PM's lockdown plan overshadowed by Dominic Cummings fallout
Last night Prime Minister Boris Johnson stood by his chief advisor Dominic Cummings stating that he ‘followed the instincts of every father’ when he defied lockdown rules in March.
Camilla Tominey and Andrew Pierce join us today with the latest on this developing story and discuss whether the public can trust in this government to control the virus, if they aren’t all willing to follow the guidelines themselves.
PM BACKS CUMMINGS DURING DAILY BRIEFING
The Prime Minister's attempts to get Britain back on track after coronavirus threaten to be overshadowed by the continued fallout over Cummings' lockdown trip.
Johnson chose to front the daily Downing Street Covid-19 briefing to publicly back Mr Cummings on Sunday, saying he had "acted responsibly, legally and with integrity" by driving 260 miles to County Durham to isolate and that "any parent would frankly understand what he did".
But Tory backbenchers tore into Mr Johnson over his handling of the row, while scientists claimed the defence of Mr Cummings' interpretation of the lockdown rules undermined efforts to curb the spread of the deadly virus.
PM SIGNALS LOCKDOWN IS EASING
The storm over Mr Cummings' actions overshadowed Mr Johnson's latest signal that the lockdown is easing as the Prime Minister confirmed the phased reopening of England's primary schools will commence on June 1.
He is also, according to government sources, set to reveal plans to ease restrictions for certain sectors of the economy - with the changes expected to signal the reopening of some non-essential shops - when the Cabinet meets on Monday.
SENIOR TORIES CRITICISE DECISION TO KEEP CUMMINGS ON
But the drama incited by news of Mr Cummings' lockdown travels - made on fatherly "instinct" to ensure care was available for his son, according to Mr Johnson - will spill over into bank holiday as senior Tories continued to criticise the decision to keep the aide on.
Former minister Paul Maynard said: "It is a classic case of 'do as I say, not as I do' - and it is not as if he was unfamiliar with guidance he himself helped draw up.
"It seems to me to be utterly indefensible and his position wholly untenable."
Tory MP Jason McCartney, said while it was important for people to show compassion during the crisis, Mr Cummings had to go because the "perceived hypocrisy of the rule makers potentially threatens the success of any future measures" under a second wave of the coronavirus.
Social psychologist Professor Stephen Reicher, one of the scientists on the Scientific Pandemic Influenza Group on Behaviours (SPI-B) - a subgroup of the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage), which is advising ministers through the crisis - said Mr Johnson had "trashed" their advice.
BISHOPS ACCUSE PM OF TREATING PEOPLE 'AS MUGS'
Meanwhile, the PM also came in for stinging criticism from bishops, while Mr Cummings is likely to face further questioning after he was reported to Durham Constabulary over alleged sightings of him across the county during the lockdown period.
Church of England bishops accused the PM of treating people "as mugs" and with "no respect" after he opted to stick by his chief aide.
The Rt Revd Nick Baines, Bishop of Leeds, tweeted: "The question now is: do we accept being lied to, patronised and treated by a PM as mugs?"
WHERE DID DOMINIC CUMMINGS TRAVEL TO?
Mr Cummings travelled to County Durham in March to self-isolate with his family while official guidelines warned against long-distance journeys, apparently because he feared that he and his wife would be left unable to care for their son if both incapacitated by coronavirus symptoms.
Further reports also suggested the 48-year-old took a second trip to the North East in April, having already returned to London following his recovery from Covid-19 - a disease which has seen more than 45,000 people in the UK die after contracting it, according to the latest available data.
And, in developments which will pile more pressure on the Government, an alleged eyewitness, who says he saw Mr Cummings on a third occasion on April 12, told the Mirror he had reported the controversial figure to Durham Constabulary for a suspected breach of lockdown.
It comes as Councillor Amanda Hopgood, the leader of the Liberal Democrat opposition on Durham County Council, said she had written to Durham police's Chief Constable Jo Farrell after being made aware of a number of sightings of the PM's senior aide in the area in April and May.
CUMMINGS' PARENTS DEFEND THEIR SON
Rallying against the tide of condemnation levelled at their son, Mr Cummings parents, Morag and Robert, defended him in an interview with the New Statesman.
Morag said the family had been grieving after her brother- Lord Justice Laws - died on April 5 after contracting Covid-19 while ill in hospital.
His father added that he was "disgusted" at the way the press had treated his son during the coverage.
POLICE VISIT CUMMINGS' HOME
Police attended Mr Cummings' London home on Sunday afternoon after it was "reported that a large crowd of people were outside the address".
Scotland Yard would not confirm who had called officers.