- Boris Johnson is under immense pressure to sack his close chief advisor Dominic Cummings.
- A former government minister told Business Insider that several Conservative MPs had written to government whips expressing anger over the latest claims facing Cummings.
- Cummings and his family drove to a city 260 miles from London in March during the UK’s lockdown, despite both him and his wife having coronavirus symptoms, it was reported on Friday.
- It emerged on Saturday that Cummings was allegedly spotted in Durham and the surrounding area on two more occasions a month later.
- Downing Street doubled down in its defense of Cummings, accusing The Guardian and Daily Mirror newspapers of publishing a “stream of false allegations.
- Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.
UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson is under intense pressure to sack his chief advisor Dominic Cummings after fresh claims that he flouted the UK government’s strict lockdown rules to travel 260 miles from London more than once.
A senior MP and former government minister told Business Insider that several Conservative MPs had written to government whips expressing anger over the latest claims facing Cummings and urging Johnson to take action.
The Daily Mirror and The Guardian newspapers on Friday reported that Cummings and his family in late March drove to Durham, a city in northeast England, to be near his family, despite Cummings and his wife both having coronavirus symptoms.
Keir Starmer’s Labour Party on Saturday led calls for an urgent inquiry into the incident. At the same time, other opposition parties said Johnson should sack his friend and chief advisor for breaking the government’s lockdown rules.
However, Downing Street and several senior UK ministers lept to Cummings’ defense, claiming that the UK’s lockdown rules permit people with COVID-19 symptoms to leave their homes in exceptional circumstances.
Cummings said he traveled 260 miles to seek childcare support from his relatives, and acted “responsibly and legally.”
But two revelations on Saturday evening have put even more pressure on Johnson to sack Cummings, with Members of Parliament in Johnson’s Conservative party expressing their anger over the latest developments.
The Daily Mirror and The Guardian newspapers reported that Cummings was spotted in Durham on a different occasion, this time on April 19, days after he was photographed in London working for Johnson’s UK government.
The reports say that he was also seen a week earlier at Barnard Castle, a popular tourist town 30 miles from Durham.
The ex-government minister said: “The new revelations make it worse. “We have had more emails this morning [from constituents] saying ‘what are the rules?'” they said.
“The line ‘doing what I think is right’ gives people carte blanche to say the same.”
Another Conservative MP said there emails inbox “was not a happy place at present.”
The UK government was on Saturday night, also accused of lying after Durham Police published a statement that contradicted Downing Street’s explanation of Cummings’ first trip to Durham in March.
The UK government said the Police did not speak to Cummings or his family about the incident. However, Durham Police last night said that they had talked to Cummings’ father about it.
MPs in Johnson’s own Conservative party urge him to sack Cummings
Downing Street doubled down in its defense of Cummings, attacking The Daily Mirror and The Guardian as “campaigning newspapers” publishing “inaccurate stories.”
“We will not waste our time answering a stream of false allegations about Mr Cummings from campaigning newspapers,” an official Downing Street spokesperson said on Saturday night.
However, now Johnson is under pressure from a growing number of MPs in his own party to act.
Conservative MP Steve Baker on Sunday morning tweeted, “Dominic Cummings should go,” saying he must leave his role “before he does any more harm to the UK, the Government, the Prime Minister, our institutions or the Conservative Party.”
He was followed by a number of Conservative MPs including Damian Collins, who said the UK government “would be better without him,” and Simon Hoare, who said Cummings was “wounding” Johnson and his government.
Former government minister Caroline Nokes tweeted: “I made my views clear to my whip yesterday. There cannot be one rule for most of us and wriggle room for others. My inbox is rammed with very angry constituents and I do not blame them. They have made difficult sacrifices over the course of the last 9 weeks.”
Roger Gale MP on Sunday afternoon told Sky News that Cummings was “dead in the water politically and said “he’s doing damage to theprime minister he’s supposed to be supporting — and none of us like that.”
He added: “How can I go on asking people to show self restraint when a very senior member of government isn’t?
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