UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson and his special advisor Dominic Cummings, 10 Downing Street, London, September 3, 2019 (Daniel Leal-Olivas/AFP/Getty)
I was asked by James Brownsell of Al Jazeera English to evaluate the defiance by UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson and his chief strategist Dominic Cummings over Cummings’ breaking of the Government’s measures to contain Coronavirus.
Brownsell’s excellent review of the situation includes part of the comment as well as analysis from Professor Linda Bauld, chair of public health at the University of Edinburgh, and Mark Shanahan, head of politics at the University of Reading.
My remarks in full:
This is an enigma wrapped in a farce, grasped in two fingers stuck up to the British public.
I can understand why Johnson might insist on hanging onto Cummings: an ongoing bromance founded on political scheming, debts owed to Vote Leave from 2016, even Cummings’ hold on information that could damage the Prime Minister.
What I can’t understand is the brazen, dismissive manner in Johnson and Cummings’ statements.
Johnson’s “legally, responsibly, and with integrity” said to every person in the UK: “I don’t care if Dominic acted illegally, irresponsibility, and with no integrity. I don’t care about your particular situation or sacrifice in this pandemic.”
Cummings did not even maintain the pretense of “legal” and added clumsy deceptions to explain a 260-mile panic run to Durham and a 60-mile holiday trip, on his wife’s birthday, to “test his eyesight”.
Johnson and Cummings could gamble, and win, on Brexit as “Us v. Them”. But there’s no “Us v. Them” with Coronavirus: many in their base of voters, constituents, and even Conservative MPs have paid a personal price in this crisis.
With his shady manipulations over Coronavirus and now his personal defiance of the Government’s campaign, Cummings has morphed from asset to albatross for Johnson.
And after Cummings’ refusal to resign — or even say “Sorry” — I don’t see how Johnson gets the albatross off his neck.