SINCE the Prime Minister and his Cabinet thinks Dominic Cummings was entitled to drive with his wife and child from his home in London to a wee but ’n’ ben in Durham to self-isolate, the rest of us will just have to accept what we are told by this mendacious bunch of spineless charlatans, won’t we?

Yet there are huge holes in this whole tissue of nonsense, and leaving aside the initial daylight flit to his parents’ place, Cummings has huge questions to answer.

I discount the alleged April 19 return to Durham, because even he is not that arrogantly stupid – or maybe he is. But as yet, there has been no specific denial from him or Number 10 about the alleged visit to Barnard Castle on Easter Sunday, April 12, which is reportedly also his wife Mary Wakefield’s birthday.

If they made the near-60 mile round trip to Barnard Castle from Durham for whatever reason, they were breaking the lockdown “no travel” rules enforced by the UK Government.

Very significantly, during his woeful briefing last evening, Boris “de piffle” Johnson refused to answer a direct question from the BBC’s Ian Watson on whether Cummings made that April 12 trip.

That’s because he knows that if Cummings made that trip – and retired chemistry teacher Robin Lees is a powerful witness that he did – then his senior aide broke the rules without question and must go. And go soon. Or else the UK Government has no “reasonability, legality or integrity”, to paraphrase the PM, in its health messages.

It gets worse for Cummings. He drives a Land Rover Discovery in which even the most frugal driver would struggle to achieve 400 miles on a full tank. So on their 520 mile round trip, did Cummings stop for petrol? If so, where, and shouldn’t the public using service stations up and down the M1 not have the right to know they were in the vicinity of an infected person? And if he did it all and not stop, can he solve the world’s carbon fuel problems and let us know how he did it?

Leaving aside the fact that strict rules appear to have been broken, this is a classic political scandal. As a former hack himself, the Prime Minister is well aware that it is not usually the fact of wrongdoing that gets you, it is the cover up, and what he and his Cabinet colleagues did on Saturday and yesterday was to orchestrate a massive attempt to bluster their way out of it and conceal the truth and the damage being done.

As someone who spent several years in PR, it stank of an organised cover-up. The tweets from the various ministers read like they had been dictated by Cummings himself – they probably were. They all took much the same lines: Gove tweeted “not a crime”, Sunak said “justifiable and reasonable”, Dowden tweeted “Dom Cummings followed the guidelines and looked after his family”.

Lo and behold, having had his underlings try out the message as kite flyers, Johnson himself followed these lines at his briefing.

The problem for Mr Piffle Johnson is this – the public are massively against letting Cummings off the hook, and the opposition, especially the SNP, will go for the jugular of both men, and rightly so.

When the news of this scandal – and it is most definitely a huge scandal – first broke on Friday night, Boris Johnson should have summoned Cummings and asked him to resign. And if he refused, Johnson should have sacked him. After all, that’s the political game – when your own backside is being held to the fire, you lay down your friends for your life, as Jeremy Thorpe quipped when Harold MacMillan did it in 1962.

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Trust Johnson to think that he can buck the trend and prove that he is a master of spin who can hoodwink the public time and time again and get away with it. The trouble this time is that the PM’s stance on this issue is going to raise many more questions than it answers.

Is a civil servant, albeit a very senior one, so untouchable? Has he given a green light for rule breaking by the public and those who surround him? In future when ministers screw up, and this incompetent mob will do so, they can brazen it out as Johnson and Cummings are doing.

For the sake of democracy, they must not be allowed to do so, but in the UK one party state, they’ll probably get away with it.