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Angry constituents send MPs hundreds of letters about Dominic Cummings’ lockdown trip to Durham

PUBLISHED: 16:29 26 May 2020 | UPDATED: 17:16 26 May 2020

South Suffolk MP James Cartlidge said some constituents had changed their view on Dominic Cummings' trip. Picture:Sarah Lucy Brown

South Suffolk MP James Cartlidge said some constituents had changed their view on Dominic Cummings' trip. Picture:Sarah Lucy Brown

Offices of Conservative MPs in the area have received a deluge of emails from angry constituents over the bank holiday weekend – the vast majority expressing disgust at the actions of Dominic Cummings in driving to Durham during the lockdown.

And while a few were sent from people expressing support for him after his Downing Street press conference, the majority were from people who were deeply upset that he had apparently broken the lockdown rules.

Waveney MP Peter Aldous, who changed his mind about the issue over the weekend and came to the conclusion that Mr Cummings would have to go, said: “The letters have almost all come from people telling me their individual stories about how they haven’t been able to see their parents or their children over the lockdown – and how angry they are that the rules have been broken.

“When you’re an MP you can spot a campaign or an organised set of letters. This is not like that. These are individually written from the heart. I have had about 20 saying they understood why Mr Cummings did what he did – but you have to set that against hundreds from the other side.”

Another MP’s office had had more than 500 e-mails “and not from the usual suspects” with only a handful expressing any support for the PM’s policy chief.

More on the coronavirus crisis

South Suffolk MP James Cartlidge felt constituents were now starting to move on from the row – but said some people would never accept Mr Cummings’ explanation. He said: “I can understand why he felt he had to get out of London. At the time all this happened we were still all sitting in the House, Westminster was a hotspot for the virus – and he also had a mob outside his home. He needed to find somewhere safe.”

After the broadcast he had heard from constituents who had felt Mr Cummings should go – but who now accepted his explanation and felt it was time to move on.

“I know our political opponents will never be satisfied – and the Westminster bubble is still angry about the situation. But I think many people just want to get on and look at the next steps back to normal,”

Central Suffolk and North Ipswich MP Dr Dan Poulter is on annual leave after working through the lockdown in a London hospital – but said he felt it was wrong to sack people for one mistake. He did not think Scottish medical director Catherine Calderwood or Prof Neil Ferguson should have had to go – but, in the light of their departures, Mr Cummings might not survive in post.

Bury St Edmunds MP Jo Churchill, Suffolk Coastal’s Dr Therese Coffey and Ipswich MP Tom Hunt did not respond to our calls, although Mr Hunt did express concerns about Mr Cummings’ trip on Monday, while West Suffolk MP and health secretary Matt Hancock issued a statement backing Mr Cummings’ trip to Durham.


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