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UK: Slingshot intensifies against Johnson's advisor

By AFP | May 27th 2020

The British government on Tuesday saw the slingshot intensify in its own camp over the displacement in full confinement of Prime Minister Boris Johnson's advisor, Dominic Cummings, whose explanations were not enough to put out the fire.

After the resignation of a secretary of state, several deputies have joined the ranks of the now almost 40 conservative elected officials who are demanding, according to British media, the departure of the very influential and controversial adviser, considered to be the brain of the referendum campaign of 2016 which led to Brexit.

Having risen personally to defend his close ally, Boris Johnson finds himself having to manage this affair in the midst of a very delicate phase of deconfinement.

"Residents of my riding could not say goodbye to their loved ones, families could not grieve together, people could not visit their sick loved ones because they were following government recommendations "said the resigned secretary of state for Scotland, Douglas Ross, on Twitter.

"I cannot honestly tell them that they were all wrong and that a government adviser was right," he said.

During an exceptional press conference for an adviser on Monday, Dominic Cummings expressed no apologies or regrets but assured having acted in a "legal and reasonable" manner by covering 400 kilometers despite the confinement which required the British to stay at home.

Fearing he might be infected with the new coronavirus, he said he went with his wife and four-year-old son to his parents' home in Durham, in the North East of England, because he was looking for a solution to to have your child looked after.

A second trip is particularly criticized: a visit near the medieval castle of Barnard, about forty kilometers from his parents' home, on the day of his wife's birthday. The adviser assured that this car trip should allow him to verify that he could drive safely because his eyesight had been affected by the virus.

Fines removed?

At a press conference on Tuesday, Health Minister Matt Hancock said the government would examine the possibility of removing fines for those who failed to stay in confinement due to child custody.

"I have to consult my Treasury colleagues before I can give you a full answer," he said when asked by a member of the public, a pastor from Brighton (South).

Despite the government's attempt to come to the aid of the adviser, the storm continues to rumble, including in the conservative ranks, where according to the British press nearly 40 deputies are calling for his resignation.

According to a poll published Tuesday by the YouGov institute, 59% of those questioned are in favor of his resignation and 52% of the supporters of Brexit, of which Mr. Cummings is a figurehead.

In addition to this affair, Michael Heseltine, figure of the "tory" party wondered about the influence of the adviser "who has no account to report to anyone except the Prime Minister, but seems to have more and more power".

Boris Johnson held two press conferences to defend his adviser to whom he is very close, conceding Monday evening regretting the "confusion" and "anger" caused by the case.

He must manage this file at the same time as the release of a difficult to manage containment in the United Kingdom, where many beaches and parks found themselves crowded this weekend. The Conservative leader was already accused by the opposition of having delayed decreeing confinement and providing enough medical suits and masks to carers and employees of retirement homes.

The United Kingdom is the second country in the world most bereaved by the new coronavirus, after the United States: 37,048 people (+134) tested positive for the Covid-19 disease have died, according to a report by the Ministry of Health published Tuesday. For the first time since March 18, Northern Ireland has recorded no deaths, said Matt Hancock.

But the count exceeds 46,000 deaths if we include unconfirmed but suspected cases, according to the National Bureau of Statistics.

Hancock also announced that the antiviral remdesivir, which has been shown to be of modest efficacy against the new coronavirus, will be administered to certain patients in the UK.

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