I have taken time to review Mr Cummings's statement and read the reports, and have taken the following view.
From the outset, the media have not helped to separate fact from fiction. As such, it is difficult to make conclusions regarding whether or not Mr Cummings actions fell within the scope of what was allowed under the law as the details surrounding his case have become increasingly unclear, but I appreciate that many people will have their own opinions.
I believe, as the vast majority of people do, that the measures the Government has announced throughout the lockdown have been put in place to ensure that the NHS can cope with demand and, ultimately, save lives. These measures are for everybody to follow – me, you, and every single other member of the British public – and Mr Cummings is no exception.
We have all had to make significant sacrifices over the last few months, and it is testament to the resolve of the vast majority of the British people that they have complied with these restrictions so diligently. The anguish that constituents have faced during this crisis, particularly in not being able to comfort members of their family who were ill is particularly distressing. So too is where this has involved a death and they have not been able to attend a funeral.
I share the frustration that has developed from those who believe that the events of the last few days, has pulled the focus of the Government away from its most important task, which is defeating Coronavirus, and I understand that many people feel Mr Cummings actions have only undermined the effectiveness of the government message – which is to stay at home and save lives.
Mr Cummings unprecedented statement dealt with a number of concerns, such as the misleading media stories about the police, and the untrue story in The Mirror concerning allegations of multiple family trips to his parents. On the whole, I felt his motivation was about being a father and a husband who did what he believed was right, but at the same time, I understand the comments made by constituents about his trip to Barnard Castle and some of the questions about his travel.
We have all had to use our personal judgement and common sense throughout this crisis, and Mr Cummings is no exception. I believe that, above all else, this continuing situation is creating nothing more than a distraction from the vital work of government as it leads our country through this coronavirus pandemic. In Southport, this has meant that I have had to devote a significant amount of time and energy away from constituents who require assistance in helping them access testing, pastoral care, personal financial support and business support, to responding to emails about this situation. This cannot continue - we must restore public confidence.
As the MP for Southport, I have a duty to focus my efforts on providing help and support to those constituents who need it at this very difficult time, and to represent their views - nothing is more important to me than the people I am honoured to serve. I will be sure to raise the concerns I have received in the last few days with the Prime Minister and will do what I can to press upon the government the need to ensure those who help create the rules are bound by them.