Politics

Durham Police probe commentary: The real test of the Cummings saga will be public trust in the ‘People’s Parliament’



The Dominic Cummings believers can rejoice today after a police investigation found he did not break the lockdown rules by travelling 260 miles to Durham.

Annoyingly for Downing Street the police did say he “might” have made a “minor breach” of the regulations by driving to Barnard Castle to test his eyes.

But that will likely prove a small niggle in what has been a huge headache for Boris Johnson since the story broke last Friday.


Arguably Durham Constabulary has given the Prime Minister the help he needed to brush this saga under the carpet and “move on”.

Yes, of course, ministers will continue to face further interrogations over the Cummings scandal that has rippled far beyond Westminster.

But, when journalists have grown exasperated with the Government’s responses to the Durham police statement, what then?

Mr Johnson has already dismissed calls for an inquiry, implying it would not be a good use of official time.

(PA)

Downing Street is desperate for the whole episode to die off and will be glad for some breathing space to push big ticket announcements including the NHS Test and Trace and measures to ease lockdown.

No, the real test of this episode will be the public’s trust in the “People’s Parliament” going forward.

In his first speech as Prime Minister last summer Mr Johnson warned politicians to remember that “the people are our bosses”.

But his own Conservative Party MPs have reported receiving record numbers of emails about from constituents who are furious with Mr Cummings.

And he has faced a growing revolt with more than 40 Tory MPs calling for Mr Cummings to go.

Meanwhile, people are talking about the senior adviser in supermarkets, in parks and at home with their families.

One person, writing to the Prime Minister’s official Facebook page said: “Well Boris, I lent you my vote, but you have let me down.

“I put my trust in you to do the right thing and instead of putting the lives of your country first, you choose to back your adviser.

“Thank you my trust has gone – you should have done the right thing. I don’t blame Cummings, although he too should have held his hands up and said we got it wrong. I do blame you for your choice.”

So, for some, the damage is already done. The people who lent Mr Johnson their votes in the historic December 2019 election, who helped him win that stonking majority of 80, will not forget this in a hurry.

Others have accused the Government of taking them for fools and even gas lighting them over the lockdown regulations.

A recent data tracker showed Mr Johnson’s popularity had plunged by 20 points in just four days while a YouGov survey found that 59 per cent of people thought Mr Cummings should resign and 71 per cent thought he disregarded government lockdown guidelines.

Number 10 and Mr Cummings may argue he acted “reasonably” but many members of the public have already made their minds up.



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