There has been only one thing more shocking than Dominic Cumming’s shameful flout of lockdown rules; and that is the government’s reaction to it.
In a week when 13 year-old Ismail Mohamed Abdulwahab was buried without any of his immediate family in attendance and thousands of families across the country felt the strain owing to Covid-19 restrictions, the Prime Minister’s aide drove to the other side of the country while displaying symptoms.
It would have gone down as one of the great political scandals of our time, had it not been for the government reaction that followed it.
Transport Secretary Grant Shapps, sent out like a lamb to the slaughter yesterday after Boris Johnson missed his umpteenth press briefing, confirmed our worst fears about how deeply embedded Cumming’s is within the Tory administration.
“I can tell you the PM provides Mr Cummings with his full support,” he said, saying the aide had acted “reasonably and legally”.
Reports had surfaced that afternoon indicating that Number 10 had known about the flout all along, which would stand to reason given what we know of their cushy relationship.
SNP’s Westminster leader, Ian Blackford, said there are serious questions to be answered over what now appears to be a cover-up.
“The Prime Minister must explain exactly when he knew about the breaking of the rules, whether he sanctioned it, why Cummings wasn’t sacked immediately and why it appears that he tried to cover it up, not telling the public until the newspaper(s) broke the story, eight weeks later, last night,” he said.
However, the response from senior Tory politicians suggests that no such action will be forthcoming.
Michael Gove, Dominic Raab and Matt Hancock joined a flood of senior MPs who jumped to support Cummings in a utterly shameless way.
Forgetting the toil most Brits were forced to deal with, they said things such as:
“Caring for your wife and child is not a crime”, “it is entirely right” and that “those seeking to politicise it should take a long hard look in the mirror”.
A quite remarkable response considering.
Should we be surprised?
Yet given all we know about the Brexit campaign, the Tory election victory in December and many subsequent moves to manage scrutiny from the press, should we be surprised at the government’s response to this national scandal?
In any other country Cummings would have been given his marching orders long ago.
But as we are coming to realise; we are not just ‘any other county’ any more.