A cabinet minister has admitted that Dominic Cummings’ trip to Barnard Castle undermined the government’s coronavirus response.
Appearing on Question Time, justice secretary Robert Buckland branded the episode “deeply unfortunate” when he was asked if he thought the prime minister’s former chief adviser had broken the rules over lockdown.
Although he said that Cummings was “no more” in politics, he acknowledged the actions of public figures and celebrities “has an impact” on behaviour.
Whilst Boris Johnson and Tory MPs stood by his former adviser, ministers have gone off-message about the incident since his departure from Downing Street.
On the programme, Buckland explained: “All of us have played our part in dealing with this virus and the government trusts people to do the right thing and we have a regime in place to deal with those cases where people have been behaving in a way that is clearly irresponsible.
“We’ve seen a lot of fines being issued and a lot of enforcement action…”
Labour MP Wes Streeting interrupted to say: “Didn’t work with Dominic Cummings though did it?”
But Buckland replied: “Well look, I take the point about personal responsibility, personal examples, I think that episodes like that whether its people who at some point have been involved in politics – no more – but you know, celebrities and other people, it clearly has an impact on all of us.”
After Streeting and fellow panellist Julia Hartley-Brewer pointed out it was clear he had broken the rules, he explained: “It was a deeply unfortunate episode. There is no doubt about that and it didn’t help when it came to creating a consistent message.”