A WEEK after his now infamous appearance in the rose garden at No 10 Downing Street, Dominic Cummings is still making headlines. It’s hardly surprising considering the feeling of outrage amongst the public, and the shambolic way in which the UK Government has dealt with the controversy.

Never as an MP have I received so many emails from people right across the UK. Thousands of people have written to me about the Prime Minister’s top adviser, and the feeling of anger is palpable. There is disbelief at his actions – travelling to Durham, returning to work when his wife was symptomatic, his day-trip to Barnard Castle. Indeed, it seems he broke the rules, multiple times, while telling others to obey them.

There has also been growing frustration and incredulity at the UK Government’s handling of the scandal. There was the bullish response from Downing Street’s press office as the UK Government criticised the “campaigning newspapers” who broke the story. Press advisers claimed the reports were inaccurate or false, only for Cummings to confirm them himself at his own bizarre press conference. There were the comments from Tory MPs defending the trip to Durham, only for them to fall silent on the day trip to Barnard Castle. Between Cummings’s press statement and the account written by his wife in Spectator magazine, there are too many inconsistencies for his and the Government’s response to be believable or credible. It feels as though we have been watching a debacle from Trump’s White House rather than Westminster, because when the Tories tell us Dominic Cummings didn’t break lockdown rules, we don’t believe them. What’s worse is they know it, and they don’t care. It sets a new, dangerous precedent for UK politics.

The legacy of this scandal, when the finer details are forgotten, will be how it has harmed public health. By failing to remove Dominic Cummings from his post, Boris Johnson has put the Government’s health messaging at risk. Leading public health experts and police in England have warned that the scandal has severely undermined trust in the rules and those who set them, and unsurprisingly there is already anecdotal evidence to suggest the inaction taken by Boris Johnson over Dominic Cummings’s behaviour is encouraging others to flout the rules.

By choosing not to follow his own guidelines, Dominic Cummings also undermines the UK Government’s test, trace and isolate efforts, especially as it is the “isolation” of cases and their contacts which is crucial to breaking the chains of infection and avoiding a second wave of Covid-19. Quite simply, the action, or rather inaction, of the Prime Minister in recent days is endangering lives.