Tory Minister Douglas Ross Quits Over Dominic Cummings Allegations

Ned Simons
Tory Minister Douglas Ross Quits Over Dominic Cummings Allegations

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Douglas Ross, a junior minister in the Scotland Office, has resigned from the government over Dominic Cummings’ alleged breach of lockdown rules.

The MP for Moray said on Tuesday that he was quitting after hearing Cummings’ efforts to defend his trip from London to Durham in March.

Ross said he could not “in good faith” tell his constituents who could not care for sick relatives or say goodbye to dying ones while obeying lockdown rules that Cummings acted appropriately.

Several other Tory MPs have also gone public with demands that Boris Johnson’s senior aide resign.

Ross said that “while the intentions may have been well-meaning”, Cummings’ interpretation of the rules was “not shared by the vast majority of people”.

“I have constituents who didn’t get to say goodbye to loved ones; families who could not mourn together; people who didn’t visit sick relatives because they followed the guidance of the government,” he said.

“I cannot in good faith tell them they were all wrong and one senior adviser to the government was right.”

The resignation came amid continued concerns over how Johnson’s defence of Cummings will affect the public, police and health workers during the pandemic.

In an extraordinary press conference for an adviser, Cummings argued that his journey to Durham in March was justified as he sought to protect his family’s health.

But many questions remained unanswered, including over his subsequent drive to Barnard Castle which he said was to test his eyesight after it was affected by Covid-19.

Michael Gove, an ally of Cummings, said the journey, some 25 miles from where the aide was isolating, was “completely appropriate” because he was “preparing to return to work” by checking he was safe to drive the long trip back to London.

Told that the reason “preparing to return to work” did not appear under the regulations, Gove replied: “No, but the key thing is Dominic is a key worker and being in a position to return to work is a sensible thing.”

“It’d have been entirely within his right to return to work that day on the basis of the advice he had been given, that’s my understanding, so that drive was completely appropriate,” he added, to BBC Radio 4’s Today programme.

Johnson’s spokesperson said this morning: “The prime minister would like to thank Douglas Ross for his service to government and regrets his decision to stand down as parliamentary under secretary of state for Scotland.”

At least 15 Conservative MPs have said Cummings should go, while several others have spoken out against his actions.

Simon Jupp, the MP for East Devon, this morning said he would have considered resigning had he taken the same actions as Cummings.

“We are all making significant sacrifices and coping with situations we couldn’t imagine just a few months ago,” he said.

“Many of us, including myself, have lost people in our lives and haven’t been able to see family and friends. It’s been incredibly tough for everyone.”

William Wragg, the MP for Hazel Grove, said it had been “humiliating” and “degrading” to see ministers defend Cummings. “This is a time of national emergency and our focus must be unrelenting. We owe it to the nation,” he tweeted.

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This article originally appeared on HuffPost.