Dominic Cummings lockdown scandal undermined public trust in the government, research finds
The handling of the Dominic Cummings lockdown scandal had a detrimental effect on public confidence in the government's coronavirus response, research has found
A paper by University College London researchers, published in The Lancet, identified a clear "Cummings effect" that caused a decrease in public confidence in the government's handling of coronavirus.
The research followed over 40,000 people's opinions relating to the government's pandemic response over six weeks, and found that Cummings' trip to Durham under lockdown eroded public confidence in the government.
Another key finding from the study was that Boris Johnson's failure to reprimand Cummings for his transgressions led to a loss of faith in the government's handling of the pandemic.
Dominic Cummings, Boris Johnson's top aide, had travelled from London to Durham to be with his extended family when the lockdown rules said that people “should not be visiting family members who do not live in your home”.
Dr Daisy Fancourt, lead author of the study, said: "Public trust in the government’s ability to manage the pandemic is crucial as it underpins public attitudes and behaviours at a precarious time for public health.
“Throughout lockdown it has been shown how closely public confidence is related to government announcements on Covid-19, with an initial boost as the lockdown came in, followed by a drop after 10 May as the government announced it would begin to reopen society.
"The data then shows a stabilisation and even a slight increase in public confidence in the fortnight following, but the Cummings events were followed by another sudden decrease."
The study showed that, compared to other high-profile breaches of lockdown, the lack of apology, resignation from Cummings, or any action from the prime minister, led to a decrease in public trust.