To Simon Jupp, MP
House of Commons
London SW1A 0AA
Thursday, 28th May, 2020
Dear Mr Jupp,
I am a resident of East Devon, the parliamentary constituency which you currently represent. I am writing to express my deepest concerns about the conduct of the Prime Minister and of his senior adviser, Dominic Cummings.
You and I both know that Boris Johnson is a dishonest man and an incompetent politician, unfit for the office of Prime Minister and unequal to the challenges of the current crisis. You and I also both know that your position as a Conservative MP makes it impossible for you to acknowledge openly that this is the case, so I suggest that we just take that as read, and spare ourselves the bother and embarrassment of your having to go through the motions of “disagreeing” with facts that you, as an intelligent person, know to be true.
In an ideal world I would prefer to see you cross the floor of the House of Commons to join the opposition, which, for the first time in several years, now has a capable and credible leader whose moral and intellectual rigour stand in stark contrast to those of the Prime Minister. However, we don’t live in an ideal world, and I appreciate that you are unlikely to contemplate such a step. So let’s try to work within the boundaries of the possible. You are my MP, which means that you represent me in Parliament, and as such I urge you in the strongest possible terms to reject the increasingly desperate exhortations of the Prime Minister and his inner circle to “move on” from the Dominic Cummings scandal.
It is not time to “move on”. On the contrary, it is time to stand firm and hold Mr Cummings to account for his reckless and unacceptable conduct. As you know, Mr Cummings breached the lockdown rules, a fact confirmed today by the Durham Police investigation. As you also know, the Prime Minister has continued to insist, in denial of the facts, that Mr Cummings did not break the rules. Worse than that, the Prime Minister has asserted that the conduct of Mr Cummings was praiseworthy. To quote the Prime Minister on 24th May: “I believe that in every respect he has acted responsibly, legally and with integrity.”
This is beyond ridiculous. You are aware, of course, that Mr Cummings’s account of his drive to Barnard Castle, hedged about with a festoon of preposterous excuses which kick “The dog ate my homework” into the long grass, has become a national joke. And yes, it’s funny – just as any culpable public figure making a jackass of himself at a press conference will always be funny – but it would be altogether funnier if the ramifications were not so gravely serious. Tens of thousands of people are already dead. The government’s incompetent handling of the crisis over the last few months has led us to where we are now: the UK’s statistics of infection and death from Covid-19 are, shamefully, among the worst in the world. All of this you know, so let’s not labour the point. Let us instead focus on the fact that the conduct of Mr Cummings has lit a fire under a dangerous and misguided notion that the lockdown is all but over. Police forces around the country are now reporting that foolhardy people have been breaking the lockdown rules in increasing numbers this week, offering the not entirely unreasonable argument that if Dominic Cummings can do it, then so can they.
Worse still, in the frantic attempt to chivvy the nation into “moving on” from the scandal, Mr Johnson and Mr Cummings have resorted to blurting out headline-grabbing new measures which are ill-considered and premature. The test-and-trace programme, appallingly belated though it may be, has been rushed out before it is ready. Enticing hints from the Prime Minister about pubs reopening, about lockdown being eased, fly in the face of the increasingly sidelined advice of medical experts. But no matter: anything to divert and distract from the Cummings scandal.
But despite these strenuous efforts, it’s not going well for the Prime Minister, who, like Mr Cummings, seems to believe that a global health crisis can be handled in much the same way as they handled the general election and the vote leave campaign: with dishonesty, bluster and slogans. This week, the scripted soundbite “Move on” has become the new “Get Brexit done”, but it turns out that the British people aren’t quite as stupid as that. Covid-19 is a deadly pandemic, not a PR opportunity. Mr Johnson’s latest polling figures are atrocious, and there is every indication that Mr Cummings is the principal cause. Needless to say, there are those around the Prime Minister who continue to cling to the wreckage. It was quite a spectacle to see Matt Hancock lecturing us from the podium yesterday about our “civic duty” at a time when the entire country is reeling from the knowledge that Mr Cummings so signally failed to do his civic duty, and that those who leaped to his defence earlier this week included Mr Hancock himself. Other members of your party, yourself included, have been less hypocritical. One minister has resigned, and at the time of writing, some 47 Conservative MPs have called for the removal of Mr Cummings.
Yet still the Prime Minister digs in his heels. In his decision to place the job of an adviser above every other consideration, Mr Johnson has been persuaded (one can only assume by Mr Cummings himself) not only to torpedo his own popularity ratings, but to endanger, directly, the health and safety of the British public.
The Conservative Party has a long tradition of defenestrating its leaders without ceremony or sentiment once they become a liability to the party and to the country. In any sane world, your party would never have elected a charlatan like Mr Johnson as its leader in the first place, and I am confident that it is only a matter of time before you and your colleagues remove him from a position which, as he is now demonstrating on a daily basis, he is unfit to hold. However, in the matter of Dominic Cummings, we cannot wait that long. Mr Cummings is a wholly malign presence at the heart of this disastrous government. He must be dismissed from his post immediately, and denied any future influence on policy-making, on Downing Street, and on the British people whom he manifestly holds in such contempt. His continued presence at the heart of government is a stain on the Conservative Party and on the United Kingdom.
I would be grateful if you could convey my feelings to the Prime Minister.