PM backs key aide Dominic Cummings in lockdown row

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Boris Johnson has backed his key adviser Dominic Cummings, amid a row over the aide’s travel during lockdown.

The PM said he had concluded Mr Cummings had “no alternative” but to travel to the North East for childcare “when both he and his wife were about to be incapacitated by coronavirus”.

“In every respect, he has acted responsibly, legally and with integrity,” he said.

It follows calls from several Tory MPs for Mr Cummings’ resignation.

On Saturday, Mr Cummings and the government had said he acted “reasonably and legally” in response to the original claims that he drove 260 miles from London to County Durham with his wife, who had coronavirus symptoms.

The aide then faced further allegations on Sunday of a second trip to the North East, reported by The Observer and Sunday Mirror.

But, speaking at Downing Street’s daily coronavirus briefing, Mr Johnson called “some” of the claims “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.”

Mr Johnson said he held “extensive” discussions on Sunday with Mr Cummings, who he said “followed the instincts of every father and every parent – and I do not mark him down for that”.

When asked whether Mr Cummings made a trip to Barnard Castle in April during his isolation, Mr Johnson said his aide isolated for 14 days and he was “content that in all periods and in both sides (of isolation) he behaved responsibly and correctly”.

It strikes me Boris Johnson is taking a political gamble here; that the public will understand his decision or aren’t that bothered by a “Westminster row”.

Indeed, Mr Johnson and Mr Cummings are seen as political operators who can judge the public mood well.

But many – including several Tory MPs – think they’ve got this wrong. They believe the public does care and see it as one rule for us, one rule for them.

Labour had called for an urgent inquiry into the allegations, while several Conservative backbench MPs publicly questioned Mr Cummings’ position.

And Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said, the “integrity” of public health advice “must come first” and she urged Mr Cummings to resign.

She added that it was “tough to lost a trusted adviser at the height of crisis”, referring to Scotland’s chief medical officer who resigned in April after twice breaking lockdown restrictions to drive to her second home.

Some government ministers had rallied around Mr Cummings on Saturday and defended his conduct.

Matt Hancock and Michael Gove were among those to back Mr Cummings for self-isolating at a property adjacent to other family members in case he and his wife needed help with childcare during the lockdown.

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Source Author: BBC News