Ireland

Boris Johnson offers top aide his ‘full support’ after 250-mile lockdown trip

DOMINIC CUMMINGS HAS the “full support” of the UK Prime Minister after details emerged that he travelled 250 miles to County Durham during the lockdown.

Boris Johnson had come under pressure to sack his top aide after it was revealed he drove his wife and child from their London home to a family property in the North East after his spouse developed coronavirus-related symptoms.

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps, speaking at the daily Downing Street Covid-19 briefing, said: “I can tell you the PM provides Mr Cummings with his full support.”

Number 10 had already offered the former Vote Leave campaign mastermind its support when putting out a statement today, stating that Mr Cummings’ actions “were in line with coronavirus guidelines”.

The SNP had been calling for the Conservative Party leader to sack Mr Cummings, with the party, along with Labour and the Liberal Democrats, having written to Cabinet Secretary Sir Mark Sedwill demanding an inquiry into what happened.

In a joint investigation, the Mirror and the Guardian reported that police intervened after receiving a tip-off that Cummings had travelled to his family home in County Durham to self-isolate, despite Boris Johnson having declared a lockdown in England days beforehand.

At the same time as the UK government was instructing people to remain home – with fines in place for those contravening the rules – Cummings reportedly decided to escape the capital.

The 48-year-old is alleged to have been present at his family home when police from Durham Constabulary turned up on 31 March, following a call from someone reporting they had seen Cummings in the area.

Durham police confirmed officers had spoken to the owners of an address in the city after reports a person had travelled there from London.

In a statement this morning, a Number 10 spokesperson defended Cummings’ actions and denied he or his family were spoken to by police about this matter.

“Owing to his wife being infected with suspected coronavirus and the high likelihood that he himself would become unwell, it was essential for Dominic Cummings to ensure his young child could be properly cared for,” the spokesperson said. 

“His sister and nieces had volunteered to help so he went to a house near to but separate from his extended family in case their help was needed. His sister shopped for the family and left everything outside.

“At no stage was he or his family spoken to by the police about this matter, as is being reported.

His actions were in line with coronavirus guidelines. Mr Cummings believes he behaved reasonably and legally.

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Criticism

Cummings has come in for strong criticism since the allegations were reported last night. 

Sir Ed Davey, acting leader of the Liberal Democrats, has called for Cummings to walk over the allegations.

“If Dominic Cummings has broken the lockdown guidelines he will have to resign, it is as simple as that,” the former energy secretary tweeted.

SNP Westminster leader Ian Blackford MP said the aide’s position was “completely untenable”.

“He must resign or be sacked,” he added.

The Labour Party said the “country deserves answers” at the daily Downing Street press conference on Saturday.

Includes reporting by Press Association

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