Emily Maitlis issues crushing put-down to Boris Johnson over Cummings row

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Ms Maitlis elaborated a concise summary of the recent events that caused chaos and divide among Government officials. The BBC Two presenter was praised on social media over her candid remarks.

Boris Johnson gave an address on Sunday evening explaining that Dominic Cummings, his chief adviser, “had no alternative” but to travel 260 miles from London to County Durham with his family last month.

Addressing the audience Ms Maitlis said: “Dominic Cummings broke the rules, the country can see that, and it’s shocked the government cannot.

“The longer ministers and the prime minister tell us he worked with them, the more angry the response to this scandal is likely to be.

“He was the man, remember, who always got the public mood, he tagged the lazy label of ‘elite’ on those who disagreed.

“He should understand that public mood. One of fury, contempt, and anguish.

“He made those who struggled to keep to the rules feel like fools, and has allowed many more to feel like they can flout them.”

She added: “The prime minister knows all this, and despite the resignation of one minister, growing unease from his backbenchers, a dramatic early warning from the polls, and a deep national disquiet, Boris Johnson has chosen to ignore it.”

Ms Maitlis said she did not expect to be joined by a government minister to explain the situation, but that the programme would continue to report on the latest developments.

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Members of the audience took to Twitter upon hearing the statement to praise the presenter’s ability to describe the situation.

“Absolutely no mucking about from @maitlis,” said James Clayton.

“Maitlis destroys Cummings in 20 seconds,” posted another user.

“A great journalist puts into words the things people feel,” tweeted Stefan Simanowitz.

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On Sunday’s address, the Prime Minster said that after “extensive face-to-face conversations” he resolved that Mr Cummings did not breach the rules.

He explained that Mr Cummings and his wife had been “travelling to find the right kind of childcare, at the moment when both he and his wife were about to be incapacitated by coronavirus.”

He added: “Looking at the very severe childcare difficulties that presented themselves to Dominic Cummings and his family, I think what they did was totally understandable.

“There is guidance about that particular difficulty, about what you need to do, the pressures that families face when they have childcare needs.”

The guidance cited four “very limited purposes” for not abiding by the lockdown rules, specifically: “any medical need, including to donate blood, avoid injury or illness, escape risk of harm, or to provide care or help a vulnerable person.”

Number 10 issued a statement on Saturday advising that Mr Cummings and his wife believed that the guidelines meant that were allowed to drive north.

A Downing Street spokesman said: “Owing to his wife being infected with suspected coronavirus and the high likelihood that he would himself become unwell, it was essential for Dominic Cummings to ensure his young child could be properly cared for.

“His sister and nieces had volunteered to help so he went to a house near to but separate from his extended family in case their help was needed.

“His sister shopped for the family and left everything outside.

“At no stage was he or his family spoken to by the police about this matter, as is being reported.

“His actions were in line with coronavirus guidelines. Mr Cummings believes he behaved reasonably and legally.”

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