A strong experienced voice for North Wiltshire
I offer long-standing experience and a track record as a successful, hard-working and caring representative of North Wiltshire in Parliament.
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Monday 25 May 2020 Latest News

Over the weekend I was one of the Conservative MPs who called for Mr Cummings’s resignation or sacking. Of the 1000 or so emails I received, nearly all spoke of their outrage at what Mr Cummings had done; at the contrast with ‘ordinary people’ who were religiously observing Lockdown; of the tragedies and misery that many of them had had to endure as a result. I could feel the very real frustration and anger that Mr Cummings might be about to ‘get away with it.’ I had - and have to this day - every sympathy with those views; and as a representative MP made sure that the Chief Whip, Chairman of the Party and Prime Minister were well aware of them.

I then watched Mr Cummings’ extraordinary press conference in the Rose Garden of No 10 (why was he granted that rare privilege?), and I did, to a degree, develop some sympathy for him in his plight. His wife was showings signs of Covid, as were many of his co-workers in No 10, including the Prime Minister. His house had been under siege from protestors and journalists, and he was concerned that there would be no-one to look after his four-year-old child in the event that both parents went down with the virus.  I do have some sympathy with his concerns, and the way he expressed them in the Press Conference. He foresaw a potential catastrophe for his family, and he acted as he thought best.

I am also concerned by what has become a media circus - even a witch hunt - which has been deeply unattractive and may well be politically motivated. It does feel a bit like trial by the mob. I am conscious of Mr Cummings’ extraordinary (if sometimes controversial) capabilities as an adviser, his central role in Brexit (which I supported), and in the December 2019 General Election. His departure would be a sad loss for the PM, for the Government and, in reality, for the Nation as a whole at this very difficult time in our history.

Nonetheless, I do still have significant reservations about Mr Cummings’ conclusion that driving to his parents’ house near Durham was the best solution to his personal crisis, knowing as he must have done that this was, at very least, close to  breaching the Lockdown regulations which he himself had helped draft. A great many people who have written to me describe far more harrowing circumstances, despite which they kept strictly to the Lockdown rules. There are a number of other elements of his statement which make me feel uneasy. I am less than convinced, for example, about his reasoning for his drive to Castle Barnard, and the stop in the woods on the way back.

I am therefore reluctant to modify the view which I expressed in emails and on my website over the weekend calling for his resignation. I remain unhappy with his actions, which I do believe breached the spirit if not the letter of the lockdown rules. And I do still believe that if everyone acted as he did, those rules would become entirely unenforceable.

It may well have been poor judgement rather than anything worse. I think he was rather foolish in his decisions, perhaps partly explained by the huge strain he was under in his job and his private life at the time.

But over the next few difficult weeks and months we need the full confidence of the people if they are to agree to the steps which will be necessary to safeguard both their lives and for their livelihoods. And for that to happen they have to have full confidence in the Government which is asking them to do it. Mr Cummings’ questionable behaviour has undermined that trust. It can only be rebuilt if he now departs the scene.

Sunday 24 May 2020 Latest News

None of us yet know the details of what Mr Cummings did, nor why. It may be that more will emerge in the coming days to justify (or to condemn) his behaviour.

But for now I believe that at a time when thanks to his advice we are all going through  Lockdown, our personal circumstances very often being a great deal worse than his, it most certainly does look like a double standard to apparently ignore his own advice.

That is without question the perception throughout the

Thursday 21 May 2020 Weekly Column

Just as the imposition of the Lockdown caused all kinds of controversies, so will its lifting. Should primary schools (partly) reopen on 1 June? What about pre-school care which is so essential to so many working couples? What about secondary schools and colleges? If you can work from home, then do so (and good to see local company Avon Rubber reporting record productivity with their office staff all working from home.) If you cannot work from home (construction, manufacturing), then go to

Thursday 14 May 2020 Latest News

As the Prime Minster starts to lay out some very baby steps towards ending Lockdown, we are all quite naturally beginning to turn our thinking towards what it will all look like post-Covid. When will we go back to work/school, when can we visit our relatives, when can we go the pub for a pint, or the restaurant for a decent (English) steak? All of those are, of course, perfectly reasonable questions, which will become increasingly clear as the weeks wear on.

Yet without diminishing

Thursday 7 May 2020 Weekly Column

There is a very powerful argument that when we as a Nation face a challenge like Covid-19, we must pull together as one. That is pretty much what happened under the Government of National Unity during the War. We have a common enemy - this dreadful disease which has claimed so many lives - and we must unite in defeating it; and to a pretty good degree that is exactly what we have been doing. Most of us are obeying the Social Distancing rules; most of us accept that everything the Government


My latest book 'Full English Brexit' is now available online at jamesgray.org/full-english-brexit

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