First press briefing after Dominic Cummings scandal branded a ‘humiliating fiasco’ and ‘utter chaos’

Louis Staples
Saturday 23 May 2020 16:30
news

It’s been a fairly eventful day in British politics.

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, there’s been a huge scandal regarding Dominic Cummings being accused of breaking lockdown by travelling from London to Durham.

Cummings has denied he’s done anything unlawful or irresponsible, and senior Tories are backing him (for now).

But this hasn’t stopped people from calling for his resignation and, understandably, feeling like it’s one rule for people like Cummings and another for the rest of us. It’s all getting very, very messy.

Did Boris Johnson know? And who else knew? Should Cummings step down?

These are questions many of us have been asking over the last day.

So the anticipation for the government’s daily press briefing was extremely high.

Unfortunately, Boris Johnson – the man everyone wants to hear from – appeared to be hidden away somewhere. So transport minister Grant Shapps was served up as the sacrificial lamb to answer question after question about the ins and outs of the Cummings scandal.

It was, by virtually all assessments, completely excruciating.

All questions at the briefing focused on the Cummings scandal, and not many of those questions were answered.

Dr Jenny Harries, the deputy chief medical officer for England, said that people who have symptoms of Covid-19 should “take themselves out of society”, which doesn't seem to have happened. She did say these rules can possibly be altered for “safeguarding” if there’s extreme risk to life for a child or adult. But this doesn’t seem like it's case here either, although there's a debate around that because Cummings has cited childcare concerns as the primary reason for his 265-mile trip.

Shapps seemed completely unprepared to answer basic questions, such as what Boris Johnson knew and when.

At points it was turbulent and almost always it was deeply uncomfortable to watch.

Here's some reflections...

If one thing's for sure, it's that this scandal isn't dying down any time soon.

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