24/05/2020 16:00 BST | Updated 24/05/2020 22:20 BST

PM To Lead Press Conference As Calls Intensify For Dominic Cummings To Resign

Senior aide stands accused of twice breaking the lockdown.

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Boris Johnson is set to lead the Downing Street press conference as pressure mounts on him to sack his senior aide Dominic Cummings. 

The prime minister is likely to face a barrage of questions over Cummings, who is alleged to have twice broken the coronavirus lockdown, when he appears before the cameras at the daily briefing at 5pm. 

The PM has been under pressure to act since it emerged on Friday that the former Vote Leave boss travelled 260 miles to Durham to self-isolate at his parents’ home in March. 

Cummings was seen entering Number 10 on Sunday afternoon, as a string of Conservative MPs broke ranks to call for his resignation.

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. 

Transport secretary Grant Shapps later told Sky News it was “completely untrue” that Cummings went back to Durham. 

But calls from Labour, the public and key Tory backbenchers for a clear explanation have been continuing to pile up. 

Shadow health secretary Jonathan Ashworth told the BBC: “This is a deadly, deadly virus which spreads with speed, which is why we went into a lockdown and it’s why the government told us and put into law a rule that we should stay at home, a rule that Dominic Cummings helped design with Boris Johnson.

“His behaviour is utterly irresponsible. He has undermined that rule, as have a whole chorus of cabinet ministers including the health Secretary, extraordinarily, undermined that public health rule which is about keeping people safe.”

Labour’s Rachel Reeves, shadow chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, meanwhile, has written to cabinet secretary Mark Sedwill to ask the top civil servant to investigate whether Cummings’ actions breached the lockdown and the code of conduct for special advisers. 

It reads: “The British people have made important and painful sacrifices to support the national effort, including being away from family in times of need.

“It is therefore vital that the government can reassure the public that its most senior figures have been adhering to the same rules as everyone else.”