Calls for UK PM's aide to quit over lockdown travel

Source : IANS
Author : IANS
Last Updated: Sat, May 23rd, 2020, 14:51:30hrs

London, May 23 (IANS) UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson's chief aide Dominic Cummings is facing calls to resign after it emerged that he travelled from London to his parents' home in Durham with coronavirus symptoms during lockdown, the media reported on Saturday.

Cummings and his wife, who was also unwell, stayed at his parents' home while self-isolating, the BBC said in a report.

A source close to Cummings denied a breach of the coronavirus rules, saying the couple needed childcare help.

They added that the couple had stayed in a separate building at the property.

Downing Street declined to comment on Friday night after the story was first reported in the Guardian and the Daily Mirror newspapers.

The government has ordered anyone with coronavirus symptoms to self-isolate at home and not leave, even for essential supplies, for seven days.

Since his reported travel, Cummings has attended meetings of the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage) - the scientific body which gives independent advice that shapes the government's coronavirus response.

On March 30, it was reported that Cummings, the former Vote Leave chief who was the architect of Johnson's Brexit strategy, had developed symptoms of the coronavirus and was self-isolating at home.

A spokesman for Durham Police said its officers were made aware on March 31 "of reports that an individual had travelled from London to Durham and was present at an address in the city".

"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 BBC quoted a spokesperson of the opposition Labour Party as saying.

"The British people do not expect there to be one rule for them and another rule for Dominic Cummings."

The Scottish National Party's Westminster leader Ian Blackford said Cummings should resign or be dismissed by Johnson and that it was a "key test of leadership" for the Prime Minister.

Ed Davey, acting leader of the Liberal Democrats, added: "If Dominic Cummings has broken the guidelines he will have to resign, it is as simple as that."

Speaking to the BBC, former Conservative MP David Liddington, who was de facto deputy Prime minister under Theresa May, said: "There's clearly serious questions that No 10 are going to have to address not least because the readiness of members of the public to follow government guidance more generally is going to be affected by this sort of story."

--IANS

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