Keir Starmer: I would have sacked Dominic Cummings if I were prime minister
Keir Starmer has said he would have sacked Dominic Cummings as a senior Number 10 aide if he had been Prime Minister.
Labour has so far stopped short of calling for Mr Cummings, who is at the centre of a major row after it was revealed he travelled from London to his family home in Durham during lockdown, to resign or be sacked.
But in a significant ramping up of the opposition party’s position on Sunday night, the Labour leader said: “If I were Prime Minister I’d have sacked Cummings.
“And there must now be an investigation into what has happened. But that’s what I’d have done.”
The comments from the Labour leader come after Boris Johnson offered his unequivocal support to the embattled aide, telling the nation he had “acted legally, responsibly and with integrity”.
Speaking at the Downing Street press briefing, Mr Johnson said that “in travelling to find the right type of childcare”, his chief aide “followed the instinct of every father and every parent”.
He added: “And I do not mark him down for that.”
The defence of Mr Cummings comes in spite of growing pressure from Conservative MPs to sack the adviser after it emerged he travelled more than 260 miles from his home in London to his family’s residence in Durham in the middle of the coronavirus lockdown.
Reacting to the Prime Minister’s statement on Sunday night, Sir Keir said: “He hasn’t sacked Dominic Cummings, he hasn’t called for an investigation, and he’s treating the British public with contempt.
“Millions of people across the country have made the most agonising choices.
“Not to visit relatives, some of whom were ill, dying. Not to go to funerals.
“They deserved better answers than they got from the Government today.”
The Labour leader meanwhile dismissed Mr Johnson’s defence of Mr Cummings, which the Prime Minister said had come after “extensive face-to-face” talks with the top aide.
Mr Johnson told the press conference: “I concluded that in travelling to find the right kind of childcare at the moment when both he and his wife were about to be incapacitated by coronavirus and when he had no alternative, I think he followed the instincts of every father and every parent, and I do not mark him down for that.”
But Sir Keir hit back: “That’s not a reasonable interpretation of the rules and the Prime Minister knows it.
“And millions of people have not done the same. That’s why this is such an important issue. Millions haven’t done than and he has done it.
“One rule for the Prime Minister’s advisers, another rule for everybody else.”
Labour has already called on Cabinet Secretary Sir Mark Sedwill to launch an investigation into Mr Cummings’ conduct, a demand shared by the Liberal Democrats.
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