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‘Botched PR exercise’: Scottish politicians react to ‘special’ press conference by special adviser Dominic Cummings

Dominic Cummings.
Dominic Cummings.

Scotland’s politicians have had their say in response to the unprecedented press conference conducted by the Prime Minister’s special adviser, Dominic Cummings.

Mr Cummings has been accused of undermining Boris Johnson’s government coronavirus messaging after admitting travelling hundreds of miles during the peak of the UK lockdown.

Mr Cummings refused to apologise for his actions, did not resign and explained he had spoken to Mr Johnson when the pair were in their sick beds weeks ago, but neither could recall the conversation.

Reaction north of the border

Scotland’s politicians have commented on the briefing, which started 30 minutes late.

Scottish Conservative MSPs have been approached for comment.

Scottish Conservative MPs Andrew Bowie and Douglas Ross did not respond to a request for comment.

Scottish Conservative MSPs from the North East and Mid Scotland and Fife parliamentary regions did not respond to a request for comment.

Scottish Conservative MP David Duguid said: “Some people may disagree with the judgements made by Mr Cummings and many will have already made up their minds before hearing the full story.

“However, I think many people will now look at this afresh and consider some of the news coverage in a different light. The Prime Minister has said he satisfied that Mr Cummings acted properly and has made his judgement on the matter.”

SNP Westminster Leader Ian Blackford MP said: “What should have been a resignation statement turned out to be a botched PR exercise that changes nothing. It is now beyond doubt Dominic Cummings broke multiple lockdown rules.

“There was no apology and no contrition from Mr Cummings for his behaviour – and now, following this unrepentant press conference, there are no excuses left for him.

“He has done nothing but double down on the double standards he has displayed and which millions of people across the UK are furious about.

SNP Westminster leader Ian Blackford.

“Let’s be clear, there is nothing about Mr Cummings that is exceptional except his complete inability to realise he broke the rules.

“The Prime Minister has no option but to sack Mr Cummings. His failure to do so so far is a gross failure of leadership.

“Boris Johnson has apparently known about this for weeks, has failed to offer any answers himself and now has no option but to sack Dominic Cummings and answer questions about his own role in the Downing Street cover-up.

“Boris Johnson’s failure to show leadership is damaging the public health message and putting lives at risk, as leading public health experts have warned.

“The longer the Prime Minister allows this farce to continue, the more the Tory government will lose credibility and respect. He must sack Mr Cummings without further delay.”

Scottish Labour leader Richard Leonard called for Cummings to be sacked immediately, while Lib Dem MP Wendy Chamberlain said he had undermined advice designed to save lives.

She said: “Instead of telling us any new information, Cummings’ statement feels contorted and made to fit with the facts already in the public domain.

“The most worrying thing about the Dominic Cummings press conference is that the prime minister heard this version of events yesterday and both accepted and stated it demonstrated responsibility and integrity.

Wendy Chamberlain.

“The only new information that Cummings has provided are admissions of further breaches of the rules. He has undermined the public advice designed to save lives and his position is now beyond untenable.”

Dundee East SNP MSP Shona Robison said: “It’s clear that Dominic Cummings has broken a number of lockdown rules.

“Today we saw no apologies and no regrets. People in Dundee have made huge sacrifices over the past few months to obey the rules, while Boris Johnson’s most senior adviser was breaking them, he should do the decent thing and resign.”

“Should be sacked immediately”

Mr Leonard said: “Dominic Cummings has failed in his attempt to justify his actions.

“What is particularly upsetting for people listening to his statement is that they have followed the lockdown rules while Dominic Cummings did not.

Richard Leonard MSP. </p> <p>

“Some people have missed the chance to spend final moments with a loved one, some have missed their loved ones’ funerals. Some have had no help with childcare, despite illness. Some people’s sacrifices during this time will leave a lasting trauma.

“Dominic Cummings has not apologised for his actions. He stands by his decision to put other people’s lives in danger, showing he believes he is above the rules everyone else is following.

“Boris Johnson’s handling of this situation has been unacceptable. Dominic Cummings should be sacked immediately.”

Dunfermline SNP MP Douglas Chapman said: “He has not resigned, he’s not sorry, he has severely undermined confidence in the UK Government and their ability to govern with our consent.

“In Scotland we have a road map to get out of this health crisis. Let’s focus on support and help for all, instead of the selfishness of one person.”

Brexit secretary Michael Russell MSP said: “Can’t but think that this tears away the curtain to reveal a rather pathetic individual , very far from the master of the universe he has made himself out to be. And that leaves his boss looking immensely diminished too.”