Boris Johnson repeats support for Dominic Cummings after aide's statement

  • Video report by Political Editor Robert Peston

Boris Johnson repeated his message that Dominic Cummings had made the correct decision in driving to Durham during the coronavirus lockdown.

Following Mr Cummings' press conference earlier on Monday, Mr Johnson repeatedly referred questions on the topic of his chief adviser to what was said in the Downing Street rose garden.

The prime minister said of the controversy involving his chief adviser: “Yes of course I do regret the confusion and the anger and the pain that people feel.”

Mr Cummings said he had to drive for half an hour on Easter Sunday to test his eyesight before making the long trip back to London.

Mr Johnson said his own eyesight had been affected by coronavirus as he faced questions about why aide Dominic Cummings went for a drive to test his own vision.

The Prime Minister told the Downing Street press conference: “I’m finding that I have to wear spectacles for the first time in years – I think because of the effects of this thing – so I’m inclined to think there’s some … I think that’s very, very plausible that eyesight can be a problem associated with coronavirus.”

Mr Johnson was asked why the Government had not laid on a car for Mr Cummings to return to the capital.

The PM said: “To the best of my knowledge, Mr Cummings has just subjected himself to your interrogation for quite a long time now about these very detailed matters and has produced quite a substantial chunk of autobiography about what happened in the period from March 27 to April 14.

“I really feel that it would be wrong of me to try to comment further. I think people will have to make their minds up. I think he spoke at great length. To me, he came across as somebody who cared very much about his family and who was doing the best for his family.

“I think, as he said himself, reasonable people may disagree about some of the decisions that he took, but I don’t think reasonable people can disagree about what was going through his head at the time and the motivations for those decisions.”

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Mr Johnson did give an indication of how lockdown would be eased.

The prime minister said outdoor markets and car showrooms will be able to reopen from June 1 if they can meet the Covid-19 secure guidelines to protect shoppers and workers.

Mr Johnson explained that due to the improving situation with coronavirus that schools and shops will also be able reopen next month.

Non-essential shops, which have been closed during lockdown, will also be permitted to open their doors once more from June 15.

Mr Johnson set out his plans for the staged reopening of shops in England at his Downing Street press conference.

Dominic Cummings spoke on Monday afternoon. Credit: PA

The Prime Minister said: “We will set out our formal assessment of the five tests that we set for adjusting the lockdown later this week as part of the three-weekly review we are legally required to undertake by Thursday.

“But because of the progress we are making I can, with confidence, put the British people on notice of the changes we intend to introduce as we move to step two.”

From June 1, outdoor markets and car showrooms will be allowed to open, provided they can do so safely.

He said: “We know that the transmission of the virus is lower outdoors and that it is easier to follow Covid secure guidelines in open spaces.”

From June 15, “all other non-essential retail” will be allowed to reopen, contingent on progress in the fight against coronavirus and if the businesses are “Covid secure”.

  • Watch the press conference in full below

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