DOMINIC Cummings was under mounting pressure to resign last night after an unprecedented press conference, held by an aide at Number 10, where he attempted to justify travelling from London to Durham and breaching the lockdown.
The Prime Minister’s chief adviser held the event yesterday afternoon following an outpouring of anger among the public, MPs, bishops, police, scientists and medics.
He attempted to draw a line under the episode, saying he made the journey because of fears over a lack of childcare if he became incapacitated with Covid-19, but also concerns about his family’s safety.
Cummings also turned his anger on the press, pointing at stories which had suggested he had opposed lockdown and “did not care about many deaths”.
He told reporters: “The truth is that I had argued for lockdown. I did not oppose it, but these stories had created a very bad atmosphere around my home, I was subjected to threats of violence, people came to my house shouting threats, there were posts on social media encouraging attacks.”
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The adviser did not apologise for any of his actions which have caused public outrage and criticism from both Tory MPs and opposition parties. The lack of an apology, and the admission that he drove to Barnard Castle – some 30 miles away – “to test his eyesight” fuelled more anger.
Last night, SNP Westminster Leader Ian Blackford MP said: “What should have been a resignation statement turned out to be a botched PR exercise that changes nothing. It is now beyond doubt Dominic Cummings broke multiple lockdown rules.
“There was no apology and no contrition from Mr Cummings for his behaviour – and now, following this unrepentant press conference, there are no excuses left for him.
“He has done nothing but double down on the double standards he has displayed and which millions of people across the UK are furious about.
“Let’s be clear there is nothing about Mr Cummings that is exceptional except his complete inability to realise he broke the rules. The Prime Minister has no option but to sack Mr Cummings. His failure to do so so far is a gross failure of leadership. Boris Johnson has apparently known about this for weeks, has failed to offer any answers himself and now has no option but to sack Dominic Cummings and answer questions about his own role in the Downing Street cover-up.
“Boris Johnson’s failure to show leadership is damaging the public health message and putting lives at risk, as leading public health experts have warned.”
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Scottish Labour leader Richard Leonard said: “Dominic Cummings has failed in his attempt to justify his actions. What is particularly upsetting for people listening to his statement is that they have followed the lockdown rules, while Dominic Cummings did not.
“Some people have missed the chance to spend final moments with a loved one, some have missed their loved ones’ funerals. Some have had no help with childcare, despite illness. Some people’s sacrifices during this time will leave a lasting trauma.
“Dominic Cummings has not apologised for his actions and Boris Johnson’s handling of this situation has been unacceptable.”