Watch: Boris Johnson addresses the nation
Labour MPs have angrily criticised Boris Johnson after he blamed coronavirus rule-breakers for the second spike of infections.
MPs referenced Dominic Cummings, the prime minister’s top adviser, and his infamous trips to Durham and Barnard Castle at the height of lockdown.
In Johnson’s televised address to the nation on Tuesday, the PM said there have been “too many breaches” of the rules, allowing the “invisible enemy to slip through”.
It prompted a number of angry responses from Labour MPs who brought up the Cummings row from earlier this year:
The problem with Johnson is he can’t deliver a tough message. By saying he hates doing this he effectively undermines what he’s doing. And throughout his talk about people breaking the rules I just thought of Cummings.— Chris Bryant (@RhonddaBryant) September 22, 2020
Not the PM: Dominic Cummings broke the rules and I have sacked him. https://t.co/Pjo0eIuzmv— Thangam Debbonaire (@ThangamMP) September 22, 2020
Including his closest advisor - to whom the rules don’t apply https://t.co/zRJb45Zedk— Angela Eagle (@angelaeagle) September 22, 2020
The fact Cummings probably wrote that speech for the Prime Minister makes me think he’s actually trolling us all #covidbriefing— Alex Davies-Jones MP/AS (@AlexDaviesJones) September 22, 2020
In May, it emerged Cummings had been spotted at his parents’ property in Durham, where he was recovering from coronavirus symptoms.
He had travelled there from his London home on 27 March – four days after Johnson imposed the lockdown – with his wife and son, who also fell ill.
During his stay, Cummings also drove to Barnard Castle, supposedly to test his eyesight after recovering from COVID-19.
Durham Police ultimately said they would not take “retrospective action” against Cummings despite finding he may have made a “minor breach” of lockdown laws.
Watch: Dominic Cummings claims coronavirus affected his eyesight – is poor vision a symptom?
The row culminated in an extraordinary Downing Street press conference in which Cummings refused to apologise and said he had behaved reasonably and legally.
Following Tuesday’s televised address, the response to Johnson blaming rule-breakers was such that “Barnard Castle” was a trending term on Twitter.