Buckingham MP Greg Smith: 'There cannot be one rule for one and another rule for others'
The newly elected MP has shared his Coronavirus lockdown experiences in a heartfelt letter to constituents.
He shared his concerns about Dominic Cummings 'driving to test his eyesight' but also lamented 'press harassment' that he and his family had also received.
However he has underlined that all must be committed to Government advice to help fight the 'invisible killer', Coronavirus.
MP Greg Smith writes:
"Everyone continues to need to follow the government advice to combat this invisible killer.
"Over the bank holiday weekend I gave considerable thought to the story your question clearly derives from, involving Dominic Cummings. I have also received an enormous number of emails from constituents, some absolutely heart breaking.
"I deliberately waited to write my thoughts on this until I had heard Mr Cummings speak directly on Monday, then slept on it. The following, I am afraid rather long piece, sets out where I stand on this issue.
"I totally understand the level of frustration and anger being felt right now. From first principles, there simply cannot be one rule for some and another rule for others.
"Like the vast majority of people in our country, I have been at home since 19th March. My wife and I, along with our baby and three year old son, self isolated for 14 days from that point after my wife developed a mild cough, which I caught a couple of days later.
"Personally I continued to isolate for a further week still, until all signs of that cough had gone. Since then I have continued to work from home, save a few days where I have volunteered in the constituency, such as collecting donations for local food banks, doing the weekly family shop and permitted exercise (I say exercise, more like very gentle wander at toddler pace).
"I have also been unable to see my father, who in his 70s has had to undergo an urgent medical procedure in the past week. I know there are thousands of similar stories across the Buckingham constituency and our country. Many people making much greater, more painful and difficult sacrifices.
"I accept we were lucky. At no point did my wife or I feel unable to look after our children. I also confess that we did not make a plan for a scenario whereby we both became too ill to look after our sons.
"I know I would do anything to protect my own children. I do not know Dominic Cummings personally, but I have no doubt that like any other parent, he made his decisions - rightly or wrongly - about the Durham trip in what he perceived to be the best interests of his child. He must not be condemned for the specific act of making a decision based on the interests of his child.
"Likewise I am horrified at reports of the level of harassment, over a prolonged period, that the Cummings family have had to suffer at their family home. I understand this pre-dates the Covid-19 crisis, particularly from those who take a very hard line anti-Brexit outlook. No matter what stance individuals take on the Brexit issue, or any other political issue, that level of harassment can not be deemed acceptable in our democracy. Whilst not the same as having my house mobbed, I have been in receipt of a politically motivated threat to abduct my children and can assure you that it is the most unpleasant, scary and unbelievably horrible experience to go through. The sight of the media outside the Cummings’ home over the weekend, huddled together, excited for a scalp, breaking every social distancing rule, equally can not be excused.
"Nevertheless, Mr Cummings said himself in his press conference that he accepts reasonable people may not agree with all his decisions. I personally cannot reconcile in my mind how driving to a property other than their primary residence to self isolate was within the spirit of the guidelines and would like to see those guidelines formally clarified. I am certain I would not have chosen this path myself. This is a subjective viewpoint though, as the advice given by Dr Harries on 24th March around “exceptional circumstances” with relation to looking after children, does seem to mean the rules have not technically been broken.
"I take particular issue with the concept of driving a car in order to test eyesight.
"Other allegations, such as a second trip from London to the north east are heavily disputed by Mr Cummings. I will maintain the age old British value of believing someone to be innocent until proven guilty on this particular point.
"I have made the concerns I outlined above clearly known to the government on this. I will also ensure everyone who has asked me to pass on their views will be individually replied to and sent on to government.
"I will continue to do all I can to support my constituents that need my help. There is no doubt in my mind that what is most important right now is to beat this disease, get the economy moving and return to ‘normal’ life. I very much hope we will be able to all see our family and friends again very soon."