None of us could have foreseen the circumstances of the past few months and the collective effort within our communities to support the vulnerable and our fellow residents has been incredible.
We continue to face many challenges; therefore, my priority remains to work with my colleagues to enact policies and decisions that will protect jobs and safeguard the interests of the most vulnerable, maintain our public services and support local businesses across Erewash.
Over recent days I have received an unprecedented amount of correspondence regarding the actions of the Prime Minister’s Chief of Staff, Dominic Cummings, during the initial period of lockdown, both for and against.
I have read each and every one with care, and whilst I am unable to respond to individual points, I trust that the following statement clarifies my informed thinking on the matter, having now had time to consider all the facts alongside the views of my Constituents.
In my previous life as a biomedical scientist, I was trained to come to an evidence-based conclusion based on the available information or data at the time. This is the same approach I now use to advise Constituents who seek my help as their Member of Parliament on a wide range issues, not just Coronavirus.
During this period of national and international crisis, I have been supporting hundreds, if not thousands of local people, including many businesses, to navigate the raft of new regulations and guidance which currently governs our day to day lives.
Enquires have ranged from whether it was permissible to collect a relative from the airport following their repatriation back to the UK to how to get married in exceptional circumstances.
In each instance I have had to use my personal judgment based on my best understanding and interpretation of the guidance and regulations. However ultimately individuals must take personal responsibility for their own action. I fully accept that presented with the same facts, others may have come to an entirely different conclusion because many of these situations are very rarely black or white.
What is eminently clear is that there cannot be one rule for some and not for another.
When the British Public has given up so much to combat Coronavirus, I fully understand the strength of feeling and, in some cases anger, shown when someone has acted in a way in which they do not agree is right.
In the specific case of Mr Cummings, I share some of the concerns that have been raised regarding his conduct, but I do not believe it either mine or the media’s place to pronounce on his guilt, especially given that the Police have now concluded their inquiry into his actions with no further action being taken.
There must be very few of us who truly know what we would have done in these same unique circumstances.
I was particularly shocked to learn through his personal statement on Monday (25th May 2020), that he and his family have been “subject to threats of violence”, including activists targeting his London home and encouraging personal attacks on social media.
As someone who has also been subject to violent threats and who is in the public eye, I can empathise to a certain degree with just how unnerving this is.
Having a young child in the house must have only served to exacerbate the situation and I am sure this will have inevitably been a factor in Mr Cummings’ decision.
As a Government Minister, I am in the privileged position of being able to ensure my views, but more importantly the strength of feeling of the residents of Erewash, are conveyed directly to the Prime Minister. I have always taken my role of representing Erewash extremely seriously and, in my experience, well defined but private representations are far more effective than public proclamations.
Rest assured I have communicated the many views I have received to the Prime Minister and I am sure he will take these into consideration going forward.