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Boris Johnson is facing a revolt from scores of his own backbenchers as they line up to condemn the prime minister and his chief adviser, Dominic Cummings.
At least 15 Conservative backbenchers have called for Cummings to go, while several others have spoken out against his actions.
A number of MPs, including the newly elected Elliot Colburn, Paul Holmes and Jonathan Gullis, have used the used the same wording in their responses, saying they have “conveyed the strength of local feeling to relevant colleagues” after being contacted by constituents.
Conservative former minister Paul Maynard said he shared people’s “dismay” at the PM’s response, and was one of many MPs who insisted Cummings should quit or be sacked.
It is a classic case of ‘do as I say, not as I do’ – and it is not as if he was unfamiliar with guidance he himself helped draw up. It seems to me to be utterly indefensible and his position wholly untenable.
Veteran Conservative Sir Roger Gale told PA Media: “I’m very disappointed, I think it was an opportunity to put this to bed and I fear that now the story is simply going to run and run.”
The Somerton and Frome MP, David Warburton, said Cummings was “damaging the government and the country that he’s supposed to be serving”.
Speaking on BBC Breakfast on Monday morning, he said his own father had died alone as a result of the coronavirus lockdown.
People have made sacrifices, this is a difficult time, this is a time of national crisis.
In those sacrifices there really hasn’t been the choice to use instinct. Instinct hasn’t really been part of it. We’ve been tasked with following regulations laid down by the government.
Tory grandee Lord Heseltine said it was “very difficult to believe there isn’t a substance” in the allegations about Cummings’ movements.
“I think these unanswered questions are now on the agenda,” he told the BBC, “and I don’t think that this anxiety about the government’s position will end until we know the whole story.”
Former minister Steve Baker said if Cummings does not resign “we’ll just keep burning through Boris’s political capital at a rate we can ill afford in the midst of this crisis”.
Other critics include Peter Aldous, Peter Bone, Damian Collins, Caroline Nokes, Julian Sturdy, Robert Syms, Craig Whittaker, James Gray and Martin Vickers.