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Aylesbury MP: Dominic Cummings' Barnard Castle trip 'difficult to justify'

Rob Butler has given his take on the situation which has dominated national news for the past few days.

Published by Dan Gooding at 12:51pm 27th May 2020. 4-minute read.

Aylesbury MP: Dominic Cummings' Barnard Castle trip 'difficult to justify'

After a number of angry emails from constituents, Aylesbury's MP has given his views on the Dominic Cummings situation.

In a statement today, Rob Butler says he understands the news over the past few days will have made things more painful for some.

The senior adviser  made three trips during the lockdown, which the adviser says were to seek childcare help from his family in Durham.

Aylesbury's MP added that it was 'difficult to justify' the trip Mr. Cummings made to Barnard Castle, a trip the PM's adviser says was to test his eyesight.

Mr. Butler said:

"Throughout the coronavirus crisis, I have been clear that we should all comply with the government guidance.

"That means everyone equally, including all advisors to the government. I therefore completely understand the anger and frustration at what was reported about Mr Cummings."

He said he believes in listening to both sides of the argument, and was therefore glad to have heard Mr Cummings’ full account of the actions he took, and his reasons for them.

Mr. Cummings stated on Monday that the aspect of the guidance referring to the particular circumstances for the care of a young child applied in his case.

Rob Butler

This, Aylesburty's MP says, corresponds with the statement made by the Deputy Chief Medical Officer on 24 March, when she said:

“Clearly if you have adults who are unable to look after a small child, that is an exceptional circumstance.”

Rob continued:

"I therefore acknowledge that the guidance can be interpreted in the way Mr Cummings has done.

"However, Mr Cummings himself said 'there is room for reasonable disagreement' about whether he should have stayed in London, and I do not criticise anyone who does indeed disagree with him.

"Personally, I find the trip Mr Cummings took to Barnard Castle very difficult to justify and am disappointed that he did not apologise for it.

"Mr Cummings said he should have made his statement earlier, and I firmly agree. I have made this point emphatically to people in the government who are obviously more senior than me.

"I have also stressed the strength of anger in the emails I have received, and explained that I sympathise with many of the points that have been raised."

The MP said he especially feels for the parents who are frustrated that the guidelines have meant they were unable to travel to be nearer grandparents who might have been able to help their children if they had fallen ill, or for grandparents to visit them.

He continued:

"I am in no doubt that many people in my constituency have been through huge difficulties and made incredible sacrifices over the past weeks; some have endured heart-breaking moments when unable to be with loved ones at the most devastating times.

"I absolutely recognise that the events of recent days have made this even more painful."

Throughout the coronavirus crisis, Rob says the top priority for his team and for him personally has been to assist constituents who need help, for example, ensuring the repatriation of local people from abroad; securing financial aid for businesses; linking offers of PPE and staff accommodation to the local NHS; helping local emergency workers secure after-school provision for their children; enabling a local school to access meal vouchers for vulnerable children; assisting unwell constituents to obtain home-testing kits and supporting volunteers with their incredible efforts to help local communities.

He said this remains their focus now and for the weeks ahead and that he will continue to do all he can from his position as a backbench MP to help the people of the Aylesbury constituency 'faced with this appalling pandemic'.

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