Speaking to BBC Yorkshire, the Labour leader accused the Prime Minister of showing to be “weak” in the face of allegations against his top political adviser Dominic Cummings of flouting coronavirus lockdown rules. Sir Keir Starmer said: “The most important thing here is not these technical issues, the problem is that by not dealing with Cummings in a strong way, the Prime Minister has not only shown himself to be weak, and he has shown himself to be weak.
“I mean he’s so desperate for his advisor, h’ell cling on to him through thick and thin.
“But more importantly, what I’m worried about is that people might think: ‘Well, if Cummings doesn’t have to abide by the rules, why do I have to?’
“And then you’re on a slippery slope, because as we come out of lockdown it’s really important, and I will support the Government, that we all comply with the rules.
“We’ve all been doing that and so the real risk here is that we lose control of the rules, which actually are necessary, because in the ned we are talking about the health and lives of many people across Yorkshire and across the rest of the United Kingdom.”
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But his bashing of the Prime Minister’s approach to the Dominic Cummings saga backfired as BBC viewers took to Twitter to accuse the Labour leader of being a hypocrite.
One viewer said: “Another pointless Keir Starmer sound bite …Durham police spoke out yea correct NO ACTION.
“Not dealing with Cummings.. hmm Stephen Kinnock got a promotion. Tahir Ali NO Action. Kevan Jones NO ACTION…That’s strong leadership Is it Mr Starmer.”
And another: “The real problem is that you have to try to keep yourself feeling important every morning for the morning news progs. When in reality your are not important at all. Your just a well-spoken bloke in a suit, can’t really think of anything else.”
One Twitter user added: “Is this the Kier Starmer that said whilst in charge of DPP that he would not criticise those that worked for him. What strong action has he taken against the 3 Labour politicians who infringed lockdown regulations. Diddly squat”
And another wrote: “Why have you not fired Kinnock and TahirAli for breaking lockdown rules? BBC News, why are Labour MPs breaking lockdown rules not headline news? #TotalHypocrites #leftyBBC”
Labour MP Tahir Ali was forced to apologise after he attended a large funeral, while MP Stephen Kinnock was accused of flouting rules for driving to his parents’ house.
However, more than 60 Conservative MPs have so far defied Mr Johnson’s calls to “move on” from the Cummings saga.
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In a bid to “move on” from the continuing row over his chief aide Dominic Cummings, the Prime Minister declined to answer questions on the issue at the daily briefing in Downing Street on Thursday
Mr Cummings is accused of breaking lockdown rules by travelling from London to County Durham, but he has denied any wrongdoing and has received the full backing of Boris Johnson.
Cummings travelled from London to the northern English city of Durham in March with his four-year-old son and his wife, who was sick at the time, to be close to relatives.
Durham Constabulary said on Thursday Mr Cummings may have committed “a minor breach” of coronavirus lockdown rules when he drove the 50-mile round trip to Barnard Castle, but added it did not intend to take “retrospective action”.
Later on Thursday, Mr Johnson avoided answering questions about Mr Cummings and stepped in when questions were asked of his chief medical and scientific advisers, Professor Chris Whitty and Sir Patrick Vallance respectively, to stop them “being dragged into a political argument”.