'He made people feel like fools': Newsnight's Emily Maitlis slams Dominic Cummings

Emily Maitlis is the host of BBC's 'Newsnight'. (Getty Images)
Emily Maitlis is the host of BBC's Newsnight. (Getty Images)

Emily Maitlis has accused Boris Johnson of “blind loyalty” as she addressed the “deep national disquiet” caused by Dominic Cummings’ breach of lockdown rules.

With withering condemnation, the Newsnight presenter summed up in just one minute the controversy surrounding the government adviser’s refusal to apologise or resign for breaking quarantine rules,

Maitlis, 49, opened the BBC current affairs programme by saying: “Dominic Cummings broke the rules. The country can see that, and it’s shocked the government cannot.

Read more: Vicar puts government on spot over lockdown fines

"He was the man, remember, who always got the public mood, who tagged the lazy label of elite on those who disagreed. He should understand that public mood one now: one of fury, contempt and anguish.

"He made those who struggled to keep to the rules feel like fools, and has allowed many more to assume they can now flout them.

"The prime minister knows all this, but despite the resignation of one minister, growing unease from his backbenchers, a dramatic early warning from the polls and a deep national disquiet, Boris Johnson has chosen to ignore it."

She added: “Tonight we consider what this blind loyalty tells us about the workings of Number 10. We do not expect to be joined by a government minister, but it won’t stop us asking the questions.”

Maitlis won praise on social media for her scathing critique of the government response to the Cumming scandal.

One Twitter user wrote: “OK, that is an opening... @maitlis tells it how it is.”

Another tweeted: “Savage brilliance from @maitlis #newsnight.”

Labour MP David Lammy described Maitlis’s opening as: “Public service broadcasting.”

CAMBRIDGE, ENGLAND - OCTOBER 05:  Emily Maitlis addresses students at the Cambridge Union Society on October 5, 2015 in Cambridge, England.  (Photo by Chris Williamson/Getty Images)
Emily Maitlis has won praise for 'telling it like it is'. (Getty Images)

Cummings, a senior aide to Johnson, has been under increasing public scrutiny after it emerged he drove 260 miles from London to his parents’ home in Durham during lockdown.

The government adviser said in a press conference that he and his wife had believed they were coming down with coronavirus and needed help caring for their son.

Read more: Gary Lineker thinks Dominic Cummings should just say sorry

He also claimed a 30-mile trip from Durham to local beauty spot Barnard Castle was in order to test his eyesight before he made the long drive back to London.

During lockdown the government initially asked people not to leave their homes except for essential food shopping, medical treatment, to go to work if they were unable to work from home, and once a day for exercise.

However, if anyone was showing symptoms then everyone in their household was asked to stay at home for 14 days’ isolation, to prevent spread of the disease.