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The official Twitter account of the UK Civil Service has branded the government “arrogant and offensive” in a remarkable tweet just moments after the Downing Street daily press briefing.
The message was swiftly deleted but not before it had been retweeted over 30,000 times.
It read: “Arrogant and offensive. Can you imagine having to work with these truth twisters?”
This has just been tweeted from the UK Civil Service account.— Lewis Goodall (@lewis_goodall) May 24, 2020
This is the craziest political weekend for a long time. pic.twitter.com/u4x0i6plHL
The tweet appears to have been sent in reaction to Boris Johnson confirming that Dominic Cummings will keep his job despite claims he twice defied the PM’s Covid-19 “stay at home” restrictions and travelled 260 miles to Durham to self-isolate at his parents’ home in March.
The PM said he had “extensive face to face” discussions with the former Vote Leave boss and that Cummings acted “responsibly, legally and with integrity”.
He added: “I have 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”.
RIP to the bravest civil service intern of them all pic.twitter.com/24CfJ6MQFW— 🙋🏼♀️➡️🏠 k a t i e 👏🧼👍 (@supermathskid) May 24, 2020
Has anyone seen the civil service twitter account log-ins? I put them down by a fruit machine at Thurrock services and haven't seen them since.— Mark ne-Francois-pas MP (@MarkFrancois12) May 24, 2020
yeah that civil service tweet is good, but it’s even better when it’s being read out slowly on BBC News pic.twitter.com/dxiRvN9MJZ— Jon Stone (@joncstone) May 24, 2020
The UK Civil Service is the body of workers that carry out the day-to-day work of the government. They remain in place when governments change and are professionally apolitical.
Later on Sunday evening UK Government spokesman said the tweet was “unauthorised”, adding: “The post has been removed and we are investigating the matter.”
The official Civil Service account was only following its instincts— Michael Deacon (@MichaelPDeacon) May 24, 2020
The PM’s comments sparked an instant backlash on social media from a public confused that everyone but Cummings had interpreted the government’s ‘Stay At Home’ instructions at face value.
Hold up! Johnson let him off? So those parents whose children were DYING could only have one parent at hospital and those children being BURIED couldn’t have family at the funeral, but Cummings could spread Covid/travel “in case” they needed childcare (they didn’t)#sackcummimgs— Scarlet Wilde (@wilde) May 24, 2020
The sentiment was echoed by Labour leader Kier Starmer.
This was a test of the Prime Minister and he has failed it.— Keir Starmer (@Keir_Starmer) May 24, 2020
It is an insult to sacrifices made by the British people that Boris Johnson has chosen to take no action against Dominic Cummings.
Number 10 had initially defended Cummings, saying the trip was justified as he needed help with childcare for his four-year-old son. Cummings later tested positive for Covid-19,
Johnson also sought to defend his adviser, by saying “some” of the allegations about Cummings’ behaviour during self-isolation were “palpably false”.
He said: “Though there have been many other allegations about what happened when he was in self-isolation and thereafter, some of them palpably false, I believe that in every respect he has acted responsibly and legally and with integrity and with the overwhelming aim of stopping the spread of the virus and saving lives.”
This article originally appeared on HuffPost.