Dominic Cummings, one of Boris Johnson’s closest allies, refused to quit his role in the U.K. government, dismissing claims he flouted coronavirus-lockdown rules that he had helped to draft.
Cummings’ decision to stay on comes despite intense pressure from politicians on all sides — including his own Conservative colleagues — to quit. The main charge against him is that he ignored the official lockdown rules when he drove more than 250 miles to his parents’ complex of houses in northeast England to seek childcare support for his four-year-old son.
“I don’t regret what I did,” Cummings, 48, told reporters in the rose garden of Johnson’s residence Monday. “I believe I made the right judgment though I understand that others may disagree with that.”
At the time Johnson’s government was telling the public to “stay at home,” while anyone with virus symptom — which Cummings then developed — should self-isolate.
Cummings said he believed it was likely he had Covid-19 when he decided to drive to Durham on March 27 to stay at a private cottage on his parents’ estate. At one point he left the property by car to collect his wife and son from hospital.
He said he drove half an hour to Barnard Castle on April 12 to see if he was fit enough to undertake a longer drive. The family took a walk and saw someone he knew from a distance. He returned to London the following day.
Durham police said Monday they were formally investigating whether Cummings had broken lockdown rules after a retired teacher said he saw Cummings on April 12 at Barnard Castle, a beauty spot 30 miles away from his parents’ home. Separate reports over the weekend that he made a second trip later in April were denied by ministers.
“I’ve not offered to resign,” Cummings said. “I have not considered it.”
On Sunday, Johnson said he accepted Cummings’ explanation for the trip. But the prime minister’s refusal to fire his controversial aide angered many of Johnson’s own party. At least 16 Tory MPs called on Cummings to resign or be sacked, while two ministers told Bloomberg News the premier had made a mistake in not firing Cummings.
— With assistance by Ben Sills
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