10th Jul, 2020

Walker accepts Cummings explanation for lockdown actions

Rob George 28th May, 2020 Updated: 28th May, 2020

UNDER-FIRE Downing Street chief adviser Dominic Cummings gave a ‘reasonable explanation’ for his actions in driving more than 260 miles to his parents home during lockdown, that’s the view of Worcester MP Robin Walker.

The city’s MP said it was ‘right and appropriate’ the Number 10 svengali set out the facts and made a statement and echoed the sentiments of fellow county Tory MPs Nigel Huddleston (Mid Worcestershire) and Rachel Maclean (Redditch) in accepting his version of events.

Malvern’s MP Harriett Baldwin, Bromsgrove MP Sajid Javid and Wyre Forest MP Mark Garnier have all called on Mr Cummings to go following nearly a week of headlines but Mr Walker, who serves as a Northern Ireland Minister in Boris Johnson’s Government, refused to join their calls.

“It’s a very extraordinary set of affairs he was in where both he and his wife were concerned about having the virus. Clearly if he had been able to have childcare closer to him that would have been much better,” he said.

“It was unfortunate the story about Mr Cummings had run so long before he was able to set out the facts and I’m conscious that a lot of false information has been put out in the media and through social media channels.

“I want to reiterate however the law and the rules apply to everyone equally and Mr Cummings does not have a particular exemption. Neither Mr Cummings nor anyone else working in Government has a particular exemption for that matter.

“I appreciate millions of people have been faced with the pressure and difficulties of living under lockdown. My team and I have been in the same situation and we are all conscious of the huge stress and concern this period has evoked

“I have ensured the strength of feeling relayed to me regarding the Mr Cummings situation has been passed on to the appropriate colleagues.

“If the police had concluded Mr Cummings had acted against the law, I would be clear he would have to resign. It is unfortunate this story has distracted attention away from the huge national effort in defeating the virus and I want to assure you that I will continue to focus on how we can keep making positive steps to tackle it,” Mr Walker added.

Meanwhile, the Bishop of Worcester has defended his decision to speak out against the Prime Minister for his handling of the Dominic Cummings furore despite receiving a death threat for his views.

Rt Rev Dr John Inge was among more than dozen Church of England bishops who launched fierce broadsides at Boris Johnson for coming to the aid of under-fire chief of staff Dominic Cummings and accused the Prime Minister of offering a ‘risible’ defence.

After his views were published in a number of national newspapers, Bishop John revealed the threat made to his life.

“Received a delightful e-mail earlier: ‘Stay out of politics or we’ll kill you.’ For me the whole Cummings drama is not about politics but life and death. If trust in Government guidance is eroded we’ll have a second spike and thousands of lives will be lost,” he said.

The role of the church in political affairs has been a source of debate for centuries but Bishop John defended his choice to speak out.

“One of my favourite Archbishop Desmond Tutu quotes is: ‘When people say that religion and politics don’t mix, I wonder which Bible it is they are reading.’ He, of course, received much venom for speaking truth to power,” Bishop John added.

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