Dominic Cummings and 'that trip', exams chaos and tragedy on the tracks: 2020 in review, part two

In the second part of our look back at a dramatic year, Liv McMahon examines the main events in May to August
Dominic Cummings leaves his home in north London.Dominic Cummings leaves his home in north London.
Dominic Cummings leaves his home in north London.


The Prime Minister marks a momentous point in the UK’s dealings with the coronavirus pandemic on May Day, declaring Britain is “past the peak” as citizens yearn for life beyond lockdown.

George Floyd, an unarmed black man, is killed during his arrest by a white police officer in Minneapolis, Minnesota, sparking the resurgence of the Black Lives Matter movement and protests across the US and around the world against police brutality and systemic racism.

All exams were cancelled because of the impact of coronavirus on pupilsAll exams were cancelled because of the impact of coronavirus on pupils
All exams were cancelled because of the impact of coronavirus on pupils
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Strains on the union continue to show themselves as the First Minister says she will not hesitate to follow a separate route to Westminster on easing lockdown rules and restrictions if it means saving more lives in the long-run.

Over 80 percent of Scotland’s visitor attractions are found to be at risk of going out of business due to the coronavirus pandemic. The National Trust for Scotland considers selling Bute House, the First Minister’s official residence, as it faces £28million in losses.

Scotland is poised to bear the brunt of the pandemic’s economic impact due to its dependence on hospitality, tourism and North Sea activities, all of which look to be gutted by months of lockdown.

Anger ensues at Westminster and around the country as it is revealed that Boris Johnson’s special advisor, Dominic Cummings, flouted lockdown with a 260 mile trip to Durham during lockdown. SNP blast Downing Street for “breathtaking arrogance” as Boris Johnson and ministers defend Cummings, refusing calls from backbench Tories and opposition parties to sack him.


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The Scottish Government warns it could be forced to divert resources away from the pandemic if the UK government refuses to extend the deadline for talks, as the prospect of a no-deal Brexit looms.

Scotland is cautiously optimistic after no new deaths are registered in the country over a 24-hour period - for the first time since lockdown began.

Thousands in Glasgow and Edinburgh join Black Lives Matter rallies as activists target monuments to Britain’s colonial past. A statue of Edward Colston, a British merchant tied to slavery, is toppled by crowds in Bristol and thrown into a harbour.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon says ‘racist thugs shame Scotland’ after anti-riot police are called to contain a ‘far-right’ group targeting a demonstration in George Square against conditions facing asylum seekers in Glasgow hotels.

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Dame Vera Lynn dies aged 103, leaving behind her a powerful legacy as the voice inspiring the nation through and beyond its wartime years.

Following Alex Salmond’s acquittal at his trial in March, it emerges Nicola Sturgeon and her husband, party chief executive Peter Murrell, will give evidence at the Holyrood inquiry into the Scottish Government’s handling of complaints against the former First Minister.

For the first time in months, Scots will be permitted to visit elderly loved ones staying in care homes as the Scottish Government gives green light for phased reopening.

The month ends dramatically as stabbings occur at a hotel housing asylum seekers in Glasgow city centre. The suspect is shot dead by armed police and six, including a police officer, are treated in hospital.


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Warning signs for Higher and National results appear with SQA’s admission that it will not have time to consult with teachers before downgrading pupils in revised results strategy.

Boris Johnson struggles to woo Scots as support for Scottish independence grows to 54 per cent over a sustained period of opinion polling, according to Professor Sir John Curtice. Joy for Scottish children as social distancing demands on those under 12 are lifted, as Scotland arrives at “significant milestones” in emerging from the weight of the pandemic.

Restrictions are eased on mixing indoors and outside, with pubs, restaurants, bars and hairdressers allowed to reopen and tourism stirring back into life.

Fears for the future UK economy remain in force, however, as fiscal watchdog warns that unemployment could rise to 13 percent and the economy may not recover until 2024.

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With young people looking to be marginally affected by sweeping job losses, Chancellor Rishi Sunak unveils what the government claims is the biggest young unemployment package in decades.

Glasgow-born actor and comedian Johnny Beattie dies at the age of 93 following a successful career spanning comedy, TV, theatre and film.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon issues calls for a full inquiry into potential Russian interference in the Scottish independence referendum campaign in the 2014 vote, asking for Downing Street to complete a full report on the matter.

The month concludes with the resignation of Scottish Conservative leader Jackson Carlaw, with his abrupt departure linked to low polling among party members and concerns about his appeal to voters.


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Northern Irish politician John Hume dies age 83, with tributes paid to his role in brokering the Northern Irish peace process.

Douglas Ross is swiftly tipped as Carlaw’s successor to Scottish Conservative leadership as tensions rise within the SNP. Joanna Cherry MP announces she will not be running for election to Scottish Parliament as planned, following the SNP NEC ruling necessitating that MPs resign before standing as MSPs.

Beirut is left devastated after large amounts of ammonium nitrate stored inadequately at the capital’s port explode, with giant blasts killing over 200 people, injuring hundreds and deepening the economic crisis already facing Lebanon.

Higher and National results show large-scale downgrading of pupil’s grades, with 125,000 grades lowered in move causing uproar among Scottish pupils, parents and teachers. John Swinney faces calls to resign, as well as a no confidence vote, before performing u-turn and issuing grades based on teacher estimates. The UK government is forced to pivot when its own downgraded results for England and Wales reflect a similarly

flawed process.

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Tragedy occurs as a passenger train derails near Stonehaven, Aberdeenshire, with three killed when train hits landslip on ‘flood-hit’ line. Driver and conductor among the dead, as an investigation into the incident reveals the train was travelling at 73mph when it derailed.

The First Minister calls for a reform of the UK's "deeply inhumane" asylum system following the death of Mercy Baguma in Glasgow, as the mother is found dead in her flat next to her starving baby.