Jeremy Hunt served as health secretary under former Prime Ministers Theresa May and David Cameron from 2012 to 2018. He also served as Foreign Secretary, and quit the role after Boris Johnson became PM. He is the MP for South West Surrey and currently serves as Chair of the Health and Social Care Select Committee.
In a letter to a constituent, Mr Hunt laid out the three ways that Dominic Cummings broke lockdown rules.
He said that he was wrong in coming back into work when he had been with his wife who was ill; he should have stayed at home instead of driving to Durham; and should not have visited Barnard Castle.
The letter read: “These were clearly mistakes – both in terms of the guidance which was crystal clear, and in terms of the signal it would potentially give out to others as someone who was at the centre of government.”
The letter was first reported by The Guardian, who in a joint investigation with the Mirror broke the story about Mr Cummings.
Mr Hunt, who ran against Boris Johnson for the Conservative Party leadership in 2019, also told his constituent it was more important to hold the government to account on “whether we really are going to follow global best practice and introduce Korean/German track and trace so we kill off a second wave of the virus and get the economy back on its feet”.
But he said he would not join other Tory MP’s in calling for the senior aides resignation or sacking.
He added: “As someone who has been at the centre of media storms with a young family, I know you do make mistakes in these situations.”
“I am also not convinced that politics gains much from the spectacle of scalp-hunting even though I recognise that accountability is central to our democracy and sometimes people do need to resign.”
He also explained that after he then developed coronavirus symptoms last month, he drove to Durham to isolate his family when he and his wife feared they would be too unwell to care for their young son.
Mr Cummings admitted what appeared to be second breach of the rules when he took a 30-mile trip to the castle beauty spot, saying it was to determine whether he was fit to drive back to London since he feared his sight had been affected by the virus.
The adviser, who did not apologise for his trips, said he had no regrets about what he did, arguing it was reasonable.
Boris Johnson also supported him at the following press conference the same day, saying Cummings acted “responsibly, legally, and with integrity”.
Tory MP’s have been in revolt over the events, and have been divided on how to react to Mr Cummings.
Minister for Scotland Douglas Ross quit his role on Tuesday morning over the government’s handling of the controversy.
The Scotland Office minister said the senior aide’s view of the government guidance was “not shared by the vast majority of people”.
Mr Hunt also was among Conservative backbenchers who earlier this month criticised the government’s position on the NHS surcharge for migrant health and care workers before Boris Johnson climbed down over the issue.
The chairman of the health select committee has also criticised the government by saying he was deeply concerned there were no plans to test every close contact of people who tested positive.
Published at Wed, 27 May 2020 02:06:00 +0000