Boris Johnson Refuses To Fire Dominic Cummings Despite Lockdown Allegations

The PM confirmed his senior aide would keep his job despite massive backlash.

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Dominic Cummings will keep his job as Boris Johnson’s top aide, the prime minister has confirmed.

The PM says he had “extensive face to face” discussions with the former Vote Leave boss and that Cummings acted “responsibly, legally and with integrity”.

The decision to keep Cummings in Downing Street comes despite claims he twice defied the PM’s Covid-19 “stay at home” restrictions.

The PM is likely to face anger from the public, Labour and his own Tory backbenchers, who broke ranks on Sunday to demand Cummings go.

But Johnson gave a full-throated public show of support to his embattled aide, telling the Downing Street press conference on Sunday he “had extensive face-to-face conversations” with Cummings.

He added “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.”

It emerged on Friday that Cummings travelled 260 miles to Durham to self-isolate at his parents’ home in March.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson's senior aide Dominic Cummings leaves his home, in London
Prime Minister Boris Johnson's senior aide Dominic Cummings leaves his home, in London

Number 10 had initially defended him, saying the trip was justified as Cummings, who later tested positive for Covid-19, needed help with childcare for his four-year-old son.

Reports in the Sunday Mirror and Observer today, however, claimed that Cummings returned to County Durham on April 19 and witnesses saw him in a town called Barnard Castle.

Johnson also sought to defend his adviser, by saying “some” of the allegations about Cummings’ behaviour during self-isolation were “palpably false”.

He said: “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.”

He went on: “I can totally get why people might feel so confused and so offended by the idea that it is one thing for people here and another thing for others.

“But really having looked at what happened, having looked at his intentions and what he was trying to do for the good of his family, I really think most people will understand what he was doing and, above all, what he did – if you look at the measures that he took – they were designed to stop the spread of the virus.

“I think that he, at all times, behaved responsibly and legally.”

He did acknowledge, however, the damage the incident may have done to the government.

He said the “big question” that was being asked was “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 – stay at home – while some people have been basically flouting those rules and endangering lives.”

He said his conversations with Cummings today were “because I take this matter so seriously”.

Labour leader Keir Starmer said the cabinet secretary should launch an inquiry into the matter.

He said: “This was a test of the Prime Minister and he has failed it.

“It is an insult to sacrifices made by the British people that Boris Johnson has chosen to take no action against Dominic Cummings. The public will be forgiven for thinking there is one rule for the Prime Minister’s closest adviser and another for the British people.

“The prime minister’s actions have undermined confidence in his own public health message at this crucial time.

“Millions were watching for answers and they got nothing. That’s why the cabinet secretary must now launch an urgent inquiry.”


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