Boris Johnson resists calls to sack adviser for coronavirus lockdown breach

Dominic Cummings masterminded the 2016 campaign to leave the European Union during the Brexit referendum. (AP file photo)
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Updated 23 May 2020

Boris Johnson resists calls to sack adviser for coronavirus lockdown breach

  • Dominic Cummings masterminded the 2016 campaign to leave the EU during the Brexit referendum

LONDON: British Prime Minister Boris Johnson resisted calls on Saturday from opposition parties to sack adviser Dominic Cummings after he traveled 400 kilometers while his wife showed COVID-19 symptoms so that their son could be looked after by his family.
Cummings, who masterminded the 2016 campaign to leave the European Union during the Brexit referendum, traveled to Durham in northern England in late March, when a strict lockdown was already in place.
Johnson’s office said his adviser made the journey to ensure his young son could be properly cared for as his wife was ill with COVID-19 and there was a “high likelihood” that Cummings would himself become unwell.
“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,” a Downing Street spokesman said.
“His actions were in line with coronavirus guidelines,” the spokesman said. “Mr. Cummings believes he behaved reasonably and legally.”
One of Johnson’s most senior ministers, Michael Gove, said of the situation: “Caring for your wife and child is not a crime.”
But opposition parties called for Johnson to sack Cummings.
“Dominic Cummings should have done the right thing, he should have resigned but now that he hasn’t, Boris Johnson must show leadership and he must remove him from office immediately,” the Scottish National Party’s parliamentary leader, Ian Blackford, said.
The Labour Party said there should not be one rule for politicians and another rule for the British people. The Liberal Democrats said that if Cummings broke the guidelines, he should resign.
British guidelines say people should stay at home and refrain from visiting family members unless they need essential items such as food or medication.
Other prominent figures have resigned after having broken lockdown rules.
Epidemiologist Neil Ferguson quit as a member of the UK government’s scientific advisory group after was visited at home by his girlfriend. Scotland’s chief medical officer, Catherine Calderwood, also stepped down after she was caught making two trips to her second home.


“We were all outraged,” says Arab owner of store at center of US protest firestorm

Updated 31 May 2020

“We were all outraged,” says Arab owner of store at center of US protest firestorm

  • Troops can go in ’very quickly,’ Trump says

CHICAGO: The firestorm of protest, arson and looting that has consumed the US for five days began at the counter of an Arab American grocery store.

Staff working for Mahmoud Abumayyaleh, the owner of Cup Foods, called Minneapolis police after George Floyd, 46, twice tried to use a counterfeit $20 bill to make a purchase.

Officers who arrested Floyd held him to the ground with a knee on his neck, as he pleaded that he could not breathe. He lost consciousness and died later in hospital. One officer has been charged with third-degree murder and further charges are expected.

“What took place outside … was not in our hands,” Abumayyaleh told US TV. “The murder and execution was something done by the police, and it was an abuse of power. The police brutality needs to stop.”

Abumayyaleh said he knew Floyd as a customer, and as someone who was always pleasant. He did not find out until the following morning that the man had died. “We were all outraged,” he said, and Floyd “may not have even known that the bill was counterfeit.”

The store owner and his sons, Samir, Adam and Mahmoud, have gone into hiding in the face of a wave of threats against them on social media. They took down their store’s Facebook page and its landline phone has been disconnected.

Minneapolis has more than 50 Arab- and Muslim-owned stores mostly north of where the incident occurred, all operating under statewide COVID-19 restrictions. Arab store owners said they feared speaking out publicly about the incident.

An unidentified man who answered the phone at one Arab-owned store told Arab News that both the killing of Floyd and vandalism against businesses “is wrong.”

Since Floyd died last Tuesday, protesters have vandalized, looted and burned down more than 200 stores in Minneapolis. On Friday and Saturday, the violence spread to New York, Detroit, Chicago, St. Louis, Houston, Atlanta and Charlotte North Carolina.

In Minnesota, protesters maintained a daily vigil in front of the Cup Foods store at 3759 Chicago Avenue, painting walls and the street with murals and graffiti in memory of Floyd. After four nights of confrontations in the city, Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz activated the state’s national guard on Saturday for the first time since the Second World War.

US President Donald Trump said troops could be deployed if local authorities requested their help. “We could have our military there very quickly,” he said.