25th May 2020
Dear Mr Mitchell,
The Prime Minister’s support of Mr Cummings
Two and a half weeks ago, my husband received the awful news that his mother only had a very short time left. Against all instinct, taking into account government guidance not to travel and concerned about the possibility of spreading coronavirus, although he had no symptoms, he made the heart-breaking decision not to go to Manchester to be at her side in her last few hours. Next week is her funeral. Some of his brothers are not going to be there as they live too far away to make the journey in a day, are reliant on public transport and have nowhere to stay.
People right across our Royal Town of Sutton Coldfield have similar stories of the incredible sacrifices they have made to stop the coronavirus. No doubt you will have heard from many of them. Our neighbourly support network has been contacted by numerous concerned sons and daughters, living hundreds of miles away, who were anxious about elderly parents in Sutton and were asking for help in getting food and medicines to them. It turns out that, contrary to common understanding, it actually would have been entirely acceptable for them to have travelled across the country to provide the support needed. There are hundreds of other tragic stories.
Despite all the challenges, the people of our Royal Town have come together and done their bit. They stayed at home, set up help groups to support the vulnerable and isolated, became NHS volunteers and donated to food banks. I have been proud to be part of this community.
I hope you will therefore empathise with how angry people are about reports that the Prime Minister’s Senior Adviser, Dominic Cummings, has wilfully disregarded the lockdown rules. It is deeply insulting to those of us who have endured the lockdown for the greater good. I do not dispute that he acted in a way that he felt was in the best interests of is family, but thousands of others consciously have not done so, because we were told to stay at home. They now wish that they had ignored that advice. It cannot be one rule for senior government officials and one rule for everyone else.
In putting the interests of Mr Cummings ahead of the rest of the country, the Prime Minister, in effect, has said to those diligently following the rules that those lockdown rules no longer need to be applied. So long as what you are doing is in your best interest, you can go where you want when you want to.
In backing Mr Cummings, Mr Johnson has undermined public trust to an extraordinary degree. Meaningful enforcement of ongoing public health measures could now be very difficult. I am extremely concerned that social distancing, already fragile, will now become unenforceable, risking a dangerous second wave of the virus. There is a risk that thousands more people will lose their lives, and many thousands more will lose their jobs and businesses. The issue could not be more serious.
I am therefore urging you to put the interests of your constituents first, end the distractions and join the growing number of Conservative MPs who are calling for Dominic Cummings to go.
I look forward to your response.
Liberal Democrat Parliamentary Spokesperson for Sutton Coldfield