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Mr Cummings yesterday took the extraordinary step of coming to Downing Street to read a statement about his decision to drive 260 miles to the North East, together with his wife and child, after his wife fell ill. He justified his decision by saying he believed his trip was necessary to ensure they were near relatives in case they needed childcare – but the controversy rumbles on, with junior minister Douglas Ross today resigning in protest at Mr Cummings’ apparent ignoring of the guidelines.
Additionally, a swiftly-deleted message carried on the Government’s official Civil Service account in apparent response to Boris Johnson’s defence of Mr Cummings during the coronavirus briefing on Saturday simply said: “Arrogant and offensive. Can you imagine working with these truth twisters?”
Writing in the Guardian, an unnamed civil servant, whom the newspaper says works in a Whitehall department, said: “This was speaking truth to power.
“This was a shot across the bow. This was a tiny flare sent up from the government trenches, in solidarity with anyone who has ever felt like they’ve been ‘sent over the top’ by an implacable ruling class for whom the rules themselves are increasingly a disposable commodity.”
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The author said they hoped the person who wrote the tweet was never identified, stressing that if they were “he or she should qualify for the protection that the government by law has to provide for whistleblowers, who, after all, are allowed to break government omerta when there are miscarriages of justice, fraud, dangers to health and safety, or attempts to conceal any of the above”.
They added: “If there’s any justice, if my colleague is uncovered, he or she will face the same consequences as the prime minister’s chief adviser did, which will be b****r all (although Durham police might have other ideas).”
The whole affair emphasised the “deteriorating trust in government, its conventions and its institutions”, the civil servant argued.
They said: “There is now no longer even the pretence that the British public are currently governed by the law of moral equivalence – the radical idea that whatever is wrong for you must also be wrong for me.”
Civil servants and the public had both been left “shocked, dismayed and enraged” by the efforts made by the cabinet and Mr Johnson himself to make excuses for Mr Cummings, the civil servant said.
They added: “As ever, it’s not the rule-breaking itself that hurts us, it’s the lack of concern about the damage being done to cover it up.
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“Only time and the public inquiry that is surely coming down the line will tell the true extent of this.
“It’s entirely plausible that the undermining of the lockdown rules so carefully set out by public health officials may yet be counted in lives lost.
“Meanwhile, the sobering reality for the civil service twitterer is that the Cabinet Office praetorian guard will spend more energy trying to identify them than it ever will on investigating Cummings’s lockdown misdeeds.
“The hunt may now be on, but the resistance continues.”
Mr Ross, Under Secretary of State for Scotland, said in a statement issued this morning: “There was much I still hoped to do in this role but events over the last few days mean I can no longer serve as a member of this Government.
“I have never met Dominic Cummings so my judgment on this matter has always been open and I accept his statement on Monday afternoon clarified the actions he took in what he felt were the best interests of his family.
“However, these were decisions many others felt were not available to them.
“As a father myself, my instinct is to always do what is best for my son and wife. We have been fortunate not to have caught this awful virus but, if we did, we are prepared to follow the government advice and stay at home to contain this virus.
“While the intentions may have been well-meaning, the reaction to this news shows that Mr Cummings’ interpretation of the government advice was not shared by the vast majority of people who have done as the Government asked.”
Bookmakers Coral is currently offering odds of 1-5 on Mr Cummings still being in his post on June 1, compared with odds of 3-1 on him resigning or being sacked by the end of the month.
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