Conservative MPs have witnessed a ‘mailbox rebellion’ over Boris Johnson’s decision to publicly support Dominic Cummings. Douglas Ross, the junior minister for Scotland, has since become the first Tory MP to resign over Mr Cummings’ decision to not step down following revelations about his trip to Durham during the height of lockdown.
With the Prime Minister now facing his own ‘poll tax moment’, what impact could Mr Johnson’s decision to support his special adviser have on the public’s adherence to lockdown measures?
Telegraph readers had their say on whether the remarkable events of the past few days could risk the lockdown fraying and have also shared their opinions on whether the PM’s special adviser should have resigned.
Read on to see what your fellow readers have had to say and share your thoughts in the comments section below.
'It's irrelevant - move on!'
Clive in Milton Keynes:
"Six weeks on from the events in question, this story is irrelevant. The people who recognised Dominic Cummings didn’t take six weeks to realise who he was. The whole thing has become news now because the media realise the Prime Minister is more vulnerable than he was six weeks ago.
"If it has an impact on the public’s adherence to the lockdown now, it is because of the obsession the media have with bringing him down, and the resulting focus they have put on events of six weeks ago. The real question is whether his actions affected the public’s adherence six weeks ago when we were at ‘the peak’. Clearly not because those who saw him kept quiet until they could make more mischief. Move on!"
'There are now big trust issues'
"Cummings should have reported the visits openly. The day trip to Barnard Castle is the event that dammed him for me. Once that came to light, Boris should have sacked him. There are big trust issues now for the swathes of not usual Conservative voters who like me 'leant' him our votes in the last election."
'It highlights how unclear government guidelines were but we need Cummings to stay'
Ronen in North London:
"We find it abhorrent especially as we learn of the sacrifices the British people all took adhering to the lockdown rules which he helped in draw up. It's hypocrisy at its height. The Prime Minister seems to deny any wrongdoing by Cummings and is at odds with pretty much everyone over it. Perhaps this scandal highlights how unclear government guidelines were?
"I don't think he should resign. With a large majority, I'm not too sure the pressure requires Boris to do so either. For the PM to defend him, it just goes to show you how important he is to Number 10. At a time of such crisis, we shouldn't make governing more difficult. The government needs him and ultimately so do we. This, however, should not go without an apology and it won't be forgotten soon."
'It would have helped if he had apologised'
Nic in Shropshire:
"Looking at the reaction from some areas, it seems well nigh impossible for many people to pick a path between the faux outrage of those who hate Dominic Cummings regardless and what appear to be the actions of someone in a dark place where the walls are closing in.
"To be fair to him, his has a reasonable explanation, however it would have helped him greatly if he had apologised and said he should have been more upfront about going to Durham before he actually went. People should also remember Cummings isn’t in the government, he’s just another adviser."
'He stretched the lockdown guidelines to their very limits'
"Mr Cummings stretched the spirit of the government's lockdown guidelines to their very limits and the credibility of his Barnard Castle story stretched us all a little further. But should he resign? No.
"If I was in his position with a child and with the horrible uncertainty of this illness looming I think I might have done the same. Should evidence of a second trip on or around April 19 come to light then I think he's going to have a much bigger problem.
"But would Mr Johnson really have taken such a punt on standing by him if there was even a remote possibility of that? Surely not even Boris is that big of a gambler? Would Tories be baying for blood and acting out the pantomimes of outrage if a Labour advisor made the same decisions and offered the same stories as Mr Cummings? Oh yes they would."
'An unacceptable level of arrogance'
Ian Roberts in Huddersfield:
"Dominic Cummings should resign. There are many things wrong with his behaviour. Driving 260 miles for ‘childcare’ is madness under any circumstances and is not what I would expect of anyone in his position.
"The fact that he never considered resigning shows an unacceptable level of arrogance. Finally, since when was it okay to drive 60 miles to test your eyesight? If you’re not fit to drive, you’re not fit to drive, period. He felt a bit sick after driving 30 miles to Barnard Castle but that convinced them he was okay to drive 260 the next day."
'A smear campaign to remove the key architect of Brexit'
Melinda in West Sussex:
"There is no way he should go. He has clearly stated that he has acted within the rules, he had numerous reasons to fall under the ‘ exceptional circumstances’ guidelines. Least of a all, the threat of violence at his London home.
"Cummings' position is probably one of the most important positions in government at this time. And therein lies the crux of the matter, he is the key to Vote Leave and Brexit. With it looking even more likely that we have a ‘ no deal’ the rebel MPs are being drawn out - what better chance to get rid of Cummings than trying to smear him?
"Using a virus that actually makes people very ill or even die as a way to manipulate the masses is disgusting in my opinion. Furthermore those that oppose the Boris government will now use this saga as a reason to flout any of the restrictions put in place in order to keep us safe."
'Embodies the cliché that there are different rules for the ruling class'
Isti from Hornchurch, Essex:
"Dominic Cummings' action plays towards the broader cliché that there are different rules for the ruling class. The ineptitude demonstrated by himself, and his wife, challenges the very nature of Cummings' ability to render sound advice to the executive.
"In truth, if I was his personal adviser, I would suggest that he waits for time to pass and the mist to blow over. His situation is not unlike that of Robert Jenrick's, apart from a few changing dynamics. Henceforth, he may be able to escape public pressure to resign if he holds firm and treads carefully. "
'We have all experienced bending of the rules'
Ian in Cheshire:
"He should stay. It appears he has acted within the guidelines and, on the face of it, had a very real and distressing family dilemma to contend with. Given the intense fears around Covid-19, that would have been surrounding him, I’m sure the couple felt he could best manage the situation with his child near to people who could support his family and be away from the distractions of the capital.
"The couple appear to have acted within the best interests of his family. Had this emerged during the time, all the nuances, which are important, would have been lost in the hysteria and baying for his blood would have been most intense when the Government and country was in an extremely vulnerable place.
"I don’t believe it will make any difference to people’s behaviour, we can all give accounts of transgressions and bending of the rules that we have seen - we are in a place where people are being trusted and it appears that the vast majority are and that’s what counts in reducing infection."
'He has altered the dynamic of the lockdown'
Paul Murphy in Ingatestone:
"Of course Cummings should resign and of course he has altered the dynamic of the lockdown. The fact that Sir Peter Fahy has said that police would definitely have told him to turn around if they had seen him is proof of that. Where were the police during Dom's little jaunt anyway?
"Boris Johnson is the most incompetent Prime Minister our country has ever had but he is still, inconceivably, scraping by because the unelected Cummings is the de facto PM.
"Brexit was Dom, 350million was Dom, lockdown criteria was Dom, everything is Dom working for a figure-head PM. Never again will I look upon England as a democratic country. "