Get the latest on coronavirus. Sign up to the Daily Brief for news, explainers, how-tos, opinion and more.
The official Twitter account of the UK Civil Service has branded the government “arrogant and offensive” in a remarkable tweet just moments after the Downing Street daily press briefing.
The message was swiftly deleted but not before it had been retweeted over 30,000 times.
It read: “Arrogant and offensive. Can you imagine having to work with these truth twisters?”
The tweet appears to have been sent in reaction to Boris Johnson confirming that Dominic Cummings will keep his job despite claims he twice defied the PM’s Covid-19 “stay at home” restrictions and travelled 260 miles to Durham to self-isolate at his parents’ home in March.
The PM said he had “extensive face to face” discussions with the former Vote Leave boss and that Cummings acted “responsibly, legally and with integrity”.
He added: “I have concluded that in travelling to find the right kind of childcare, at the moment when both he and his wife were about to be incapacitated by coronavirus – and when he had no alternative – I think he followed the instincts of every father and every parent”.
The UK Civil Service is the body of workers that carry out the day-to-day work of the government. They remain in place when governments change and are professionally apolitical.
Later on Sunday evening UK Government spokesman said the tweet was “unauthorised”, adding: “The post has been removed and we are investigating the matter.”
The PM’s comments sparked an instant backlash on social media from a public confused that everyone but Cummings had interpreted the government’s ‘Stay At Home’ instructions at face value.
The sentiment was echoed by Labour leader Kier Starmer.
Number 10 had initially defended Cummings, saying the trip was justified as he needed help with childcare for his four-year-old son. Cummings later tested positive for Covid-19,
Johnson also sought to defend his adviser, by saying “some” of the allegations about Cummings’ behaviour during self-isolation were “palpably false”.
He said: “Though there have been many other allegations about what happened when he was in self-isolation and thereafter, some of them palpably false, I believe that in every respect he has acted responsibly and legally and with integrity and with the overwhelming aim of stopping the spread of the virus and saving lives.”