Minister accused of 'double standards' over SNP MP after defending Dominic Cummings

Tory cabinet minister Robert Jenrick on Sky News

Tory cabinet minister Robert Jenrick on Sky News - Credit: Sky News, Twitter

Robert Jenrick has been accused of having "double standards" after his criticisms of opposition MPs breaking Covid regulations was not extended to the prime minister's top adviser, Dominic Cummings.

SNP MP Margaret Ferrier broke self-isolation guidelines when she travelled from her Glaswegian seat of Rutherglen and Hamilton West to Westminster while waiting for the results of a coronavirus test.

Upon discovering she had tested positive for the virus, the Scottish politician rushed back to Glasgow by train.

Appearing on Sky News' Breakfast programme with Kay Burley, Jenrick said Ferrier had made the right decision to come out about her rule-breaking trip.

When asked what the difference was between Ferrier's flouting of the rules compared to Cummings', who travelled from London to Durham while ill with Covid-19 back in April, Jenrick said he did not want to discuss "individual cases".

"Dominic Cummings made a statement after the events he was involved in and he denies he broke the rules and as you know the prime minister accepted his answers," the housing and communities minister replied.

"But I'm not here to discuss individual cases or to defend the way particular individuals have behaved.

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"The most important thing is that people familiarise themselves with the rules. Nationally, the basic rules are very simple and clear today."

The cabinet minister also refused to then say whether former Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn had broken the rules when he attended a dinner with more than six people earlier this week.

A frustrated Burley chimed in: "The point I'm trying to make is that everyone at home is screaming at the telly saying it's one rule for us and it's one rule for them and you're falling into that trap, collectively."

Jenrick hit back saying he was sympathetic with the public but said it was up to law enforcement to decide which actions warranted a fine.

He added that no politician was above the law and that they needed to "respect the law whether it's to do with Covid-19 or something else."

Ian Cruise tweeted: "He didn’t react like that when Cummings went to Durham did he!"

@LenoriDude said: "It’s a long time since a class system was OK. Every politician caught out must be fined in accordance with the law. There is no other way. It’s 2020."

"Of course Jenrick equivocates. In any normal democracy he'd have been sacked in May and his actions investigated," added University of Manchester academic Dr Martin Coward.

"I guess MPs, former MPs, advisors to PM and relatives of PM don’t have that good old British common sense that @BorisJohnson keeps banging on about?" wrote Mark Gerard Cox.

One user said: "It's strange on how all the conservative MPs are up in arms over 1 SNP politician , however when Mr Cummings went walkabout there was a deathly silence."

"He can’t condemn it too vociferously, because the hypocrisy with the Dominic Cummings’ case would be all too obvious. Although Margaret Ferrier will have to eventually go, already her contrition is in marked contrast with Barney Castle Lad himself Cummings," added another.

Jenrick's comments come less than a day after the prime minister refused to say whether his father, Stanley Johnson, who was spotted shopping without a mask on Tuesday, and the former Labour leader, should be fined for breaching the coronavirus restrictions.

Boris Johnson's official spokesperson said on Thursday: "The PM is clear the rules apply to everyone and everybody should follow them.

"I think it’s for police to determine what action to take in relation to individuals. That applies to our justice system in general."

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