Retired teacher holds Dominic Cummings' fate in his hands

How retired chemistry teacher holds Dominic Cummings’ fate in his hands after spotting him 30 MILES from Durham family home – as Gavin Williamson says PM’s aide has ‘categorically’ denied breaking lockdown rules

  • Robin Lees and his walk in Barnard’s Castle on April 12 could prove pivotal in forcing the Prime Minister’s hand 
  • The Durham local alleges he saw someone who ‘looked like’ Mr Cummings at the Teesdale town 30 miles away from family farm
  • If aide confirmed as breaking lockdown would dramatically increase political  pressure to sack him 

He is the most powerful unelected figure in the Government, but Dominic Cummings’ future as Boris Johnson’s indispensable Svengali could rest in the hands of a retired chemistry teacher. 

Robin Lees and his walk in Barnard Castle on April 12 could prove pivotal in forcing the Prime Minister’s hand despite his astonishing defence of his friend, adviser and enforcer last night.

The Durham local alleges he saw someone who ‘looked like’ Mr Cummings at the Teesdale town 30 miles from Durham that day, and the ‘distinctive’ number plate he took down corresponds to Mr Cummings’ car.

Mr Cummings, 47, admits he took his wife Mary Wakefield and four-year-old son 260 miles north to his family’s farm from London  at the end of March, when she was suffering from coronavirus-symptoms.

Reasons given have ranged from childcare fears to the death of his uncle, but Mr Johnson said last night he acted with ‘integrity’ and ‘as any father would’.

But he and Downing Street have remained silent over an alleged trip out during his northern isolation for a walk in the picturesque village on April 12 – his wife’s 45th birthday.  

Mr Cummings has flatly denied any second trip north in April, despite the claim he was strolling the secluded bluebell  glades at Houghall in Country Durham on April 19 – after he had been seen back at work in London.  

Critics say the first, admitted trip north, during which the police spoke to Mr Cummings’ father, broke the lockdown, something Downing Street disputes. 

The trip to Barnard Castle and the second trip north later in April – when none of the family were ill – would both appear to be clear breaches of the rules being followed by millions of Britons.  

Were they to be irrefutably proven, even still friendly – or at least silent – Tories may have no option but to demand his head, for lying to the Prime Minister if nothing else.

Education Secretary Gavin Williamson was sent out to bat for the Government and Mr Cummings today. 

His comments in interviews today left wriggle room for Mr Johnson to axe him if more revelations come to light that disprove his version of events.

Mr Williamson told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme it was his ‘understanding’ that ‘Dominic Cummings made absolutely clear there was only one trip to Durham’.

‘I have not had a conversation with Dominic Cummings. The Prime Minister had an extensive discussion with Dominic Cummings yesterday – he did a press conference yesterday,’ he added.

‘He made it absolutely clear at the press conference that Dominic Cummings had given him the reassurance that no rules or no laws had been broken but I don’t have any more details than that.’

Pressed on whether he knew if Mr Cummings left the house during his isolation in Durham, Mr Williamson said: ‘Dominic Cummings has, as the Prime Minister said yesterday, has at every stage, Dominic Cummings operated within the rules.

‘He abided by the rules, he abided by the law and that’s what the Prime Minister said yesterday.’ 

Mr Cummings (pictured today in London) has flatly denied any second trip north in April, when none of his family were ill

Robin Lees says he saw someone who ‘looked like’ Mr Cummings here in Barnard Castle on April 12, and the ‘distinctive’ number plate he took down corresponds to Mr Cummings’ car

 Mr Cummings has flatly denied any second trip north in April, despite the claim he was strolling the secluded bluebell glades at Houghall (pictured) in Country Durham on April 19

Mr Williamson told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme it was his ‘understanding’ that ‘Dominic Cummings made absolutely clear there was only one trip to Durham’.

Never before has an unelected Government adviser been so powerful – and divisive.

The Prime Minister’s right-hand man and self-proclaimed architect of Brexit, Dominic Cummings, has already been depicted in a TV film by Benedict Cumberbatch and was the subject of a BBC documentary this year.

He has seemed to revel in his reputation as the ‘dark puppeteer’ – complete with his scruffy attire, abrupt tone and disdain for the Press. But to many, revelations that he may have breached lockdown rules are a controversial step too far. Here the Mail analyses the allegations against him.

March 23:

The day Britain was placed into lockdown. Boris Johnson told Britons they should only leave home for one of four reasons: To shop for essential items, to exercise once a day, to travel to and from work where it was ‘absolutely necessary’ or to fulfil medical or care needs.

Those who had any symptoms of coronavirus were told to stay at home for at least seven days. Other members of that household were told they must self-isolate for 14 days.

The Government unveiled its message ‘Stay home. Protect the NHS. Save lives’ – which would have been drafted with the help of Mr Cummings.

March 27:

March 27: Dominic Cummings is pictured running out of Downing Street on the day Mr Johnson and Health Secretary Matt Hancock test positive for coronavirus

Mr Johnson and Health Secretary Matt Hancock test positive for coronavirus, while chief medical officer Chris Whitty says he has symptoms of the disease and is self-isolating.

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps has told the BBC he believes Mr Cummings was last seen in Downing Street on the same day and speculates he may have travelled either on the 27th or 28th.

Such a move would have been hugely at odds with Government guidance as Mr Cummings could have looked after their young child in London while his wife recuperated.

This was also the day Mr Cummings was seen sprinting out of Downing Street. 

March 30:

Downing Street confirms Mr Cummings is suffering from coronavirus symptoms and is self-isolating.  

March 31:

Parents’ home: The home of Cummings’s parents in Durham, 260 miles away, which he visited during lockdown

Asked about Mr Cummings’s health, the Prime Minister’s official spokesman tells reporters: ‘He’s in touch with No10 but he is at home, he is self-isolating, he has some symptoms.’

The same day Durham police are ‘made aware of reports that an individual had travelled from London to Durham and was present at an address in the city’.

The force says officers ‘made contact with the owners of that address who confirmed that the individual in question was present and was self-isolating in part of the house’.

‘In line with national policing guidance, officers explained to the family the arrangements around self-isolation guidelines and reiterated the appropriate advice around essential travel.’

Mr Cummings has insisted the Durham trip was necessary for the well-being of his son. The boy would likely have contracted a mild version of the illness, if at all, by staying with his parents.

In contrast, Mr Cummings’ elderly parents were at a much higher risk of contracting a severe and potentially fatal form of Covid-19 – making his actions appear all the more reckless. Family friends have pointed out that his wife, Mary Wakefield, has a brother, Jack, who lives in London with his own young son. She also has a half-brother, Max, who lives in the capital.

It has also been suggested it may have been more sensible for a family member to travel from Durham south to help the Cummings.

April 5:

At around 5.45pm, an unnamed neighbour spotted him in his parents’ garden with his son – with Abba’s Dancing Queen being played in the background.

The neighbour said: ‘I got the shock of my life. I was really annoyed. I thought ‘It’s OK for you to drive all the way up to Durham and escape from London’. It’s one rule for Dominic Cummings and one rule for the rest of us.’

In response to questions last week, No10 said Mr Cummings travelled to Durham as his sister and nieces had volunteered to look after his four-year-old son.

At the weekend deputy chief medical officer Dr Jenny Harries said travelling during lockdown was permissible if ‘there was an extreme risk to life’ with a ‘safeguarding clause’ to prevent vulnerable people being stuck at home with no support. She added that a small child could be considered vulnerable.

But rather than Mr Cummings’ son staying with other family members, he was in fact with his parents in a farmhouse adjoining the main property. Food was left by Mr Cummings’ sister at the door.

The trip would appear to fly in the face of strict lockdown rules as both parents were showing symptoms and could have taken advantage of help elsewhere in London. 

March 30 to April 6:

The period for which Mr Cummings’ wife Mary Wakefield describes the family’s battle with coronavirus, in the April 25 issue of the Spectator.

She makes no mention of the trip to Durham and describes the challenges of caring for their son while suffering the symptoms of Covid-19, as well as the apparent severity of her husband’s illness.

‘Day in, day out for ten days he lay doggo with a high fever and spasms that made the muscles lump and twitch in his legs. He could breathe, but only in a limited, shallow way,’ she wrote.

‘After a week, we reached peak corona uncertainty. Day six is a turning point, I was told: that’s when you either get better or head for ICU.

‘But was Dom fighting off the bug or was he heading for a ventilator? Who knew? I sat on his bed staring at his chest, trying to count his breaths per minute.

‘The little oxygen reader we’d bought on Amazon indicated that he should be in hospital, but his lips weren’t blue and he could talk in full sentences, such as: “Please stop staring at my chest, sweetheart.”’

April 7:  

Dominic Cummings continued absence from Downing Street is noticed. Downing Street said at the time that he was working but not from Number 10 and insisted Number 10 is ‘fully operational’.

 

April 10:

Number 10 is again contacted for comment regarding Mr Cummings’ trip by the Guardian. Instead of defending the journey, officials decline to comment.

April 12:

London-to-Durham: The 260-mile journey that Cummings made to reach the home of his parents in Durham

On April 12, his wife’s birthday, Mr Cummings and his family were allegedly spotted 30 miles from Durham in the town of Barnard Castle. Retired chemistry teacher Robin Lees, 70, said he was ‘gobsmacked’. 

Although Mr Cummings could have theoretically completed a 14-day isolation period to recover from symptoms, the Government guidance were still clear: Stay at home and avoid unnecessary travel. 

Mr Lees told Sky: ‘They looked as if they’d been for a walk by the river. It didn’t seem right because I assumed he would be in London. You don’t take the virus from one part of the country to another.’

Sky News yesterday confirmed the car number plate as belonging to Mr Cummings.

April 14:

Mr Cummings returns to work for the first time since news he was suffering from coronavirus emerged.

Questions are raised about his adherence to social distancing advice as he is photographed walking in Downing Street with fellow aide Cleo Watson.

April 19:

A witness claimed to have seen Mr Cummings at Houghall Woods, a beauty spot near his parents’ home in Durham, on April 19.

He was overheard remarking that the bluebells are ‘lovely.’ The witness said: ‘We were shocked and surprised to see him because the last time we did was earlier in the week in Downing Street.

‘We thought ‘He’s not supposed to be here during lockdown’. We thought ‘What double standards, one rule for him as a senior adviser to the Prime Minister, another for the rest of us.’ When asked yesterday whether he had been to Durham a second time in April, Mr Cummings said: ‘No I did not’. 

The claim is reported by the Observer and Sunday Mirror on May 24. 

April 25: 

Like all good journalists, Mary Wakefield did not miss an opportunity to turn personal difficulty into tantalising copy. As commissioning editor of political magazine The Spectator, the baronet’s daughter described her and her husband’s battle with coronavirus for a late-April edition.

She said she initially contracted symptoms before Mr Cummings rushed home and ‘collapsed.’ She explained: ‘I felt breathless, sometimes achy, but Dom couldn’t get out of bed. Day in, day out for ten days he lay doggo with a high fever and spasms that made the muscles lump and twitch in his legs. He could breathe, but only in a limited, shallow way.’

Then, in a conclusion which contradicts the sightings in Durham, she said the family ’emerged from quarantine into the almost comical uncertainty of London lockdown.’

May 10: 

Rumours begin to circulate on social media that Mr Cummings had again been seen in the Durham area. A police source yesterday told the Telegraph officers contacted Mr Cummings’ father around this time but were assured the sightings were not true. 

May 13:

The Government lifts the restriction on how far people can drive to reach the countryside and take exercise, but visits and overnight stays to second homes remain prohibited.

May 22:

News breaks in the Mirror and the Guardian of Mr Cummings’ trip to Durham.

While there is no comment from Downing Street, close friends of Mr Cummings say: ‘He isn’t remotely bothered by this story, it’s more fake news from the Guardian. There is zero chance of him resigning.’

May 23:

Downing Street appears to be standing by the PM’s chief aide, saying in a statement: ‘Owing to his wife being infected with suspected coronavirus and the high likelihood that he would himself become unwell, it was essential for Dominic Cummings to ensure his young child could be properly cared for.

‘At no stage was he or his family spoken to by the police about this matter, as is being reported.’

Speaking to reporters outside his home, Mr Cummings says: ‘I behaved reasonably and legally.’

When a reporter suggests his actions did not look good, he replies: ‘Who cares about good looks? It’s a question of doing the right thing. It’s not about what you guys think.’

Later at the daily Downing Street briefing, Mr Shapps says Mr Cummings has the PM’s ‘full support’ and that Mr Johnson ‘knew that he was unwell and that he was in lockdown’.

Mr Shapps says it had always been permissible for families to travel to be closer to relatives as long as they ‘go to that location and stay in that location’.

Meanwhile, the deputy chief medical officer for England, Jenny Harries, says travelling during lockdown was permissible if ‘there was an extreme risk to life’, with a ‘safeguarding clause’ attached to all advice to prevent vulnerable people being stuck at home with no support.

In a new statement released later in the evening, Durham police say officers were made aware on March 31 that Mr Cummings was present at an address in the city.

The force adds that the following morning an officer spoke with Mr Cummings’ father at his own request, and he confirmed his son had travelled with his family to the North East and was ‘self-isolating in part of the property’.

It says the force ‘deemed that no further action was required. However, the officer did provide advice in relation to security issues’.

In another evening statement, a No 10 spokeswoman accuses the Mirror and Guardian of writing ‘inaccurate’ stories about Mr Cummings, including claims that he had returned to Durham after going back to work in Downing Street on April 14.

‘We will not waste our time answering a stream of false allegations about Mr Cummings from campaigning newspapers,’ the spokeswoman says.

May 24:

Asked by a journalist outside his home whether he had returned to Durham in April, Mr Cummings says: ‘No, I did not.’

A host of Tory MPs call for him to resign or for Mr Johnson to sack him.

But the PM, who fronts the daily Downing Street briefing, firmly backs Mr Cummings, saying his aide acted in the best interests of his child, in a way ‘any parent would frankly understand’.

He insists Mr Cummings ‘acted responsibly, legally and with integrity’.

But the PM’s comments fail to quell anger among Tory MPs, opposition parties, scientists and even bishops – one of whom accuses Mr Johnson of treating the public ‘as mugs’.

Durham councillor Amanda Hopgood says she has written to Durham Constabulary’s Chief Constable Jo Farrell after being made aware of a number of sightings of Mr Cummings in the area in April and May.

Mr Cummings’ parents Morag and Robert defend him in an interview with the New Statesman, with his mother saying the family had been grieving after her brother – Lord Justice Laws – died on April 5 after contracting Covid-19 while ill in hospital, and his father saying he was ‘disgusted’ at the way the press had treated his son during the coverage.

May 25:

Education Secretary Gavin Williamson adds his support for Mr Cummings, saying he should not resign ‘because he has made it clear that he’s broken no rules and he’s broken no laws’.

Gloucestershire’s independent police and crime commissioner Martin Surl says Mr Cummings’ actions make a ‘mockery’ of police enforcement earlier in the lockdown ‘when the message was very, very clear: stay at home’.

Tory MP David Warburton says his own father died alone as a result of the coronavirus lockdown, and that the Cummings story gives an impression of ‘double standards’.

Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon says she fears Mr Johnson is ‘putting his political interest ahead of the public interest’ and adds that she hopes he will ‘reflect further’ on the matter. 

Durham’s Police and Crime Commissioner today urges the local chief constable to launch a formal investigation into Dominic Cummings’ lockdown visit to the city Acting PCC Steve White writes to Jo Farrell to ask her to probe the facts around Mr Cummings’ trip and to determine wether there was ‘any potential breach of the law or regulations in this matter’.

Mr White says there was a ‘plethora of additional information circulating in the public domain which deserves appropriate examination’. If the chief constable agrees to look into the matter it raises the prospect of the police examining ANPR or phone data to determine the aide’s movements.

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DOMINIC LAWSON: Clean undies, candles… An unmissable guide to life

DOMINIC LAWSON: My unmissable guide to life post lockdown

As Britons prepare for the end of lockdown, after months of isolation at home, I thought it might be helpful to offer a guide to various terms which have fallen into disuse and which some of you might have forgotten ever existed. 

Tie: Traditionally, an item of clothing by which the management class distinguished themselves from the rest of the workforce. More practically, a way of telling the wearer if he has gained weight recently, indicated by asphyxiation when attempting to hold it in place with the top shirt button. 

Restaurant: A place where people paid five times what they normally would for wine, even though they had no idea what it would taste like, unlike the favourite plonk happily consumed at home. 

Birthday cake candles: A means by which those of increasing agedness demonstrate they still have a bit of puff left, by blowing them out without collapsing. (Warning: Continued concern about Covid-19 transmission may mean that two cakes are required — one, without candles, to be eaten by guests; the other, with candles, for the blowing ceremony before being disposed of in a secure manner.) 

Glastonbury Festival: With luck, you will not need to know about this, ever again. But, if we must: the world’s biggest rubbish tip

Clock: Something that people looked at to check whether they had enough time left for another slice of toast before rushing off to work. 

Work: An unfortunate necessity before the Government paid us to do nothing. Time: How long have you got? 

Dinner parties: A social ritual by which the hosts attempt to demoralise their guests by producing a series of dishes of improbable cost and complexity. The guests secretly hope the event will be dreadful, thus raising their own self-esteem. (The collapsed soufflé is a particular favourite in this respect and also highly symbolic — of the hosts’ marital relationship, or so the guests wish.) 

The Premier League: A way in which relatively less well-off English people pass a significant portion of their income to multi-millionaire footballers from other nations. Largely financed by sponsorship from gambling companies, another means by which the less well-off pass their wages (or benefits) to offshore-based business entities. 

Birthday cake candles: A means by which those of increasing agedness demonstrate they still have a bit of puff left, by blowing them out without collapsing

Dinner parties: A social ritual by which the hosts attempt to demoralise their guests by producing a series of dishes of improbable cost and complexity (file photo)

Extra-marital affairs: I have no idea what you are talking about. No, I mean that’s what one half of a married couple says to the other when this matter is raised. 

Diary: A small book in which future engagements are listed, according to date, sometimes more than one in the same month. I know: extraordinary, isn’t it? (See also: Calendars) 

Suit: A means by which men could avoid the impossibly difficult decision of which colour of trousers might go with which colour of jacket. (Trousers? Yes, it’s been a long time.) 

Underpants: Used to be clean at all times, in case the wearer is run over by a bus. This social precaution will now once again be necessary. 

Hairbrush: For those with curly hair, an instrument of torture. For those with thinning hair, a source of pathos and nostalgia. 

Pubs: Never as good as they were in the old days

Petrol stations: Somewhere people went to buy newspapers, food and drink without having to walk. Soon to be replaced by electric charging points which will take all day, and thereby save the planet by preventing us from driving anywhere else. At least, I think that’s what Sir David Attenborough says. 

Pubs: Never as good as they were in the old days.

Cinemas: Where people went to eat and drink continually for hours, as noisily as they knew how, in the belief that if you consumed calories in the dark, then you couldn’t put on weight. 

Handshakes: Originally a way of checking that the other man didn’t have a weapon up his sleeve and to demonstrate that you don’t. Apparently, now dangerous, even if the other chap isn’t armed. So you probably don’t need to know, anyway. 

Spitting in public: Was mandatory in the Premier League — see earlier entry. Also very popular in China. Hmmm… 

Trains: Moving dining rooms for the working man and woman. At night, also act as mobile bars with no formal closing time. 

Nail bars: A sort of Vietnamese employment agency, although others would say a money laundering operation for their cannabis farms (file photo)

Nail bars: A sort of Vietnamese employment agency, although others would say a money laundering operation for their cannabis farms. Don’t ask: ‘Why do you only take cash?’ 

Weather: Something that happens outside. And, when you do emerge, also a topic with which to inaugurate a conversation with a stranger. Or at least it used to be. 

Dentist: Usually from the Antipodes or South Africa. Recognisable by the customary greeting: ‘You should have come to see us sooner,’ followed by a grim little laugh. 

Glastonbury Festival: With luck, you will not need to know about this, ever again. But, if we must: the world’s biggest rubbish tip. 

Schools: Where your children are indoctrinated by people who think Greta Thunberg is right that we are all, imminently, doomed to mass extinction. 

Child therapist: Where you will need to send your darlings afterwards, because they are so terrified.

Dentist: Usually from the Antipodes or South Africa. Recognisable by the customary greeting: ‘You should have come to see us sooner,’ followed by a grim little laugh (file photo)

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Dominic Cummings' wife described how he 'collapsed and had spasms'

Dominic Cummings’ wife described how he ‘collapsed and had spasms’ during family’s coronavirus isolation – but failed to mention that they had broken lockdown to travel from London to Durham

  • Dominic Cummings’ wife Mary Wakefield wrote an account of coronavirus ordeal
  • She described how No10 chief ‘collapsed’ and had spasms as he was bedridden 
  • But she did not mention that family had relocated to Durham during isolation
  • Revealed their son nursed Mr Cummings despite claim they went for childcare  
  • Here’s how to help people impacted by Covid-19

Dominic Cummings’ wife gave a detailed account of the family’s coronavirus ordeal – but failed to mention that they had broken lockdown to travel from London to Durham.

Journalist Mary Wakefield revealed that No10 chief Mr Cummings, 48, spent 10 days bedridden after ‘collapsing’ and having ‘spasms’ with the disease at the end of March.

Despite claims that the couple travelled 260 miles so they could access childcare, the article Ms Wakefield wrote for the Spectator last month says he was nursed by their young son.

And it gave the strong sense that the family had remained in the capital, saying Mr Cummings had ‘rushed home’ when she first developed symptoms, and that they ’emerged from quarantine into the almost comical uncertainty of London lockdown’.

Mr Cummings with his wife Mary outside their London home last year, after he had begun working for Mr Johnson

March 23 Boris Johnson announces lockdown. 

March 27: On the same day the Prime Minister tests positive for coronavirus, his top aide is seen running across Downing Street to get home to his wife Mary Wakefield. 

She later wrote in The Spectator that Mr Cummings did ‘rush home’ to look after her when she developed symptoms. 

March 28 & 29: Mr Cummings develops symptoms of the disease over the weekend, Downing Street confirms, with Mrs Wakefield saying he felt ‘weird’. 

He reportedly collapsed before spending ten days bedridden with a high fever, spasms and breathlessness. 

March 31: The Government adviser was in Durham, according to the investigation, with police confirming they visited an individual who had travelled to the city from London to self-isolate.

April 5: Mr Cummings is allegedly spotted by a witness at the grounds of his parents’ home near Durham at 5.45pm with a child believed to be his son. The same evening Scotland’s chief medical officer Catherine Calderwood resigns for breaching lockdown rules for visiting her second home. 

April 14: The PM’s aide is photographed in Downing Street for the first time since recovering from coronavirus.

Boris Johnson was today warned he cannot stonewall demands to sack his right hand man for flouting lockdown rules by travelling to his parents’ Durham farm to self-isolate. 

He was spotted by a witness at the gate of the property, with Abba’s Dancing Queen playing loudly. 

The bombshell revelations sparked accusations of hypocrisy with Mr Cummings’ position branded ‘untenable’, and signs of disquiet among Tory MPs. 

Dorset police and crime commissioner Martyn Underhill warned this morning that the flagrant breach will be thrown in the face of officers as they tried to restrain sun-seeking visitors on what is expected to be a hot bank holiday weekend.   

In a defiant statement this morning, a No10 spokesman said he had not broken any guidelines with the 264-mile trip.

‘Owing to his wife being infected with suspected Coronavirus and the high likelihood that he would himself become unwell, it was essential for Dominic Cummings to ensure his young child could be properly cared for,’ the spokesman said. 

‘His sister and nieces had volunteered to help so he went to a house near to but separate from his extended family in case their help was needed. His sister shopped for the family and left everything outside. 

‘At no stage was he or his family spoken to by the police about this matter, as is being reported. His actions were in line with coronavirus guidelines. Mr Cummings believes he behaved reasonably and legally.’  

Allies pointed to a comment from deputy chief medical officer Jenny Harries on March 24, when she was asked what parents should do if both fall ill. ‘A small child is vulnerable. If adults cannot look after the child, that is an exceptional circumstance,’ Dr Harries said.  

Mr Cummings spend 14 days off work, twice the usual period of quarantine, sparking questions about his health. But No 10 throughout insisted he was ‘in contact’ with staff in Downing Street. 

Mr Cummings and Ms Wakefield married in 2011. Mary is a journalist for the Spectator and the daughter of Sir Humphry Tyrrell Wakefield, owner of Chillingham Castle and a friend of Prince Philip. 

In her account, Ms Wakefield said her husband ‘rushed home’ after she became ill. ‘But 24 hours later he said ”I feel weird”.’. 

‘Day in, day out for ten days he lay doggo with a high fever and spasms that made the muscles lump and twitch in his legs. He could breathe, but only in a limited, shallow way,’ she wrote.

‘After a week, we reached peak corona uncertainty. Day six is a turning point, I was told: that’s when you either get better or head for ICU. 

‘But was Dom fighting off the bug or was he heading for a ventilator? Who knew? I sat on his bed staring at his chest, trying to count his breaths per minute. 

‘The little oxygen reader we’d bought on Amazon indicated that he should be in hospital, but his lips weren’t blue and he could talk in full sentences, such as: ‘Please stop staring at my chest, sweetheart.’

Despite the suggestion that the couple had gone to Durham for childcare, Ms Wakefield said Ceddy, had ‘administered’ Ribena to Mr Cummings with the ‘grim insistence of a Broadmoor nurse’. 

‘This might be my only useful advice for other double-Covid parents or single mothers with pre-schoolers,’ she wrote. 

‘Get out the doctor’s kit and make it your child’s job to take your temperature. Any game that involves lying down is a good game.’ 

On the end of their ordeal, Ms Wakefield said they had emerged from quarantine into the ‘uncertainty of London lockdown’. 

‘After the uncertainty of the bug itself, we emerged from quarantine into the almost comical uncertainty of London lockdown. Everything and its opposite seems true. People are frightened and they’re calm; it’s spring and it’s not. Queueing’s a pain in the ass and the most fun you’ll have all day. 

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Piers Morgan brands Dominic Raab 'a disgrace' for wrong advice

Piers Morgan has branded Dominic Raab a ‘total disgrace’ for wrong advice on meeting parents from a distance amid the coronavirus lockdown.

The Good Morning Britain presenter slammed the First Secretary of State for telling the public that they could meet both parents from a distance, with the government later apologising and saying that only one parent could be met at a time.

‘When Dominic Raab said you could initially see one parent, he upgraded that on the Today programme to both parents with a two metre distance,’ Piers began.

‘The government has now clarified you can’t, you can only see one.

‘So Dominic Raab has been on the airwaves this morning, not Good Morning Britain because I would have asked him the follow-up question that would have got the answers…

‘Now the government are having to apologise and clarify Dominic Raab, who has just told tens of thousands of people to go and see their parents at the same time, now apparently, you can’t.

‘What a total disgrace. How many people will now be infected because they only heard him on the Today programme?’

He added: ‘Do they not understand how dangerous this is? How serious this is? It’s a total shambles.’

Mr Raab was asked on Radio 4’s Today Programme: ‘From Wednesday, you can meet one person from outside your household. Does that mean you can’t meet two relatives at the same time, for example, parents?’

He replied: ‘From Wednesday, people can go outside to parks and certain sports where you can keep social distancing at two metres, together, with others members from their own home.

‘If you are going to the park and you can stay two metres apart, you could meet up with other members of your household.’

Mr Raab was then asked again: ‘So, you cannot meet two parents at the same time?’

And he added: ‘You could if they are two metres apart.’

Government sources, however, said that Mr Raab had misspoken, and he meant to say that only members of the same household can all go to the park together.

Elsewhere on the programme, Piers called for Raab to ‘grow a pair’ and come on Good Morning Britain.

‘If you’re watching Dominic Raab, grow a pair, will you?,’ he demanded.

‘It’s not our fault that you send a bunch of mediocre junior ministers who couldn’t answer basic questions.’

‘Your job is to come on, and explain government policy to our viewers,’ he continued.

‘Or our viewers not as important as other people’s? ‘Why is it that Good Morning Britain viewers don’t deserve government attention this morning? in this massive health crisis affecting life and death.

‘It’s pathetic. Grow a pair and come on.’

Good Morning Britain airs weekdays at 6am on ITV.

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Dominic Raab: UK must 'double down' for EU trade deal by year's end

Dominic Raab insists the UK must ‘double down’ on Brexit talks and secure a free trade deal with Brussels by the end of the year to give British business a ‘shot in the arm’ after the economic shock of coronavirus

  • Dominic Raab today said UK must stick to the current timetable for talks with EU 
  • He said securing deal with Brussels by the end of the year would boost business
  • But the government is under growing pressure to extend Brexit transition period 
  • Here’s how to help people impacted by Covid-19

The UK must ‘double down’ on Brexit talks and secure a comprehensive trade deal with the EU by the end of the year to give businesses a vital post-coronavirus boost, Dominic Raab insisted today.

Standing in for Boris Johnson at Prime Minister’s Questions the Foreign Secretary said striking a deal on the future relationship between Britain and the bloc would give firms a ‘shot in the arm’. 

His comments, which echo those given by other ministers in recent days, came as political pressure continues to grow on the government to seek an extension to the Brexit transition period because of the coronavirus crisis. 

The ‘standstill’ transition period is due to expire on December 31 this year and was designed to allow the two sides to agree a trade deal. 

Critics including opposition MPs believe that because of the deep recession that is expected to follow the coronavirus economic shutdown it should be extended into 2021 to avoid two potential shocks in quick succession.

But speaking in the Commons this afternoon Mr Raab insisted the UK’s position is ‘unchanged’ and the transition ceases at the end of the year.

‘There’s no intention of changing that and actually what we should do now given the uncertainty, given the problems and challenges coronavirus has highlighted for us, but also for our European friends… is to focus on removing any additional uncertainty, doing a deal by the end of the year and allowing both the UK and the European Union and all of its member states to bounce back as we come through the coronavirus’, he said. 

Standing in for Boris Johnson at Prime Minister’s Questions the Foreign Secretary said striking a deal on the future relationship between Britain and the bloc would give firms a ‘shot in the arm’

He was responding to SNP Westminster leader Ian Blackford, who insisted an extension would show common sense as he urged Mr Raab to ‘face down the hardliners’ in the Conservative Party

He was responding to SNP Westminster leader Ian Blackford, who insisted an extension would show common sense as he urged Mr Raab to ‘face down the hardliners’ in the Conservative Party and allow everyone to ‘get on with the job’ of tackling the coronavirus pandemic.

Mr Blackford added: ‘What we should be doing is removing uncertainty and putting a stop to these talks, we should be making sure we protect our businesses. The failure by the First Secretary to rule out a no-deal Brexit should alarm us all.’

Mr Blackford highlighted warnings about damage to the global economy this year, adding: ‘Refusing to admit the inevitability of an extension isn’t a tough or a clever negotiating tactic, it’s a reckless and a foolish gamble.

‘Will the Secretary of State embrace common sense and recognise the need for a Brexit extension?

‘Show some leadership, face down the hardliners in the Tory party, extend the Brexit transition and let us all get on with the job of tackling this health crisis together.’

Mr Raab replied: ‘If his desire is to avoid more uncertainty then the right thing for us to do is to double down, get a deal by the end of this year.

‘If his desire is to dig ourselves out of the economic challenges we, the European Union and the world face, then the answer isn’t to engage in protectionism but to do this deal, give a shot in the arm to businesses on both sides of the Channel, and that is what we’re absolutely, wholeheartedly focused on doing.’

 

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