There’s nothing like a major political scandal to deliver TV ratings, and so it proved in the U.K. this bank holiday weekend.
Despite it being the hottest day of the year, a reported 3.7 million viewers tuned into BBC One on Monday afternoon to hear Dominic Cummings, Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s chief advisor, defend his decision to make a 260-mile trip while the country was in lockdown. Cummings was recently portrayed by Benedict Cumberbatch in the Channel 4/HBO drama “Brexit: The Uncivil War.”
Cummings explained yesterday that he had not told Boris Johnson when he decided to take his family from London to County Durham, in the North of England, on March 27 after his wife developed COVID-19 symptoms.
Cummings — who masterminded the successful Brexit campaign ahead of the U.K.’s referendum on E.U. membership — said he believed he had acted “reasonably” and within the law.
Cummings has faced several days of attacks in the media, with many people, including some Conservative MPs, calling for him to resign. However, he has retained Johnson’s backing despite critics arguing that the Prime Minister’s defense of Cummings risked undermining public support for the U.K.’s lockdown.
Cummings said he and his family stayed at a cottage on his parents’ farm in County Durham, where he then developed COVID-19 symptoms on 28 March.
He also drove around 30 minutes from his family farm to the town of Barnard Castle on April 12 — 15 days after he had displayed symptoms — in an effort, he said, to test his eyesight and readiness to drive back to London.
A junior government minister, Douglas Ross, today resigned after Dominic Cummings’ defence of his trip to County Durham during the coronavirus lockdown.
The Scotland Office minister said Cummings’ view of the government lockdown guidance was “not shared by the vast majority of people.”
36,914 people have died of coronavirus in the U.K., according to official figures.