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The Dutch prime minister has been hailed for abiding by Covid-19 lockdown rules which prevented him from visiting his dying mother in a care home, in contrast to actions of the UK prime minister’s top aide, Dominic Cummings.

On Monday, Mark Rutte announced the death of his 96-year-old mother at a home in The Hague on May 13. The Dutch prime minister’s office later revealed that he had obeyed strict social distancing measures that his own government had implemented since March 20, despite the tragic circumstances.

The news emerged about Rutte, as the British media became absorbed in the political fallout over Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s most senior aide violating lockdown rules that he himself reportedly helped to formulate.

Cummings used a press conference on Monday evening to try to explain his reasons for traveling around 260 miles (418 km) to his parents’ estate at the height of the Covid-19 crisis, essentially citing childcare issues.

Johnson has given his full backing to his most trusted adviser, insisting at Sunday’s daily coronavirus briefing that Cummings had acted “responsibly, legally and with integrity” – using his “instinct” when he embarked on the trip from London to Durham in late March. 

People on social media have lashed out at Cummings’ convoluted justification for breaking the rules that everyone else in the UK has had to follow. Many cited the huge personal sacrifices they have been making to obey the government’s Covid-19 guidelines. 

One commenter mocked Johnson and his aide while praising the Dutch PM, tweeting: “I guess some countries leaders can ignore their ‘instinct’ and follow the rules.” Another said: “THAT is integrity,” while expressing sympathy over Rutte’s painful decision to not say goodbye to his mother.

So… the Dutch PM didn’t visit his dying mother but Cummings drove blind around the English countryside with his son and wife and has been commended for his integrity and for reading between the lines of the rules he wrote 👍 pic.twitter.com/FBB0GuumnR

In a veiled attack on Johnson, another commenter wrote: “It seems that other countries have real leadership.”

If Cummings and the UK prime minister thought the issue had now been put to bed, they appear to have misjudged the mood of the nation, including some of the government’s own ministers. On Tuesday Douglas Ross, under-secretary of state for Scotland, became the first government minister to resign due to the Cummings scandal.

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