Junior minister resigns over Cummings controversy
Junior minister Douglas Ross, parliamentary under secretary of state for Scotland, has resigned from his position amid the row over the conduct of Dominic Cummings, the prime minister’s senior adviser.
Ross’ resignation comes after Cummings defended his decision to drive 260 miles from London to County Durham with his wife and child during the Covid-19 lockdown, even though his wife was suffering from symptoms of the virus at the time.
In a press conference conducted from the gardens of Downing Street on Monday, Cummings said that he did not regret his actions and believed he had acted legally and in a responsible manner.
Moray MP Ross said in a statement: "While the intentions may have been well meaning, the reaction to this news shows that Mr Cummings’ interpretation of the government advice was not shared by the vast majority of people who have done as the government asked."
"I have constituents who didn't get to say goodbye to loved ones; families who could not mourn together; people who didn't visit sick relatives because they followed the guidance of the government.
"I cannot in good faith tell them they were all wrong and one senior adviser to the government was right."
A Downing Street spokesperson thanked Ross for his services to the government on behalf of prime minister Boris Johnson, adding that the PM “regrets” Ross’ decision to stand down.
Johnson has also expressed his regret at the “confusion and anger” stirred up by Cummings’ actions, but has continued to back his aide, saying that he acted responsibly, legally and with integrity.
Nonetheless, Cummings has faced calls to resign from opposition MPs and members of the public for breaking lockdown rules that he himself had a hand in bringing into place.
Ian Blackford, the SNP’s leader in Westminster, said that he respected Ross’ “difficult decision” to resign from his post, and urged the government to follow through by sacking Cummings.
Blackford tweeted: "This issue transcends politics. It is about protecting trust and confidence in the public health advice.”
Opposition MPs are due to meet this week to discuss plans to hold Cummings and the prime minister to account over the former's actions.