From Cummings to Ferrier: politicians who flouted Covid guidance

Caroline Davies
·3-min read
<span>Photograph: Yui Mok/PA</span>
Photograph: Yui Mok/PA

Margaret Ferrier’s Covid-19 weekend breached so many regulations, it is hard to find one the SNP MP abided by. She joins myriad world leaders and other political figures in a growing coronavirus league of infamy.

Brazen world leaders

South Africa’s president, Cyril Ramaphosa, posed for a selfie with two women who approached him in the street, thus breaking social distancing measures. Laughing, he joked to the women: “Come, before we get arrested.” He wasn’t arrested but he was videoed, sparking public outrage.

Poland’s prime minister, Mateusz Morawiecki, apologised after posing for officially photographs with staff in a restaurant, when his own advice to others was to dine out only with close family members.

The Czech Republic president, Miloš Zeman, was investigated after being photographed with others at a dining table, at a time when gatherings of more than two people from different households were banned. While all solemnly wore masks in the picture, they were also eating lunch.

With no scientific basis whatsoever, Alexander Lukashenko, the president of Belarus, advocated citizens drink vodka and enjoy saunas to “poison the virus”. He also notoriously dismissed Covid as “mass psychosis”. When he caught it, he recovered “on his feet”, he boasted, without showing any symptoms.

Caught-out UK MPs

The housing secretary, Robert Jenrick, travelled between London and his Herefordshire home during lockdown in April, and then visited his Shropshire-based isolating parents, too. He insisted he was delivering food and medicine to them.

The Aberavon MP Stephen Kinnock tweeted a photo of a visit to his dad, the former Labour leader Neil Kinnock, for his 78th birthday, providing ample proof of lockdown travel, although the family were socially distancing in the snap. It earned a public scolding from South Wales police.

Danny Kruger, the MP for Devizes, issued an apology after a fellow train passenger photographed him maskless on the Hungerford to Paddington service last month.

The prime minister’s father

Stanley Johnson has displayed a somewhat relaxed attitude towards his son’s Covid-19 proclamations. Immediately after the government advised against all but essential travel, he flew to his Greek villa to make it “Covid-proof”.

Related: Margaret Ferrier: Covid rules the MP broke carry potential fines

This week he was busted again, this time photographed without a face covering as he went to pick up a newspaper in west London. He escaped a fine as police said it was a first offence. Johnson, 79, later apologised, saying he was “maybe not 100% up to date with the virus restrictions”.

Classic Dom

For sheer obfuscation, and for services to tourism, the No 10 henchman Dominic Cummings tops the league. He drove 260 miles from London to Durham with his wife, who had suspected Covid symptoms, before developing symptoms himself, and then “tested his eyesight” by driving to the picturesque town of Barnard Castle.

The scandal spawned many memes, an eye test chart, a specially named beer - and earned the grateful thanks of the local tourist office.