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Tory MP takes swipe at Dominic Cummings with Barnard Castle eye test chart

Dehenna Davison’s constituency of Bishop Auckland includes the famous County Durham landmark

Rory Sullivan
Thursday 27 May 2021 18:51 BST
A screen grab from Parliament TV shows Conservative MP Dehenna Davison with a Barnard Castle eye test chart in the background.
A screen grab from Parliament TV shows Conservative MP Dehenna Davison with a Barnard Castle eye test chart in the background. (PA)

A Tory MP has made a quiet dig at Dominic Cummings by appearing in the Commons via videolink with a Barnard Castle eye test chart placed on the wall behind her.

Dehenna Davison’s poster alludes to the controversial trip the prime minister’s former senior aide made to the County Durham landmark during the first national lockdown.

Seen by many as an egregious breach of lockdown rules, Mr Cummings defended the trip, saying he drove there “to test his eyesight” before embarking on a longer drive back to London.

Ms Davison’s swipe at him comes the day after he lambasted the government’s handling of the pandemic.

Testifying before the joint health and science Commons committees, the maverick political strategist denounced Boris Johnson as “unfit” to be prime minister and said Matt Hancock should have been fired for “at least 15 to 20 things”.

In response to such criticisms, Conservative MPs attempted to rush to the government’s aid, with Ms Davison, whose Bishop Auckland seat contains Barnard Castle, offering the most subtle retort.

When she asked a junior defence minister a question about veterans on Thursday morning, sharp-eyed observers noticed the eye-testing chart which spelled out “Barnard Castle” behind her.

Some of her Conservative peers launched more overt attacks on the prime minister’s former right-hand man.

Wellingborough Tory MP Peter Bone called him an “unelected Spad who broke Covid regulations” and “wasn’t fit to be in No 10”, while Cherilyn Mackrory MP rubbished his testimony, calling it “unsubstantiated Westminster gossip”.

As well as slamming the government’s Covid-19 record, Mr Cummings attempted to defend himself on Wednesday against the charge that he broke lockdown regulations last year.

He told MPs that his decision to move his family from London to County Durham was taken for security reasons, after death threats were made against them.

However, he maintained his original story about his Barnard Castle visit.  “If I was gonna make up the story I’d have come up with a hell of a lot better story than that one, right?” he said.

Mr Cummings did apologise for the episode though, admitting that “the whole thing was a complete disaster” which had “undermined” the public’s confidence in the government’s Covid-19 regulations.

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