Boris Johnson’s embattled aide Dominic Cummings will appear before the public today to address the outcry over his 260-mile drive during coronavirus lockdown.
The Mirror reports that it is the first time a senior aide has taken the “unprecedented” action of making a public statement.
The announcement comes in the wake of a public uproar after British Prime Minister Boris Johnson defended Cummings’ actions yesterday.
The Daily Mail stated that Johnson “effectively staked his political reputation on trying to protect Mr Cummings, but the calls for the adviser to be sacked continue to grow.”
At a Downing Street press conference last night, the Prime Minister insisted that his Senior Aide had acted responsibly in making a 260-mile trip from London to Durham during lockdown after his wife developed symptoms of coronavirus.
The BBC reported witnesses seeing Cummings making an additional trip on 12 April to another long-distance destination, Barnard Castle. Cummings has denied all claims that he made a second trip.
U.K. Government guidelines have advised against long-distance journeys during lockdown.
At the conference, Johnson called Cummings’ actions “totally understandable,” “legal,” and “responsible.”
“[He had] been travelling to find the right kind of childcare at the moment when both he and his wife were about to be incapacitated by coronavirus. And when he had no alternative, I think he followed the instincts of every father and every parent, and I do not mark him down for that.”
Discussion around Cummings’ actions was heated in the British tabloids today. The Mirror reported that one woman, Louise Bennett, who had lost her 14-year-old son during a course of leukemia treatment, was angered by Cummings’ “special treatment,” which she called “‘offensive to every family’ forced to make difficult decisions and huge sacrifices during the lockdown.”
Bennett’s son, Fred, was receiving treatment for cancer when he contracted COVID-19. He died in hospital on May 3.
Durham Police issued a statement this morning, which said there was a “plethora of information circulating in the public domain which deserves appropriate examination.”
Acting Police and Crime Commissioner Steve White has called for a formal investigation regarding any “potential breach of the law or regulations.”
Professor Stephen Reicher, a member of the Government’s advisory group who spoke on ITV’s Good Morning Britain program this morning, said that Boris Johnson had “fatally” undermined lockdown and trust in the Government.
“Because of undermining adherence to the rules we all need to follow, people are going to die.”
Education Secretary Says Cummings Shouldn’t Resign As He Did Nothing Wrong
Education Secretary Gavin Williamson told Sky News that Cummings had not broken the law, The Sun reported today.
“My understanding is from what the Prime Minister said yesterday, at every stage Dominic Cummings followed and his family followed the guidance, and at no stage did Dominic Cummings or his family break the law.
”The guidance is incredibly extensive and at the heart of that guidance is always the issue of safeguarding children and making sure that children are always absolutely protected.”
The event has triggered a schism and potential mutiny in the Tory party. According to Politico, “Tory MPs from every wing of the party [are] reporting abject rage from their constituents.” 20 Tory MPs have now come forward saying they believe Cummings should be fired from his post.