cummings' resignation
Sir Roger Gale
Sir Robert Syms
Sir Bob Neill