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UK govt faces fury over claims England’s chief nurse was DROPPED from Covid-19 briefing for refusing to back PM adviser Cummings

UK govt faces fury over claims England’s chief nurse was DROPPED from Covid-19 briefing for refusing to back PM adviser Cummings

Allegations that England’s chief nurse was stood down from a Downing Street Covid-19 daily briefing after refusing to publicly back PM Boris Johnson’s top aide Dominic Cummings have provoked outrage.

Ruth May was scheduled to appear alongside UK Health Secretary Matt Hancock on June 1 to update the public on progress being made in tackling the coronavirus pandemic. However, according to senior NHS sources, England’s top nurse was dropped just hours before the briefing.

May is said to have told a No. 10 special adviser that she would not “play along” and back Cummings if asked about his violation of Covid-19 lockdown rules, the Independent reports.

Suggestions that England’s chief nurse could have ostensibly been censored from publicly voicing her opinions on Cummings’ behavior by the UK government has ignited a furious response on social media.

British TV presenter Piers Morgan, who has been a vocal critic of the government’s handling of the crisis, tweeted his disbelief at the reports and branded it “shameful.” Morgan has been embroiled in a long-running feud with UK ministers for boycotting interviews on his ‘Good Morning Britain’ show on the issue of Covid-19.

While some people on Twitter praised May for showing “integrity and moral courage” in not agreeing to tow the government line, others suggested the public should be out in the streets protesting Johnson’s administration “rather than tearing up statues.”

Protests led by the Black Lives Matter movement have swept across the UK, and some have boiled over into activists clashing with police and targeting statues of figures such as slave traders. One commenter joked that Cummings must be reveling in the fact that protests are “dominating the news agenda,” which is “taking the heat off him and the government.”

The chief nurse was also scheduled to take part in the Downing Street briefing on June 5 but failed to appear after being delayed by traffic. Asked to respond, No. 10 said it strongly denied the claims that May had been dropped over her views on Cummings.

The news comes just days after England’s deputy chief medical officer Jonathan Van-Tam broke ranks at a Covid-19 briefing, when he was asked about Cummings and responded that lockdown rules “apply to all.” Van-Tam has not made a media appearance since.

Johnson’s chief aide was embroiled in scandal over his trips to Durham and Barnard Castle during lockdown. An investigation by UK police concluded that Cummings may have committed a “minor breach” of Covid-19 regulations, but that no retrospective action would be taken against him.

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