UK PM defends aide Dominic Cummings over lockdown travel

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British Prime Minister Boris Johnson resisted calls on Saturday from opposition events to sack adviser Dominic Cummings after he travelled 400km (250 miles) from London to northern England whereas his spouse confirmed COVID-19 signs.

The Guardian and Mirror newspapers reported that Cummings, who masterminded the 2016 marketing campaign to go away the European Union throughout the Brexit referendum, was seen at his mother and father’ property in Durham, northeast England, on the finish of March.

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A lockdown that started on March 23 stipulated that folks ought to stay at their major residence, leaving just for important native errands and train, and never go to relations. Anyone with signs was instructed to utterly isolate themselves.

Durham Police mentioned that officers went to a home on March 31 and “explained to the family the guidelines around self-isolation and reiterated the appropriate advice around essential travel”. Police didn’t point out Cummings by identify.

Johnson’s workplace mentioned Cummings made the journey to make sure his younger son could possibly be correctly cared for, as his spouse was in poor health with COVID-19 and there was a “high likelihood” that Cummings would himself develop into unwell.

“I behaved reasonably and legally,” Cummings mentioned on Saturday. Asked if he would contemplate his place, he mentioned: “Obviously not.” He then chided reporters for being incorrect about the results of the 2016 Brexit referendum.

“You guys are probably all about as right about that as you were about Brexit: do you remember how right you all were about that?” Cummings mentioned.

Ministers voiced help for the senior adviser.

“I can tell you that the PM provides Mr Cummings with his full support,” Transport Secretary Grant Shapps instructed reporters, including that he didn’t know when the prime minister discovered concerning the journey. Downing Street mentioned Cummings’ “actions were in line with coronavirus guidelines”.

The Guardian and Mirror newspapers reported in a while Saturday that Cummings could have made a second journey to northern England throughout the lockdown.

Calls to fireplace Cummings

Opposition events referred to as for Johnson to sack Cummings and Labour referred to as on the nation’s most senior civil servant, Mark Sedwill, to open an investigation into the journey.

“The prime minister’s chief adviser appears to believe that it is one rule for him and another for the British people,” the Labour Party mentioned. “We are still unclear who knew about this decision and when, whether this was sanctioned by the prime minister.”

Just a couple of days earlier than Cummings’ journey, Johnson imposed a lockdown within the United Kingdom and requested folks to remain at home. He mentioned on March 23 that folks “should not be meeting family members who do not live in your home”.

Shortly after Johnson introduced that he had examined constructive for COVID-19, Cummings sprinted out of Downing Street on March 27 and developed signs on the weekend of March 28-29.

Government pointers say that those that have COVID-19 or suspect they’ve it ought to self-isolate for no less than seven days together with their family and never depart their home for any motive.

The Scottish National Party and the Liberal Democrats referred to as for Cummings to be sacked. Other outstanding figures have resigned after having damaged lockdown rules.

Epidemiologist Neil Ferguson give up as a member of the federal government’s scientific advisory group after was visited at home by his girlfriend. Scotland’s chief medical officer, Catherine Calderwood, stepped down after she was caught making two journeys to her second home.

Dave Penman, the chief of civil servants union the FDA, mentioned: “The prime minister needs to understand how heartbreaking this lockdown has been for so many families and the sacrifices that have been made up and down the country.”

He mentioned Johnson should clarify why “it looks like there is one rule for those at the centre of government and one rule for rest of the country”.