Boris Johnson declines to answer Durham MP over Dominic Cummings

The Prime Minister has declined to address claims one of his closest advisers ‘short changed’ tax payers in County Durham by £50,000.

Wednesday, 4th November 2020, 2:55 pm
Updated Wednesday, 4th November 2020, 2:55 pm
Dominic Cummings, chief adviser to Prime Minister Boris Johnson, arrives in Downing Street on November 04, 2020 in London, England (Photo by Leon Neal/Getty Images)

Dominic Cummings, one of the government’s chief political strategists and a key figure in the 2016 Brexit referendum campaign, has been the subject of controversy.

As well as allegations he broke coronavirus restrictions to travel to Durham in the UK’s first COVID lockdown, questions have also been raised about building rules and council tax.

The issues were aired in Parliament by city MP Mary Foy, who demanded answers at Prime Minister’s Questions in the House of Commons on November 4.

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She said: “In my short time as an MP for the City of Durham, Dominic Cummings has fatally undermined public health messaging, had historic planning violations exposed and has short changed us with an unpaid council tax bill of up to £50,000.

“Will the PM condemn this continued flouting of the rules, or does he have a blind spot even a trip to Barnard Castle can’t fix?”

Cummings’s trip to his family’s home just outside Durham City, which included a separate visit to Barnard Castle, in the south of the county, has been condemned by some who claimed it would make the wider public less likely to comply with coronavirus restrictions.

While in Durham the political campaigner stayed in a building on his father’s farm, which was later found to have breached planning regulations, although by the time this was discovered the time limit for enforcement had passed.

The Valuation Office Agency (VOA), which assesses properties for council tax, also later declined to issue a backdated bill taking this into account, which it has been estimated could be worth up to £50,000.

But Prime Minister Boris Johnson simply replied to Ms Foy: “I think what has possibly undermined people’s confidence and understanding in what the government is trying to do is constant political point scoring and attempts to obscure what we’re trying to do by the Labour Party .

“I think the best thing is to advise her constituents what to do to follow the guidance, to get the virus down and to do it together.”

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