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Tory leader at Cornwall Council backs Dominic Cummings

Tory leader at Cornwall Council backs Dominic Cummings

Published by Sarah Yeoman at 7:22am 27th May 2020.

Written by Richard Whitehouse, Local Democracy Reporter

The leader of the Conservative group at Cornwall Council says she has not had a single comment from anyone locally about the actions of Dominic Cummings.

Mr Cummings, senior advisor to Prime Minister Boris Johnson, admitted at the weekend that he had driven from London to his parents’ home in County Durham when he thought he and his wife may have had Covid-19 symptoms.

He claimed that he had made the journey as he could not get childcare for their four-year-old son.

Mr Cummings said he did not regret his decisions and he has been backed by the Prime Minister.

His actions have been criticised by many as they went against the government guidance at the time – late March – to stay at home.

Linda Taylor, leader of the Conservative group at County Hall, said she thought there was “sympathy” for Mr Cummings.

She said: “I can honestly say I have not had a single person contact me about this. I think until we heard the full story I think there was sympathy for him.

“His son has got autism and that is one of the factors. We all know that if you have got an autistic child how difficult it is.

“For some people, when I am listening to the radio and TV, some people are disappointed but I have had nobody make contact with me about this issue.

“There was an interview with people in the area of Barnard Castle on TV and there was a feeling of ‘OK he has explained and we think it wasn’t right but can we get on, there are more important things going on’.

“Dominic Cummings has never been a friend of the press. I do feel there are certain elements of the press, regardless of what happens, which will try and extend this.”

Asked whether she agreed with the decision to keep Mr Cummings in post she said:

“I think the decision is down to the Prime Minister. I think Dominic Cummings has and continues to make a huge contribution to what the government is doing to cope with Covid-19 and all the other initiatives.

“I will be guided by the Prime Minister and what decision he makes. He was clearly sympathetic to the case. If Boris is happy to keep him in post then that is fine with me.”

We asked Cllr Taylor if she was concerned that Mr Cummings’ actions had undermined the message from the government and, particularly here in Cornwall, for people to remain at home and not visit places or stay overnight.

She said: “I think, at the end of the day, it is all about discretion and staying safe.

“If some people perceive that Dominic Cummings has not adhered to the rule I don’t think it’s going to give anybody the opportunity to say ‘if it’s good enough for him I can do it’.

“People are being sensible. There are other cases where other people have gone travelling but for whatever reason they have not been reported in this way. Because it is Dominic Cummings and he is the author of the guidance people are treating it differently.

“I honestly think that people are going to be sensible. There are people who will be disappointed but I do believe the Prime Minister is supporting him and there are more important things to deal with at the moment.”

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