cabinet minister retaliated in the war against Dominic Cummings today by repeatedly reminding the public of his notorious trip to Durham and Barnard Castle in the first lockdown.
Work and Pensions Secretary Therese Coffey highlighted the journey which the then Downing Street senior adviser defended in an extraordinary press conference in the No10 rose garden.
In what looked like a co-ordinated No10 move this morning to discredit Mr Cummings, Ms Coffey made reference to the County Durham trip while speaking to at least three news outlets.
Asked about Mr Cummings on Sky News, she said: “A lot of people will have seen Dominic Cummings for the first time ever last year when he gave a press conference in the Rose Garden in No10. They will have come to their own views, I’m sure, the public.”
She made similar comments on Times Radio and BBC Radio 4’s Today programme.
Mr Cummings was widely condemned for driving his family from London to Durham at the end of March last year to stay at his parents’ estate after his wife fell ill with suspected coronavirus. Millions of people were staying at home at the time under Covid-19 restrictions.
But Boris Johnson stood by his then top aide who also argued that he made a 25-mile trip to Barnard Castle while in County Durham to test his eyesight before driving back to London. Now, the two are at daggers drawn, with the Prime Minister and the Conservative Party fighting a growing “sleaze” storm fuelled by an incendiary blog by Mr Cummings last week.
After being accused of leaks against Mr Johnson, he hit back with damning claims about the refurbishment of the Prime Minister’s Downing Street flat, on the “chatty rat” inquiry into the leaking of plans for a second lockdown, and the Prime Minister’s conduct.