British PM’s aide refuses to resign after lockdown violation

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Dominic Cummings

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s closest aide has defied calls to quit over accusations that he flouted a coronavirus lockdown by driving 250 miles from London to northern England.

In a statement, which he read on Monday to media men on the grounds of 10 Downing Street, Dominic Cummings said he believed he had acted reasonably and had not violated the lockdown rules.

“I did what I thought was the right thing to do. I think…I behaved reasonably,” Cummings said in response to reporters’ questions after delivering the statement.

Johnson had defended Cummings on Sunday, saying the advisor acted “responsibly and legally and with integrity” when he travelled 400 km (25 miles) in March from London to County Durham in northern England with his son and wife, who had symptoms of COVID-19, to be with relatives.

Cummings, who fell ill himself after the long drive, explained that he had wanted to ensure his four-year-old son could be properly cared for if he fell ill.

At the time, strict lockdown rules were in place.

Some lawmakers, bishops, scientists, doctors and police officers said Cummings’ apparent disregard for the rules imposed on everyone else had undermined efforts to control the coronavirus outbreak.

Cummings, 48, could still face pressure to quit despite his statement.

With a death toll of around 43,000, Britain is the worst-hit country in Europe and the government had been under pressure over its handling of the pandemic.