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Guildford’s MP Backs Cummings Despite Accusations of Repeated Lockdown Breaches

Published on: 24 May, 2020
Updated on: 26 May, 2020

Zoe Franklin and Angela Richardson MP

by Martin Giles

Guildford’s Conservative MP should “reconsider her support for Dominic Cummings and join the growing chorus of voices calling for him to go”, said Zoe Franklin, the Lib Dem Parliamentary spokesperson for Guildford.

But Angela Richardson MP responded: “It is disappointing to see that the Guildford Liberal Democrats are still quoting from factually inaccurate news reports.”

On Friday (May 22), the media revealed that Cummings, the Prime Minister’s chief adviser, allegedly broke the lockdown rules by driving 260 miles to County Durham with his wife, sick with coronavirus, to his elderly parents for help with childcare, provoking calls for his resignation.

Claims of further lockdown breaches by Mr Cummings are in today’s newspapers (May 24).

Ms Franklin said: “Understandably, this has angered and upset so many families and individuals who have diligently remained at home throughout the coronavirus outbreak to keep them and their families safe, and prevent the spread of the coronavirus.

“It is an illness which has resulted in thousands of people dying alone, families being unable to be with loved ones as they have died, or meant people have been unable to be there to look after seriously ill relatives.

“The lockdown rules about avoiding unnecessary travel and self-isolating were clear and designed to save lives, yet Dominic Cummings appears to have believed they didn’t apply to him. To my mind, it is clear that he should resign from his adviser position or be removed, as has happened for others in similar roles who ignored the rules.

“I was therefore surprised and disgusted to see Guildford’s MP Angela Richardson tweeting in support of him. 

”I find it inexcusable that, as far as our MP is concerned, there seems to be one rule for Dominic Cummings and another for the rest of us.

“Ms Richardson’s support is also surprising, given that in previous tweets she has made clear, repeatedly, that people should avoid unnecessary travel and stay home in order to save lives. Yet over the course of several tweets she is now attempting to justify behaviour which has potentially put lives at risk and has violated the clear lockdown rules which she herself had previously, and rightly, enthusiastically endorsed.

“Ms Richardson’s constituents deserve an explanation. Does she also think it’s acceptable for the rest of us to leave self-isolation and travel the length of the country to visit relatives if we’re infected with Covid-19? Or does she think the rules don’t apply to the Prime Minister’s chief adviser?

“I sincerely hope that, in addition to offering an explanation, Ms Richardson will reconsider her support for Dominic Cummings and join the growing chorus of voices calling for him to go.

Ms Richardson responded: “It is disappointing to see that the Guildford Liberal Democrats are still quoting from factually inaccurate news reports.

“Number 10, through the statement released yesterday and the press conference last night (Saturday), addressed questions from the media about the actions of Dominic Cummings.

“I endorse the comments of Dr Jenny Harries, the deputy chief medical officer, that safeguarding of both children and those who are in the vulnerable shielding categories has always been a consideration in the guidance issued by the government.

“The care and wellbeing of young children is always of fundamental importance. There is great risk in making assumptions about an individual’s circumstances and access to support.

“My tweet speaks of my own personal family circumstances of illness with SARS in 2003 and therefore my perspective and understanding of the difficult decisions parents of young children face in trying to get the best support.

“That the spokesperson for the Guildford Liberal Democrats should use the word disgust in relation to my personal experience as a parent of a very ill baby, while very ill myself is unfortunate.

Tom Newton Dunn is the Political Editor of The Sun, soon to be presenter and chief political commentator at @TimesRadio

“As we continue to go through this difficult time as a community, I will work constructively with all parties to get the best for Guildford.”

Twitter reports show the Conservative whips’ office has asked Tory MPs to support the prime minister’s position on the Cummings story.

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Responses to Guildford’s MP Backs Cummings Despite Accusations of Repeated Lockdown Breaches

  1. Lisa Wright Reply

    May 24, 2020 at 3:24 pm

    Why is anyone surprised? We’ve all a great deal of experience of MPs, county and borough Conservative councillors always seeming to vote en bloc, as per instructions, from “the boss”, regardless of common sense.

    • John Slater Reply

      May 24, 2020 at 6:27 pm

      We also have a great deal of experience of Lib Dems voting en bloc to suppress a democratically endorsed piece of legislation.

      If you transported all of the Lib Dem party, it’s supporters and their friends, the taxi would still be half full. “En bloc” is the wrong term to use in this case.

      I should have typed, “Lib Dems trying to usurp democracy based on their willingness to sell out the will of the people for a sniff of power”.

      They lost credibility with Clegg, they lost any semblance of respect with Swinson.

  2. Brian Holt Reply

    May 24, 2020 at 5:17 pm

    Everyone was told to stay at home except for shopping, collecting medication, and exercise once a day. Why does Dominic Cummings and some MPs think “everyone” does not include them?

    I am disappointed that our MP finds it alright for a person to drive over 240 miles to Durham, when at the same time everyone has to stay indoors at home. Even the police in Durham said it was wrong; they should have issued a fine.

    This is now going to encourage the public going out and stop listening to any more advice given by the Prime Minister. Did Angela Richardson, our MP, only say it was alright to stay in the Prime Minister’s good books?

  3. Brian Creese Reply

    May 24, 2020 at 7:11 pm

    This story is about Prime Minister Johnson’s leadership and judgement, rather than Angela Richardson’s toe-curling and entirely misplaced support.

    I accept that Cummings was in a difficult position, so were thousands of others, but they obeyed the rules and followed government guidelines, often at the cost of great hardship and unhappiness. Throughout the crisis, some of the elite have felt that they were above these guidelines, and so far they have all been forced to resign.

    Cummings should go. He knows it, Johnson knows it, we all know it.

    If he stays I suspect this will spell the end of lockdown; why on earth is anyone going to take any notice of government guidelines when the chief advisers don’t? By his failure to act, Johnson is putting the entire Covid prevention programme of the past two months in jeopardy. His ineptitude is breathtaking. He has signally failed this significant test of leadership.

    Brian Creese is the Chairman of the Guildford Labour Party

  4. Stuart Thompson Reply

    May 24, 2020 at 8:26 pm

    As a life long opponent of the Tory party, I hope that our MP will continue with her support for Mr Cummings and Mr Johnson. As Napoleon is supposed to have said: “Never interfere with an enemy while he is in the process of destroying himself.”

    • John Schluter Reply

      May 24, 2020 at 10:42 pm

      I’m not sure talk of “an enemy” is particularly helpful in these times. This is not about ‘us’ and ‘them’. We were all told that the indiscriminate nature of the virus presented a threat to us all and all parties agreed that the lockdown message was the right approach. Stay Home, Protect the NHS, Save Lives.

      Unfortunately, some regarded the message as optional and chose to follow their own route. Probably the A1.

  5. Wayne Smith Reply

    May 24, 2020 at 10:12 pm

    Regardless of the rights or wrongs of Dominic Cummings behaviour in this particular instance, what I find peculiar are the several recent letters from Zoe Franklin to The Guildford Dragon which have resulted in ‘pile ons’ against Angela Richardson? We seldom hear from Ms Franklin between elections, so what’s going on? I believe the next General Election is scheduled for 2024!

  6. Mike Evans Reply

    May 25, 2020 at 8:11 am

    I find myself unable to either support or condem the actions of Dominic Cummings as I’m not in possession of the full facts.

    The Prime Minister, in his briefing to the nation last night, chose not to present the facts and in the train crash of questions from the media he avoided every single chance to answer questions and present facts rather than waffle and evasion. The very fact that waffle and evasion were needed leads one to suspect that what was done was wrong. The Prime Minister lost the case and the message to the country at this time is now less than clear.

    So quite how our MP can support either the Prime Minister or Boris Cummings without a full disclosure of facts is beyond me.

  7. Stuart Barnes Reply

    May 25, 2020 at 8:33 am

    Well done Angela Richardson for refusing to join the left-wing witch hunt.

    The usual suspects (BBC, Guardian, etc) are desperate to find something with which to attack our government.

    They should be ignored to let the grown-ups deal with rather more important matters such as beating the Wuhan virus and at last escaping from the EU.

  8. D Bisdee Reply

    May 25, 2020 at 12:08 pm

    Actually, we do hear frequently from Zoe Franklin in between elections. Maybe Mr Wayne Smith doesn’t keep up with her activities (and he has no obligation to do so) but, to reply to that point, actually, she is very active.

    As for Ms Richardson, what is disappointing is that she, along with many other Tory MPs, has chosen to toe the party line and say (like a parrot) she supports Cummings’ decision to visit his parents, while clearly realising how stupid a decision that was.

    I don’t care if he resigns or not, but I do think he and Johnson should acknowledge that a mistake was made. He could have found some other strategy for getting child care, like saying he couldn’t work while he cared for the child himself, as millions of others are having to do.

  9. Mike Evans Reply

    May 25, 2020 at 12:12 pm

    Stuart Barnes is correct in his final sentence about the need to beat the virus and finish the business of leaving the EU, however, judging by the media reports this morning the rant is not restricted to the left-wing and I’m certainly not of that persuasion.

    In all democracies, there is a need for transparency and straight answers and I’m afraid the Prime Minister failed to strike the right tone yesterday, although he was given every opportunity. Whether it comes from the left or the right, or a neutral corner, I suspect the pressure will build until there is total transparency on all aspects of the Dominic Cummings saga.

    • Stuart Barnes Reply

      May 25, 2020 at 3:49 pm

      Just as a minor correction, I certainly did not mention a “rant”. Is Mike Evans sure that he has read the correct piece?

      Editor’s note: the implication within Mike Evans’ comment that he was quoting Stuart Barnes’ has been removed.

  10. Jo Power Reply

    May 25, 2020 at 12:57 pm

    I’m very surprised our MP can see nothing wrong in a government adviser, who was involved with decisions on lockdown rules, deciding to break those rules when he felt like it. Travelling many miles when he knew he and his wife had virus symptoms was irresponsible, to say the least. Other families worked hard to look after their children whilst in lockdown and when ill, why couldn’t Mr Cummings?

  11. John Perkins Reply

    May 25, 2020 at 1:04 pm

    I don’t wish to take sides in this debate.

    But I will say that, if Cummings’ action leads to the collapse of lockdown, then some good will have come from it.

  12. Sue Hackman Reply

    May 25, 2020 at 2:54 pm

    Dominic Cummings is not living up the standards he has set for the rest of us.

    I haven’t seen my own son, the manager of a large London A&E department, for three months. I haven’t seen my daughter, a police officer in the Violence Suppression Unit with the Met Police, for the same length of time. My family is doing its duty and sticking to the rules.

    The thing about Dominic Cummings is that he shows offhand contempt for the rules he is privileged to make. He declined to attend a Commons Select committee when he was called; he did not observe the lockdown. He was not even elected. We should not tolerate hypocrisy and lack of accountability in high places.

  13. Dave Middleton Reply

    May 25, 2020 at 3:17 pm

    Once again, we have this grandiose, quasi-official and frankly, nonsensical title used to describe Ms Franklin, “Zoe Franklin, the Lib Dem Parliamentary spokesperson for Guildford”.

    Ms Franklin may well be the spokesperson for Liberal Democrats in Guildford. However, she is not a “spokesperson for Guildford”. She may well have close contact with Lib Dem MPs at Westminster, but she is not an MP, does not speak in the House of Commons and has no official Parliamentary role that I am aware of.

    She is a private citizen, chosen by a small group of people in Guildford, with a particular political affiliation, to act as their candidate in general elections and to speak on that group’s behalf. She was not elected as an MP and does not speak for the people of Guildford in general. She is no more a “Parliamentary spokesperson” than I am.

    Surely a better and more accurate title might perhaps be, “Zoe Franklin, spokesperson for the Guildford Branch of the Liberal Democrat Party”.

    Editors’s note: the full description in the press release was “Liberal Democrat Parliamentary Spokesperson for Guildford, Cranleigh & our Villages”.

    • George Potter Reply

      May 25, 2020 at 6:46 pm

      Barely six months ago 22,980 local people voted for Zöe Franklin. Presumably they were just as happy for her to speak for them and to represent their views as the people who voted for Angela Richardson are for her to speak for them.

  14. Sue Fox Reply

    May 25, 2020 at 3:18 pm

    I am not surprised that our current MP took the action she did, I would contrast this with her predecessor with whom I seldom agreed but who stood up for her constituents and her beliefs and was punished by the two men who are now backing each other.

    “Do as I say but don’t do as I do” the vast majority of the country has done the right thing not suited themselves. We complied for the common good whatever our politics and have found compassion from others to be a wonderful thing to be treasured amidst the heartache of loss.

  15. David Wragg Reply

    May 25, 2020 at 7:26 pm

    Zoe Franklin did not win the general election in Guildford and has no remit to be a spokesperson for Guildford.

  16. John Schluter Reply

    May 25, 2020 at 8:25 pm

    I’d love to hear John Perkins’ plans following his hoped for ‘collapse of lockdown’. The ‘good’ he talks about will be especially interesting. I must warn him, I am a stickler for details and wish to see unequivocally proven scientific facts.

    • John Perkins Reply

      May 25, 2020 at 11:59 pm

      I ask John Schluter to first give me some “unequivocally proven scientific facts” that lockdown has been beneficial and is still beneficial. Details, please.

      • John Schluter Reply

        May 26, 2020 at 4:55 pm

        I would suggest Mr Perkins tries this for starters:

        The WHO website also mentions Covid-19 here and there. I prefer to take my medical advice from medical experts.

        • John Perkins Reply

          May 26, 2020 at 11:58 pm

          I asked for facts about the efficacy of lockdown.

          General opinion about the disease, however good the source, is not an answer.

  17. Steven Lee Reply

    May 26, 2020 at 1:07 am

    Things Dominic admits he did:

    Went home to someone with suspected Coronavirus and then went back to work – against guidance.

    Drove someone with suspected Coronavirus 260 miles and, notably, from an area of high infection (London) to an area of what was then low infection (the North East) – against guidance and, one would think, against common sense.

    Checked eyesight that he suspected was substandard by getting in a vehicle and driving 30 miles – against the law and against all common sense.

  18. Jules Cranwell Reply

    May 26, 2020 at 6:47 am

    Personally, I was more disgusted with the behaviour of the press than Cummings’ actions. They swarmed around him like a pack of attack dogs, within a foot of him and each other. None were wearing mask and they completely ignored the two-metre rule. They did much more to cause more cases of Covid-19 than Cummings.

  19. Alan Davies Reply

    May 26, 2020 at 10:18 am

    This saga reminds me of the Elton John’s classic

    “It’s sad, so sad (so sad)
    It’s a sad, sad situation
    And it’s getting more and more absurd
    It’s sad, so sad (so sad)
    Why can’t we talk it over?
    Oh it seems to me
    That sorry seems to be the hardest word”

    Clearly, “sorry” is not in Dominic Cummings’ vocabulary and what is more “absurd” than driving 30 miles to test your eyesight? Presumably, Mrs Cummings can drive?

  20. David Barrett Reply

    May 26, 2020 at 11:42 am

    I am disgusted and appalled at the tweet that our MP Angela Richardson posted last night. [“Dominic Cummings has given a full, frank and fair explanation as to his movements and thought processes. It is time to move forward.”] Firstly, it was a copy and paste and contained no thoughts or words of her own. I expect more from my MP.

    Secondly to support what happened and the accounts that have been given, which have changed daily and are not consistent, is shocking.

    I followed the government’s guidelines. My father passed away a couple of weeks ago and I was unable to attend his funeral as my wife tested positive for Covid-19 a couple of days before.

    To listen and read the words that have been put out by the government and their MPs makes me sick to the pit of my stomach.

    One rule for the elite and another rule for the rest.

  21. Roy Carter Reply

    May 27, 2020 at 7:21 pm

    I do not support the Conservative party but I did appreciate that the previous Tory MP, Ann Milton, put the views of her constituents before the hypocritical views of the PM and his henchman. I am sure she would have had a very different reaction to the current absurd situation constructed by Boris and his henchman.

    The current Guildford MP is going to make it very easy to vote for anyone but her next time around.

  22. Steve Pownall Reply

    May 28, 2020 at 4:19 pm

    I keep hearing about Dominic Cummings that news reports have been “factually inaccurate”, as above, quoting our MP. But has anyone gone on record to say what has been inaccurate? For instance, Durham police were widely seen as retracting their first comments but, in fact, their second statement seems to have carefully not retracted anything.

  23. Christian Holliday Reply

    May 28, 2020 at 6:14 pm

    Durham Police drew a line under the matter today. No action will be taken. Most notably the police had no issue with the central matter of Mr Cumming’s drive from London to Durham. It’s time the media world moved on from this overtly political witch-hunt.

    Christian Holliday is a former Conservative borough councillor for Burpham.

    • Steve Pownall Reply

      May 29, 2020 at 12:24 pm

      It certainly is time some people moved on. Christian Holliday has commented on what I wrote as if in answer. But ha has added to the non-answers.

      I hear no clamour for the police to prosecute Cummings so the police response is fine by me. But there is a clamour for honesty from the party of government because there has to be trust in their governance to be effective and life-saving.

      A great deal of Conservative-led politicking has been poured into what seems to be a distracting cover-up. Perhaps, with his contacts in the Conservative Party, Mr Holliday can tell us – what were the “false allegations”?

  24. Brian Creese Reply

    May 29, 2020 at 9:06 am

    Loyal Tories ask us all to ‘move on’ because it is clear that Cummings is not going to… move on. This has been a dreadful error of judgement by the prime minister.

    Brian Creese, is the chairman of the Guildford Labour Party

    • S Callanan Reply

      May 29, 2020 at 11:42 am

      What about Stephen Kinnoock’s 300 mile round trip to celebrate his dad’s birthday, defended by the MP on the grounds that he had to “deliver some necessary supplies to my parents”.

      Doesn’t that sound a bit like an error of judgement on someone’s part?

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