So, the coronavirus guidance says if you or someone you live with has symptoms of coronavirus, do not leave home for any reason, unless you need to find someone to look after your toddler. Which is why Dominic Cummings was following the guidance when he drove 260 miles from London to Durham with a car full of coronovirus, just so that his sister could look after his four-year-old son while he and his wife lay in bed with that coronavirus.
Or something. It probably won’t take you long to find the flaw in the above argument. However, it appears to have gone over the heads of several Cabinet ministers, who – led by Michael Gove at 10:28 am – took to Twitter on Saturday to express their outrage at the political point-scoring about a man doing what any good person would do to look after their wife and toddler. Even though the guidance says any good person shouldn’t do that.
Including Leader of the Lords Baroness Evans (who is not on Twitter), there are 26 full members of the Cabinet, but Environment Secretary George Eustice and Scottish Secretary Alistair Jack are also not on Twitter. And it’s not looking that great for The Great Toddler Carer. As of 11pm, only 14 Cabinet members have tweeted their support (if we include Chief Secretary Steve Barclay’s restrained RT of Rishi Sunak’s tweet, Home Secretary Priti Patel’s equally restrained and somewhat belated RT of Dominic Raab’s tweet, Education Secretary Gavin Williamson’s even later RT of Matt Hancock’s tweet, and Minister Without Portfolio’s Amanda Milling’s RT of Rishi Sunak’s tweet).
However, if we reach the position where a clear majority of the Cabinet have expressed the view that it is OK to flout the coronavirus guidance so long as you are only doing what any good person would do, does that mean the lockdown is over?
We should be told. In the meantime, here’s a record of who’s said what, so far.
|Prime Minister||Boris Johnson|
|Chancellor||Rishi Sunak||Taking care of your wife and young child is justifiable and reasonable, trying to score political points over it isn’t.||Tweeted at 11:19|
|Foreign Secretary||Dominic Raab||It’s reasonable and fair to ask for an explanation on this. And it has been provided: two parents with Coronavirus, were anxiously taking care of their young child. Those now seeking to politicise it should take a long hard look in the mirror.||Tweeted at 10:53|
|Home Secretary||Priti Patel||RT’d Dominic Raab’s tweet|
|Duchy of Lancaster||Michael Gove||Caring for your wife and child is not a crime
|Tweeted at 10:28
Later RT’d Rishi Sunak’s tweet
|Justice Secretary||Robert Buckland||Nothing so far|
|Defence Secretary||Ben Wallace||Nothing so far|
|Health Secretary||Matt Hancock||I know how ill coronavirus makes you. It was entirely right for Dom Cummings to find childcare for his toddler, when both he and his wife were getting ill.||Tweeted at 12:52|
|Business Secretary||Alok Sharma||The circumstances have been explained, the guidance was followed. Time [to] stop the political attacks and move on as we work together to combat this awful virus||Tweeted at 14:23|
|International Trade Secretary||Liz Truss||Nothing so far|
|Work & Pensions Secretary||Therese Coffey||Nothing so far|
|Education Secretary||Gavin Williamson||RT’d Matt Hancock’s tweet|
|Environment Secretary||George Eustice||Not on Twitter|
|HCLG Secretary||Robert Jenrick||Nothing so far|
|Transport Secretary||Grant Shapps||Nothing so far, but strongly defended Cummings at Saturday’s press briefing|
|NI Secretary||Brandon Lewis||Father looks after child, within guidelines…..&…?
It is fair to have questioned this – but an answer has been provided. Acting in the best interests of your family (and within the Government’s guidelines) is not a crime
|Tweeted at 12:12 and 12:16|
|Scottish Secretary||Alistair Jack||Not on Twitter|
|Welsh Secretary||Simon Hart||Nothing so far|
|Culture Secretary||Oliver Dowden||Dom Cummings followed the guidelines and looked after his family. End of story.||Tweeted at 16:49|
|International Development Secretary||Anne-Marie Trevelyan||The key ask to all citizens has always been to isolate as a household whilst any one of them is symptomatic. The responsibility of parenthood and needing family support in case extreme illness struck, is a situation any parent would understand & sympathise with.||Tweeted at 12:08|
|Minister without portfolio||Amanda Milling||RT’d Rishi Sunak’s tweet|
|Chief Secretary||Steve Barclay||RT’d Rishi Sunak’s tweet|
|Commons Leader||Jacob Rees-Mogg||Caring for your child is obviously reasonable. Surely any parent of a three year old would want to ensure they are safe at all times. Politically motivated attacks on a good father are discreditable.||Tweeted at 13:05|
|Lords Leader||Baroness Evans||Not on Twitter|
|Chief Whip||Mark Spencer||Nothing so far|
|Attorney General||Suella Braverman||Protecting one’s family is what any good parent does. The [10 Downing St] statement clarifies the situation and it is wholly inappropriate to politicise it.||Tweeted at 13.40|
And here’s how those tweets are doing (as of 8am on 24 May).