Carlaw tells Downing Street that Dominic Cummings should 'consider his position'
Jackson Carlaw has told Downing Street that he believes Dominic Cummings should “consider his position”, and says the Prime Minister’s chief adviser has become a “distraction” from public health messaging on COVID-19.
In an interview with STV News, Carlaw said that the row over Cummings’ violation of lockdown was “consuming the entire debate” and “distracting away from the principle message and the virus”.
He said that if he were in Cummings’ position he would resign, adding: “my view has been made clear to Downing Street.”
The Scottish Conservatives leader spoke after Conservative MP Douglas Ross resigned from the government in protest of Boris Johnson’s decision to keep Cummings in the position, after it emerged he had driven from London to Durham with his family while his wife had shown symptoms of coronavirus.
Ross, who was the Under Secretary of State for Scotland, was the first Scottish Tory figure to speak out on the matter, which put pressure on leader Jackson Carlaw to address the situation directly.
Carlaw said the “furore” over Cummings’ actions had become a “distraction for the Prime Minister” which risked “diluting the message” on how the public should behave.
He said that he believed Cummings’ explanation for breaking lockdown rules “seemed quite sincere and heartfelt” but added that it was important that the government show that the rules were being enforced “without fear or favour”.
"I'm saying that I have heard his version of events. Some people will have found them credible, other people...I think that his position as he articulated it was an understandable one but there clearly is a concern that irrespective of whether or not he acted legally or otherwise, people have to know that everybody is acting without fear or favour with respect to obeying the rules,” he said.
He added: “That's why if it were me, I would be considering my position”.
Asked if he believed Johnson should sack Cummings, Carlaw said that he would not “issue instructions to the Prime Minister”, but added that the story was interfering with his own job as Scottish Conservatives leader.
He said: “Here in Scotland my job as opposition leader is to hold the Scottish Government to account, to point out where there are shortcomings not for the sake of that but to ensure that we then get the right policy in place.
"That's what my energy and attention should be on. We want to see the whole country defeat this virus and we can't do it if the debate is being distracted by other things.”