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Fri, 3 July 2020

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Scottish Tory leader Jackson Carlaw urges Dominic Cummings to ‘consider his position’ amid lockdown row

Scottish Tory leader Jackson Carlaw urges Dominic Cummings to ‘consider his position’ amid lockdown row

Jackson Carlaw is the leader of the Scottish Conservatives (PA)

3 min read

The leader of the Scottish Conservatives has become the most senior Tory to urge Dominic Cummings to “consider his position”.

Jackson Carlaw said the “furore” over the senior Number 10 aide’s trip from London to Durham during lockdown had become a distraction from the Government’s efforts to tackle the coronavirus.

His comments come just hours after Scotland Office minister Douglas Ross resigned, saying he could not tell voters they “were all wrong and one senior adviser to the Government was right”.

The MP for Moray, who became a minister in the Scotland Office in the wake of Boris Johnson’s election victory last year, said “events over the last few days mean I can no longer serve as a member of this government”.

And speaking to STV, Mr Carlaw, who took over from Ruth Davidson as Scottish Tory leader last year said: "Given the furore, given the distraction this is, given the distraction of the Prime Minister on this issue, if I were Mr Cummings I would be considering my position."

He added: "We got a version of events from him, some people will have found that understandable.

"But I think the reality is this is now consuming the entire debate, distracting away from the principle message and the fight against the virus, and if I were in his position, if it were me I would be considering my position."

Mr Carlaw said: “There clearly is a concern that irrespective of whether he acted legally or otherwise, people have to know that everybody is acting without fear or favour in respect of obeying the rules.

"I think the continuing debate about that is what is creating the distraction, I think we need to turn our attention now to fighting the virus and I think the way forward therefore, is to do what I would do if I were in his position, I would now be considering my position."

The dramatic intervention came as a further batch of Tory MPs broke cover to call on Mr Cummings - who has so far received the full backing of Boris Johnson - to quit.

The senior Number 10 aide has said he believes he acted “legally and reasonably” when he and his wife travelled more than 250 miles from London to Durham during the coronavirus lockdown, amid fears they could be left without childcare for their four-year old son.

He has argued that the Government’s stay-at-home guidelines showed that considering the “risks to the health of a small child were an exceptional situation” and said he had “minimised risk to others” when he made the journey. 

But former ministers Stephen Hammond and Mark Harper are among those who on Tuesday urged Mr Cummings to quit.

Mr Harper, a former chief whip, said: “Mr Cummings should have offered to resign and the Prime Minister should have accepted his resignation.“ 

In his own statement, Mr Hammond said: "I share much of the confusion and anger that so many constituents have expressed. I would have not made the decisions that he did."

'UNDERMINED'

Six of Parliament’s opposition parties, excluding Labour, have meanwhile penned an open letter to the Prime Minister calling on him to sack his most senior aide.

After a cross-party meeting on Tuesday, the Westminster leaders of the SNP, Lib Dems, Plaid Cymru, SDLP, Green Party and Alliance Party warned that public trust in the Government’s Covid-19 messaging had been “severely undermined" by Mr Cummings.

They argued: “It is now a matter of record that Mr Dominic Cummings broke multiple lockdown rules. He is yet to express any apology or contrition for these actions. 

“There cannot be one rule for those involved in formulating public health advice and another for the rest of us.”

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