In Brief

MPs caught parroting party lines in reaction to Dominic Cummings scandal

Identical Tory tweets branded ‘haplessly amateur’

MPs from both sides of the political divide have been caught parroting similarly phrased statements as the major parties rolled out their reactions to the Dominic Cummings scandal.

Four Conservative MPs used identical wording as they told their constituents: “rest assured I’ve conveyed the strength of local feeling to relevant colleagues.”

The tweets were sent in reply to people who had criticised Boris Johnson’s top aide Dominic Cummings for violating the coronavirus lockdown to travel 260 miles from his London home to his parents’ property in Durham.

The identical tweets, posted within 70 minutes of each other, prompted “suspicion that they had received the same instruction from the party to make the statement”, The Times says.

Tim Farron, the MP for Westmorland & Lonsdale and former Liberal Democrat leader, called the carbon-copy phrasing “hapless amateurism”.

Labour MPs were also caught using “identikit” language on social media, deploying variations of the phrase “there’s one rule for Dominic Cummings and another for everyone else”.

Both parties’ copycat replies came at the end of a damaging long weekend for the Conservatives, during which ministers rushed to defend Cummings before all the information about his violations had been revealed by the press.

“The sight this weekend of elected ministers rushing to the defence of an unelected official was humiliating,” says The Guardian’s columnist Martin Kettle, “not just for them but for British politics.”

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