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A Burntwood vicar says the Government’s stance on Dominic Cummings is “insulting” to people who have followed the coronavirus guidelines.
Boris Johnson has defended his senior advisor after it emerged he made a trip to Durham during the lockdown period.
A series of Conservative MPs and ministers have moved to support the decision not to take any further action and keep Mr Cummings in post.
But Richard Westwood, vicar at St Anne’s Church in Chasetown, has now written to Michael Fabricant MP to register his concern over the Government’s position.
“During my lifetime there has not been a time when there has been a greater need for the UK Government to be trusted by the people they lead.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has stretched every part of our national and community life, and the next steps in emerging from this crisis are arguably the most difficult to manage.
“I, like many people across the constituency and the country, have been astonished at the behaviour of our Government in recent days.
“The manner with which Mr Cummings has been defended by cabinet ministers leaves me speechless.”Richard Westwood, vicar of St Anne’s Church in Chasetown
The vicar said he found the stance of the Government to be “insulting” to residents who had followed the guidance.
“Had Mr Cummings spoken with a contrite and humble tone and apologised for making an error of judgement in the middle of a family health crisis, I think many in our nation would have identified with the dilemma he and his family faced and would have understood and forgiven his actions.
“Sadly, there was no evidence whatsoever of any form of humility or apology in what he said, or in what the Prime Minister has said in his comments about the matter.
“Like many others, I found it insulting to be subjected to a retrospective representation of clearly laid out Government guidelines which the vast majority of our country has bravely stuck to in recent weeks.
“In our community, the Burntwood Be A Friend support network has been helping local families affected by COVID-19 – some of them with just the same issues and dilemmas which Mr Cummings faced.
“Remarkably, and at great cost to themselves and others, they managed to stick to the clear instruction to ‘stay at home’. Are these people less of a good parent because they followed the rules?”Richard Westwood, Vicar of St Anne’s Church in Chasetown
“Serious and potentially deadly consequences”
The vicar added that the public needed to feel confident in the guidance they were being given by the Government going forward.
And he said the example needed to be set at the very top.
“If this were a mere political story I could write it off as a Westminster storm-in-a-teacup – but it is clear that if the general public believes it is reasonable to interpret public health guidance according to their own instincts, then the potential risk of a second wave of infections will only increase.
“Surely the Government knows that if people cannot co-operate with the health advice which they receive, there will be serious and potentially deadly consequences to this lack of compliance?
“It is for these reasons that trust and transparency are vital in the current health crisis.
“Our nation needs the Government to act with integrity in these matters. I do not believe we are seeing this at present.”Richard Westwood, vicar of St Anne’s Church in Chasetown
Mr Fabricant has previously said he understands the anger people feel on the issue around Mr Cummings – but added “it is not clear he has broken the rules”.