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Dominic Cummings is at the centre of a national row regarding an alleged breach of coronavirus lockdown rules in March. The PM’s chief aide has been accused of driving from London to County Durham at the height of lockdown restrictions in breach of lockdown rules. But how many believe Mr Cummings should resign and will he quit?
Dominic Cummmings is Boris Johnson’s closest political adviser working in the upper reaches of the Government and Conservative Party for almost 20 years.
Mr Cummings was seen leaving Downing Street on March 27 and three days later was confirmed to be self-isolating with coronavirus symptoms.
But despite the UK being on lockdown, it is claimed Mr Cummings travelled 260 miles from London to Durham between March 27 and 31.
Police in Durham were “made aware of reports that an individual had travelled from London to Durham and was present at an address in the city” on March 31.
Officers then “made contact with the owners of that address”.
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Mr Cummings claimed and his wife made the trip in order to organise childcare support after the pair displayed COVID-19 symptoms.
According to The Mirror and The Observer, Mr Cummings then visited Barnard Castle, located 30 miles from his parent’s home in Durham.
Members of the public also claimed to have seen him in the county after he had returned to London in mid-April.
Speaking to reporters outside his London home on Saturday, he said he had done the “right thing” by travelling with his wife and young son to be near relatives when she developed coronavirus symptoms at the end of March.
Mr Johnson faced backlash on Sunday for his failure to sack Mr Cummings.
Speaking from Downing Street, the PM said: “I want to begin by answering the big question that people have been asking in the last 48 hours.
“And that is – is this Government asking you – the people, the public, to do one thing while senior people here in government do something else?
“Have we been asking you to make sacrifices, to obey social distancing, to stay at home while some people have been basically flouting those rules and endangering lives?
“And it is because I take this matter so seriously and frankly it is so serious that I can tell you today I have had extensive face to face conversations with Dominic Cummings and I have concluded that in 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. And though there have been many other allegations about what happened when he was in self-isolation and thereafter, some of them 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.
“And I stress this fundamental aim because it is thanks to this country’s collective resolve in achieving that aim that we continue to make progress.”
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So far, 15 Tory MPs including Steve Baker, Tim Loughton and Caroline Nokes, have called for Mr Cummings’ resignation.
Former minister Paul Maynard said: “It is a classic case of ‘do as I say, not as I do’ – and it is not as if he was unfamiliar with the guidance he himself helped draw up.
“It seems to me to be utterly indefensible and his position wholly untenable.”
Senior Church of England bishops and a scientist advising the Government on the pandemic have also criticised the Government’s handling of the row.
A frontline cardiology registrar has vowed to resign if the PM’s chief adviser does not resign by the end of the week.
As of 9.10am, more than 226,000 members of the public have signed this online petition calling for Mr Cummings’s resignation.
Writing on the petition, one person wrote: “Thousands of grieving families are not allowed to see hospitalised loved ones before they pass – NO ONE is excused for flouting the law. Especially 10 Downing St!”
Another added: “There’s no justification for travelling 250miles for family support, we all have to rely on local friends and online shops when isolating.”
One person wrote: “It seems to be one rule for us common folk and another for those in Westminster. What happened to lead by example, shocking.”
Bookmakers believe Mr Cummings will retain his current role until at least June 1.
According to Betfair, Dominic Cummings is at 1/2 odds to keep his current job on June 1, while he is at 6/4 odds to lose his position by that date.
Betfair Spokesperson Katie Baylis said: “The controversy around Cummings’ trip to his parents’ house in Durham may be gathering steam, but his odds of exiting his job have swung from odds-on at 4/6 first thing this morning that he would be gone by the end of the month, to odds-on at 1/2 now that he will still be there.
“While there have been calls for Cummings to resign or be sacked, we have seen the opposite when it comes to what punters believe will happen, but this story is sure to develop as the week, and even the day goes on, so we wouldn’t be surprised to see the odds fluctuate.”
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