Good morning. Boris Johnson is facing mounting pressure to sack his closest aide following reports he breached lockdown rules in March.
A joint investigation by the Guardian and Mirror newspapers revealed that police spoke to Dominic Cummings, the prime minister’s key adviser, after he visited his parents’ home in Durham, 264 miles from his London home while he had coronavirus symptoms in late March.
Cummings and his wife, who was also experiencing symptoms, stayed with his parents while self-isolating. A source close to Cummings denied a breach of the coronavirus rules to the BBC, saying the couple needed childcare help. They added that the couple had stayed in a separate building at the property.
Only days earlier, the government had told the public to avoid all non-essential travel, to not meet family members who do not live with them, and to stay at home – with fines in places for those who broke the rules – and both Boris Johnson and the health secretary, Matt Hancock, had tested positive for Covid-19. Anyone with coronavirus symptoms was also instructed to self-isolate at home and not to leave the house for seven days – even for essential supplies. The prime minister had also said clearly that children should not be left with grandparents or older relatives “who may be particularly vulnerable or fall into some of the vulnerable groups”.
Labour demanded No 10 “to provide a very swift explanation for his actions”. The party’s vice chair, Tulip Sadiq, said:
If accurate, the prime minister’s chief adviser appears to have breached the lockdown rules. The government’s guidance was very clear: stay at home and no non-essential travel.
The British people do not expect there to be one rule for them and another rule for Dominic Cummings. Number 10 needs to provide a very swift explanation for his actions.
The acting leader of the Liberal Democrats, Ed Davey, tweeted:
If Dominic Cummings has broken the lockdown guidelines he will have to resign. It’s as simple as that.
And Ian Blackford, the Scottish National party’s Westminster leader, said:
Dominic Cummings’ position is completely untenable – he must resign or be sacked.
But a source close to Cummings said there is “zero chance” he will resign.
Cummings is the latest high-profile figure to have broken the government’s lockdown rules. Prof Neil Ferguson, whose epidemiological modelling helped shape the lockdown policy, resigned in early May when it was revealed that he flouted the rules to receive visits from his lover at his home. And Scotland’s chief medical officer, Catherine Calderwood, had to go after it emerged in early April that she visited her second home twice despite her own advice to the public to avoid all non-essential travel.
I’ll be bringing you all the latest UK developments on the coronavirus pandemic throughout the day, so please feel free to get in touch with any news tips, advice, comments or suggestions.