Why Dominic Cummings broke lockdown rules - and if he’ll be forced to resign

By Claire Schofield
Monday, 25th May 2020, 12:20 pm
Updated Monday, 25th May 2020, 12:20 pm
Dominic Cummings has come under fire for travelling 260 miles from London to County Durham during lockdown (Photo: Getty Images)
Dominic Cummings has come under fire for travelling 260 miles from London to County Durham during lockdown (Photo: Getty Images)

The Prime Minister’s chief advisor Dominic Cummings has come under fire over allegations he breached lockdown restrictions.

Boris Johnson is now facing pressure from MPs to sack his key senior aide after he travelled from London to Durham during the lockdown.

Here’s what you need to know.

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    What did Dominic Cummings do?

    Mr Cummings travelled from London to County Durham to self-isolate with his family in March, despite official guidelines warning against long-distance journeys.

    The chief advisor made the decision to travel 260 miles north due to fears there would be no one to look after his four-year-old son should he and his wife become ill with coronavirus at the same time.

    As a result, he travelled to be near to his family in Durham to seek childcare.

    Further reports also suggested that he took a second trip to the North East in April, having already returned to London after recovering from coronavirus.

    Police have confirmed they spoke with Mr Cummings’ father after being made aware he had travelled to the area from London on 31 March.

    However, police deemed no further action was required.

    Did he have coronavirus when he travelled?

    Mr Cummings developed symptoms of coronavirus during the weekend of 28 to 29 March, just two days after Boris Johnson tested positive on 26 March.

    A statement issued by Durham Constabulary suggested Mr Cummmings’ father had confirmed his son was self-isolating in the North East as of 31 March.

    As the average incubation period for coronavirus is five days - although it can be as long as 14, in some cases - the four day-period between the two dates suggests Mr Cummings could have been asymptomatic while he was travelling.

    Will he be forced to resign?

    Despite the backlash over the journey made by Mr Cummings, Boris Johnson said at a Downing Street press conference that his most senior adviser “acted responsibly, legally and with integrity”.

    Mr Johnson said he believed his adviser acted in the best interests of his child and described his actions as a behaviour “any parent would frankly understand”.

    In a press conference on Sunday (24 May), the Prime Minister said that after “extensive” talks with Mr Cummings, he concluded that he had “followed the instincts of every father and every parent”.

    Mr Cummings also received support from several other senior Cabinet ministers when the allegations emerged, but has since been met with increasing criticism from Tory MPs.

    However, a number of Conservative backbenchers have now joined calls from opposition parties for Mr Cummings to resign or be sacked, amid accusations his actions have “undermined” the efforts to fight coronavirus.

    Did he break the law by travelling?

    The Education Secretary has said it was his “understanding” from the Prime Minister that Mr Cummings and his family did not break the law by travelling to Durham during lockdown.

    Speaking on BBC Breakfast, Gavin Williamson said Mr Johnson had been “absolutely categorically assured” that Mr Cummings and his family both followed the guidance and followed the rules.

    He said: “The guidance is incredibly extensive and at the heart of that guidance is always the issue of safeguarding children and making sure that children are always absolutely protected.

    "My understanding is from what the Prime Minister said yesterday [...] is that at every stage Dominic Cummings followed and his family followed the guidance, and at no stage did Dominic Cummings or his family break the law."

    Will the matter be taken further?

    The Prime Minister has said that he is standing by his most senior adviser, suggesting Mr Cummings will not be forced to resign.

    Mr Johnson concluded that his chief aide “had no alternative” but to make the journey that he did.

    At a press conference on Sunday (24 May), the Prime Minister said: “I have had extensive face-to-face conversations with Dominic Cummings and 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.