Boris Johnson pleads with people to move on from Dominic Cummings row

Boris Johnson flatly dismissed calls for an official inquiry into Dominic Cummings today as he was grilled by senior MPs.

The PM said he ‘totally understood public indignation’ about the situation, but urged people to ‘move on’, insisting there had already been plenty of ‘autobiography’ from his chief aide.

Pushed on whether the Cabinet Secretary should carry out a formal investigation, Mr Johnson said it would not be a ‘good use of official time’ as everyone was working ‘flat out’ on the response to the virus. 

The comments came as Mr Johnson appeared before the Liaison Committee this afternoon, with the row over Mr Cummings’ 260-mile trip to Durham during lockdown still threatening to tear the Tories to pieces. 

The party’s poll lead has been slashed by nine points in a week – thought to be the biggest drop in a decade.  

A Cabinet minister said earlier that parents with childcare issues should ‘do as Dominic Cummings did’ and exercise ‘personal judgement’. 

The Tory civil war has been escalating again, with an MP accusing his colleagues of ‘declaring no confidence’ in the PM. 

Devizes MP Danny Kruger said ‘one wing’ of the party was ‘going bonkers’ and comparing the alleged lockdown breach to ‘the invasion of Suez’.

But in a sign of the depth of the devastating rift, former health secretary Jeremy Hunt has insisted Mr Cummings ‘clearly’ did break the rules. 

A private conference call with government whips and the new intake of Conservative MPs today appears to have smoothed over matters somewhat, with no more outright calls for the adviser to quit.

The PM urged people to move on from the controversy, saying there had been plenty of ‘autobiography’ from his chief aide

The PM has seen his party's ratings tumble by four points in a week amid the Dominic Cummings row, while support for Labour has gone up five points, according to a YouGov survey for the Times

The PM has seen his party’s ratings tumble by four points in a week amid the Dominic Cummings row, while support for Labour has gone up five points, according to a YouGov survey for the Times

Pictured: Dominic Cummings

Boris Johnson today

Boris Johnson (right) is facing 90 minutes of scrutiny today, but questions on coronavirus and Dominic Cummings (left) will be restricted to 20 minutes 

In a tetchy round of interviews, Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick (pictured) said people were entitled to exercise 'personal judgement' over the tough lockdown rules

In a tetchy round of interviews, Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick (pictured) said people were entitled to exercise ‘personal judgement’ over the tough lockdown rules

The PM's personal ratings have also been plummeting amid the row over his chief adviser's lockdown activities

The PM’s personal ratings have also been plummeting amid the row over his chief adviser’s lockdown activities

55% of Tory voters say Dominic Cummings should resign over his ‘lockdown breach’ journeys 

A majority of Conservative supporters believe that Dominic Cummings should be fired for breaking coronvirus rules, according to a new poll.  

Research by JL Partners for the Daily Mail found 66 per cent of people think Mr Cummings should leave his post amid the row, including 55 per cent of all Conservative voters. 

A further 63 per cent believe Boris Johnson should sack his right hand man, including 53 per cent of Tory supporters. 

Perhaps even more damning is the statistic that 80 per cent of people and almost three quarters of Conservative supporters agree that Mr Cummings broke the rules he played a key role in drawing up. 

In further bleak news for the Prime Minister, the research suggests that former Labour voters in the ‘Red Wall’ in the North and Midlands have reacted particularly badly to the row.    

At 72 per cent, working class ‘C1/C2’ voters are more likely to think the government is behaving as though ‘it is one rule for them and another rule for everyone else’, while 69 per cent are more likely to say Mr Cummings is not telling the truth than voters overall. 

Amid fierce questioning from MPs at the committee hearing this afternoon, Mr Johnson was asked whether the government’s ‘moral authority’ had been compromised.

‘This has really been going on for several days now – in the media at least,’ he said.

‘I, of course, am deeply sorry for all the hurt and pain and anxiety that people have been going through throughout this period – this country has been going through a frankly most difficult time.

‘We are asking people to do quite exceptionally tough things, separating them from their families.’

Mr Johnson said he would not be adding to his previous comments on Mr Cummings and said the public wanted politicians to focus on ‘uniting our message’ and ‘focusing on their needs’.

Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick was clearly frustrated this morning as he was forced to defend the adviser during a tetchy interview on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme. 

Mr Jenrick said people were entitled to ‘do as Dominic Cummings chose to do’ if they could not find childcare.

‘If there are no other options, if you don’t have ready access to childcare, you can do as Dominic Cummings chose to do,’ he said.

‘The guidelines say you must do your best, but they appreciate that family life poses particular challenges and in order to protect you children you are allowed to exercise degree of personal judgement.’

Mr Jenrick also confirmed that a review into whether fines could be cancelled for thousands of people who travelled distances during lockdown – floated by Health Secretary Matt Hancock last night – was not happening. 

Dozens of Mr Johnson’s own MPs have now joined opposition politicians to demand that Mr Cummings is sacked, but the premier has flatly dismissed the calls. 

And Mr Kruger upped the ante by telling Newsnight that ‘one wing of our party is going collectively bonkers by comparing a four year old’s toilet break to the invasion of Suez’.

‘Appreciate the inbox and press are horrific but the PM is signalling (as he did with the sacking of 21 MPs last year – which appalled the same people in the parly party) that he’s serious.’

Mr Kruger said that Mr Johnson and Mr Cummings together were ‘why we won the 2019 election’.

‘An arguable minor infraction of lockdown rules is totally secondary to that,’ he said.

‘Also, No10 won’t budge, so calling for (Mr Cummings) to go is basically declaring no confidence in PM.’

Mr Johnson will be questioned by senior MPs over the coronavirus crisis on Wednesday as calls for his key adviser to resign continue to grow. 

But MPs on the Liaison Committee will only have a maximum of 20 minutes in a 90-minute session to probe the situation.  

Senior ministers have publicly expressed public support for the defiant adviser but a number of Cabinet members are unhappy at the situation. 

In other developments:

  • The number of jobs being bailed out by the government has hit a new high of 8.4million – plus 2.3million self-employed, according to new figures; 
  • Mr Hancock confirmed there could be ‘local lockdowns’ in future if the test and trace system identifies coronavirus hotspots
  • The government has ruled out cancelling fines for families travelling for childcare purposes during lockdown, despite Mr Hancock saying it would be reviewed;
  • A witness to the alleged lockdown breach by Mr Cummings said he has been interviewed by police
  • Mr Johnson said an independent inquiry into the origins of the coronavirus outbreak needs to take place

Four-fifths of parents would not have travelled for childcare, survey suggests 

More than 80 per cent of parents did not and would not have travelled for emergency childcare during the lockdown, a survey suggests.

Almost a quarter of people said they had been in similar circumstances to the Prime Minister’s chief adviser Dominic Cummings and had chosen to stay put, according to a survey of 965 Mumsnet users with at least one child.

A total of 81 per cent of respondents said they either did not or would not have travelled for emergency childcare, with 23 per cent saying that they had found themselves in a situation where one parent was ill and the other suspected they may become ill too, whilst both were caring for a young child and did not travel for emergency back-up.

Of those surveyed, 90 per cent said that in their view Mr Cummings and his family broke the rules of lockdown.

A third of respondents said that knowing the actions he took, they are more likely to break lockdown rules as they now stand – with three quarters those saying they would most likely do so to visit family or friends. 

The YouGov poll is the latest to demonstrate the scale of public anger about the lockdown issue.  

A poll from JL Partners for the Daily Mail revealed that 66 per cent of people think Cummings should leave his post amid the row, including 55 per cent of all Conservative voters. 

A further 63 per cent believe Boris Johnson should sack his right hand man, including 53 per cent of Tory supporters. 

Perhaps even more damning is the statistic that 80 per cent of people and almost three quarters of Conservative supporters agree that Cummings broke the rules he played a key role in drawing up. 

In further bleak news for the Prime Minister, the research suggests that former Labour voters in the ‘Red Wall’ in the North and Midlands have reacted particularly badly to the row.    

At 72 per cent, working class ‘C1/C2’ voters are more likely to think the government is behaving as though ‘it is one rule for them and another rule for everyone else’, while 69 per cent are more likely to say Cummings is not telling the truth than voters overall.  

More research by YouGov last night found Some 71 per cent believe Mr Cummings broke the strict rules, including 56 per cent of Tory voters and 63 per cent of his fellow Brexiteers.

Almost six in 10 voters believe he should resign, including almost half (46 per cent) of Tories and 52 per cent of Leavers. 

The Prime Minister’s refusal to sack him has also had an impact on his own image.

PM’s sister says Dominic Cummings should apologise 

Rachel Johnson believes Dominic Cummings should apologise and admit he ‘messed up’ over a series of ‘bad decisions’ relating to his lockdown trip to Durham.

Speaking on Good Morning Britain, Boris Johnson‘s younger sister said Brits were ‘unutterably furious,’ with Mr Cummings decision to drive to Durham in March, along with his trip to Barnard Castle to test his eyesight in April.

Ms Johnson told presenter Ben Shepherd: ‘I think that if I had been Cummings, I’d have admitted I’d messed up.’  

She added: ‘I’d have got on the front foot and said, ‘I apologise for all of those who followed my messages, I took bad decisions at the time and I understand how angry it’s made a whole country feel, and please let’s move on because we have bigger fish to fry’.’ 

Mr Johnson had a net approval rating of 19 per cent on Friday before the news of his chief aide’s 260-mile journey to Durham.

But a poll by Savanta ComRes yesterday put Mr Johnson on -1 per cent after he and senior ministers leapt to Mr Cummings’ defence – the lowest of the pandemic.

The Prime Minister now has an approval rating of below that of opposition leader Sir Keir Starmer, and the ratings of other senior ministers including Dominic Raab and Matt Hancock have similarly tumbled.

The row appears to have taken its toll on the Government as a whole, with a Friday approval rating of 20 per cent falling to -2 per cent.  

The Liaison Committee includes William Wragg, who has said it was ‘humiliating and degrading’ to see ministers put out agreed lines in defence of Mr Cummings, and Caroline Nokes, who has informed her party whips there could not be ‘wriggle room’ for some people when it comes to lockdown rules.

Also among those questioning the PM will be Labour chairwoman of the Home Affairs Committee Yvette Cooper, and Tory chairman of the Health Committee Jeremy Hunt – who has said he believes Mr Cummings broke lockdown rules.

Mr Cummings said he had driven to Durham to isolate in a property on his father’s farm because of concerns over care for his four-year-old son if both he and his wife were incapacitated by Covid-19.

Jeremy Hunt’s statement on Dominic Cummings:

In a letter to his constituents calling for Cummings to go, Hunt said: ‘Having watched the broadcast yesterday, my own view is that what he did was a clear breach of the lockdown rules – coming back into work when he had been with his wife who was ill, driving to Durham instead of staying at home and visiting Barnard Castle.

‘These were clearly mistakes – both in terms of the guidance which was crystal clear, and in terms of the signal it would potentially give out to others as someone who was at the centre of government.’ 

But a growing number of Conservative MPs have voiced their frustration over Mr Cummings after he expressed ‘no regrets’ about his trip. 

Scotland Office minister Douglas Ross quit the Government yesterday, saying he could not ‘in good faith’ defend Mr Cummings’ actions.

Tory grandee Sir Roger Gale said the Conservative backbench 1922 Committee should make it clear to the PM his adviser should go.

‘The time I think has come for Mr Cummings to resign or for the PM to dispense of his services,’ the North Thanet MP said.

‘There are people on the 1922 executive who are courageous, and that’s their job.

‘They are elected to tell the PM what he needs to hear, not what he wants to hear.’

Tory voters agree that Mr Cummings broke lockdown rules, according to separate YouGov polling from yesterday

Tory voters agree that Mr Cummings broke lockdown rules, according to separate YouGov polling from yesterday

There is broad support for Mr Cummings quitting across Leave and Tory voters, according to a poll yesterday

There is broad support for Mr Cummings quitting across Leave and Tory voters, according to a poll yesterday

Tory MPs who have called for Dominic Cummings to be sacked

The number of Tory MPs who have now called for Mr Cummings to be sacked after his press conference stands at at least 30. 

They are believed to be: 

Douglas Ross – Scotland minister who has quit

Harriett Baldwin – former Treasury minister

Sir Roger Gale – Tory veteran, MP since 1983 

Martin Vickers – Eurosceptic MP for Cleethorpes

Peter Bone – leading Brexit campaigner in 2016

Craig Whittaker – former Tory whip 

Robert Goodwill – former environment minister

Paul Maynard – ex-transport minister

Mark Pawsey – MP for Rugby for 10 years

Sir Robert Syms –  MP for Poole since 1997 

Tim Loughton – former children’s minister

Jason McCartney – former RAF officer

Peter Aldous – MP for Waveney since 2010

John Stevenson – solicitor and MP for Carlisle

Caroline Nokes – ex-immigration minister

Damian Collins – chair of DCMS select committee

Philip Davies – outspoken backbench MP

Julian Sturdy – farmer and MP for York Outer

Alec Shelbrooke – backed Jeremy Hunt for leadership

Mark Harper – former chief whip

Stephen Hammond – arch Remainer MP for Wimbledon

Simon Hoare – Only an MP since 2015

Andrew Percy – ex-Northern Powerhouse minister

David Warburton – MP for Froome since 2015

Steve Baker – Former ERG chairman and Brexiteer

Andrew Jones – North Yorkshire MP since 2010

Jeremy Wright – Former Attorney General and DCMS Secretary

Bob Neill – Justice Select Committee chair

James Gray – MP for North Wiltshire for 23 years

George Freeman – Former transport minister

Mark Garnier – Wyre Forest MP since 2010 

Jackie Doyle-Price – Thurrock MP and former civil servant 

Stephen Metcalfe – Father-of-two with wife Angela 

Elliot Colburn – Carshalton and Wallington MP since December 

Bob Stewart – Former British Army officer



Boris Johnson’s sister Rachel says Dominic Cummings should apologise and admit he ‘messed up’

Boris Johnson’s sister Rachel says Dominic Cummings should apologise and admit he ‘messed up’ and made ‘bad decisions’ over his lockdown trip to Durham

  • Rachel Johnson told Good Morning Britain’s the situation was ‘very problematic’ 
  • Dominic Cummings has not apologised, saying he acted ‘reasonably and legally’ 
  • At least 40 Tory MPs have called for Mr Cummings to step down from his post  

Rachel Johnson believes Dominic Cummings should apologise and admit he ‘messed up’ over a series of ‘bad decisions’ relating to his lockdown trip to Durham.

Speaking on Good Morning Britain, Boris Johnson‘s younger sister said Brits were ‘unutterably furious,’ with Mr Cummings decision to drive to Durham in March, along with his trip to Barnard Castle to test his eyesight in April.

Ms Johnson told presenter Ben Shepherd: ‘I think that if I had been Cummings, I’d have admitted I’d messed up.’  

He added: ‘I’d have got on the front foot and said, “I apologise for all of those who followed my messages, I took bad decisions at the time and I understand how angry it’s made a whole country feel, and please let’s move on because we have bigger fish to fry”.’ 

The journalist’s older brother has stood by Mr Cummings at recent press briefings since news of the trips came to light last Friday. 

The PM claimed Mr Cummings had acted ‘responsibly, legally and with integrity’ while making a controversial 260-mile trip from London to Durham during lockdown.

Mr Johnson insisted Mr Cummings had ‘followed the instincts of every father’ by driving to his parents’ farm.

Speaking live from Somerset, Ms Johnson said: ‘Obviously, everything is bigger than Dominic Cummings, the pandemic is bigger than Dominic Cummings and as my brother said, nobody has his unconditional support.’ 

Dominic Cummings, seen arriving at Downing street today, has refused to apologise for making the trip to Durham

She added: ‘The reason the country is so unutterably furious and het up about the Cummings’ crisis is because there is an enormous amount of pent up anxiety, anger and fear.

‘The Dominic Cummings affair has released that in a way we didn’t see with Professor Lockdown, Neil Ferguson, even though Professor Lockdown was one of the architects of lockdown himself.’ 

On whether she’s worried it’s damaged her brother, Ms Johnson said: ‘Any family member worries about somebody who’s under so much pressure and taking so many big decisions, equally I’d worry about Theresa May being under so much pressure if she was running this crisis… I think everybody’s worried.’

Mr Cummings has refused to apologise over the row, with Prime Minister Boris Johnson, Heath Secretary Matt Hancock and Cabinet Secretary Michael Gove among a slew of high-profile Conservative figures to publicly back him. 

However, at least 40 Tory MPs have now called on Cummings to quit, while sources say as many as six Cabinet minister privately believe he should leave his post.

Douglas Ross become the first minister to resign over the row yesterday, with the junior Scotland minister saying he could not support Cummings over his constituents who had followed the rules.

Mr Ross said in his resignation letter he could not in ‘good faith’ tell his constituents ‘they were all wrong’ to observe lockdown ‘and one senior adviser to the government was right’. 

Boris Johnson continued to back his top aide at Monday's daily news conference

Boris Johnson continued to back his top aide at Monday’s daily news conference 

Speaking to the press on Monday, Mr Cummings refused to apologise, saying he felt he acted ‘reasonably and legally’ to protect his family during the pandemic.

Mr Cummings conceded that ‘reasonable people may well disagree’ with his chosen course of action but he was resolute in his belief that he had acted in an appropriate manner and had not broken the rules.

He insisted ‘I don’t think there is one rule for me and one rule for other people’ and blamed public anger at media reports ‘that have not been true’.



Two households CAN meet from next week but larger family and friend ‘bubble’ reunions are delayed

Friends and family could be allowed to meet up outdoors from next week under Government plans to relax lockdown further and allow two households to socialise together. 

Ministers are said to have parked plans for households to be allowed to meet up in ‘bubbles’ in which physical contact would be permitted after expert modelling suggested it could lead to a spike in coronavirus

They are instead considering a plan which would allow people to see more of their loved ones in person but with social distancing still in place, meaning hugs and handshakes would remain banned. 

However, the scheme, which could be rolled out from June 1 at the start of Boris Johnson‘s second phase of easing, could force households to nominate the friends or family they want to be allowed to see. 

Limiting interactions to just two households would likely result in many people having to make difficult choices about who to nominate. 

Boris Johnson, pictured in Downing Street on May 25, wants to begin the second phase of lockdown easing from June 1 

Ministers are believed to be considering plans which would allow two households to meet up outdoors. Pictured are people enjoying the sunshine in east London on May 26

Ministers are believed to be considering plans which would allow two households to meet up outdoors. Pictured are people enjoying the sunshine in east London on May 26

Current lockdown rules dictate that you can meet up with one other person from outside your household outdoors as long as you remain two metres apart.

The new plan, first reported by The Times, would allow two households to link up. This would potentially allow people to see their parents at the same time, for example, something which the existing restrictions prohibit. 

It could also see people given the green light to invite their partnered household to visit them in a private garden. 

However, there is likely to be new guidance issued setting out how guests should walk through the house if that is the only route to the garden.

Coronavirus is believed to spread more easily indoors than outdoors and there are concerns that the garden provision could be abused, with people ending up moving inside during a gathering. 

The plan was reportedly discussed at a meeting of the Cabinet on Monday this week. Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab is said to have expressed concerns that the two households plan could become seen as a ‘barbecue clause’.  

The ‘bubble’ plan was originally due to be included in the first wave of lockdown easing announced by the PM but it was held back after scientists said the potential impact needed to be better understood. 

New expert modelling produced by the Government’s Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE) is believed to have shown that allowing households to merge in a ‘bubble’ could lead to a fresh outbreak and is not possible at the moment. 

Ministers are now pursuing a more targeted approach which they hope will help people who have been left isolated during the crisis. 

A potential requirement for households to nominate the other household they want to be linked to could cause major headaches.  

If the scheme is restricted to only two households it could force parents to choose which of their adult children they meet up with. 

It is also unclear how such a scheme could work in house share situations where people may have different groups of friends. 

Experts have warned that the Government’s contact tracing operation must be in place before any further easing of lockdown measures takes place. 

It is now thought the initiative will go live tomorrow, allowing the PM to go ahead with second phase changes like the phased reopening of primary schools and non-essential shops.

The contact tracing scheme will see people who have come into contact with someone for more than 15 minutes who has subsequently tested positive for the disease being tracked down and told to self-isolate for 14 days. 

It is hoped this would then stop a second wave by breaking the chain of transmission early. 

Ministers have already stressed that the contact tracing programme will only work if people told to isolate actually do it.  

Health Secretary Matt Hancock told the daily Downing Street press conference last night that people have a ‘civic duty’ to remove themselves from society if they are asked to do so by the programme. 

‘People are doing this, they are not doing it for me, people are doing this for their loved ones,’ he said. 

‘If you are phoned up and asked to self-isolate even if you are perfectly healthy because you have been in close contact with somebody who has tested positive, it is your civic duty to then self-isolate for yourself, for your community, for your family. 

‘We all need to come together to do this and that will then in turn allow us to lift some of the measures that currently are blanket measures across the whole of society and have to be blanket measures until we have the NHS test and trace system up and running and in place.’



TripAdvisor SUSPENDS reviews for Barnard Castle after page floods with spoof Dominic Cummings posts

TripAdvisor has suspended all reviews for Barnard Castle after its page was flooded with spoof recommendations mocking Dominic Cummings claim he drove to the town to test his eyesight.

Boris Johnson‘s chief adviser told journalists on Monday how he made a 60-mile round trip from his parents farm in Durham to the market town, to see if he was ready for a 260-mile trip back to London.

The claim has catapulted the town into the limelight, with spoof reviews flooding in on TripAdvisor, while other memes have compared the drive to a trip to Specsavers.

One ‘reviewer’ wrote: ‘Such a lovely place to go, can’t believe I saw Dominic Cummings there!’ Another said the market town was ‘Better than Specsavers’.

Calling themselves ‘bid Dominic C’ another reviewer joked ‘Think I got away with it,’ while another reviewer said the market town was a ‘great place for a test drive’. 

After being inundated with fake reviews, the holiday review site added this message to Barnard Castle’s page: ‘Due to a recent event that has attracted media attention and has caused an influx of review submissions that do not describe a first-hand experience, we have temporarily suspended publishing new reviews for this listing. 

‘If you’ve had a firsthand experience at this property, please check back soon – we’re looking forward to receiving your review!’  

All of the fake reviews appear to have been removed from the website, the with last review now dating back to March – a month before Mr Cummings’ test drive. 

Mr Cummings told journalists his family did not visit the the actual castle during the trip to the market town, but did walk to the river bank after he felt ‘a bit sick’

Speaking to journalists on Monday, Mr Cummings explained: ‘On Sunday, April 12, 15 days after I had first displayed symptoms, I decided to return to work.

‘My wife was very worried, particularly given my eyesight seemed to have been affected by the disease. 

‘She didn’t want to risk a nearly 300-mile drive with our child, given how ill I had been. 

‘We agreed that we should go for a short drive to see if I could drive safely. 

‘We drove for roughly half an hour and ended up on the outskirts of Barnard Castle town. We did not visit the castle. 

‘We did not walk around the town. We parked by a river. My wife and I discussed the situation. 

‘We agreed that I could drive safely, and we should turn around and go home. 

‘I felt a bit sick. We walked about 10 to 15 metres from the car to the river bank nearby.’ 

Since Mr Cummings press briefing Twitter users have compared his journey to a trip to Specsavers.

One post read: ‘Should have gone to Barnard Castle’, while several others shared pictures of cars that have driven into the opticians various shopfronts.

Speaking yesterday, Cabinet Office minister Michael Gove said that he has previously driven to test his eyesight.

Asked by LBC presenter Nick Ferrari if he would have made the 60-mile round trip he said: ‘I have, on occasions in the past, driven with my wife in order to make sure, what’s the right way of putting it.’ 

He then added that ‘people who know me would know that I am not an authority on driving’ and said he took seven attempts to pass his driving test.

Section 96 of the Road Traffic Act 1988 states that: ‘If a person drives a motor vehicle on a road while his eyesight is such … that he cannot comply with any requirement as to eyesight … for the purposes of tests of competence to drive, he is guilty of an offence.’

Dominic Cummings, arriving in Downing Street today, told journalists he drove 'roughly half an hour,' from his parents home to Barnard Castle in April

Dominic Cummings, arriving in Downing Street today, told journalists he drove ‘roughly half an hour,’ from his parents home to Barnard Castle in April

Ex-Greater Manchester Police chief constable Sir Peter Fahy said today the PM’s adviser may have broken the Highway Code.

The former cop said the adviser would have been turned back if he was caught going between London and Durham. 

Sir Peter said officers were ‘frustrated’ by the Cummings case, adding it may hinder policy with the rules ‘now very confused’.

He told Radio 4’s Today programme: ‘Clearly, number one, that’s ill-advised as a means of testing your eyesight as to whether you’re fit to drive, but again it’s hard to see – unless there’s some justification that that was to take daily exercise – how that was justified.’

Asked if it was a criminal offence, Sir Peter replied: ‘It certainly appears to be against the Highway Code. It’s not the way to test your eyesight, and put potentially other people in danger.’



Tory civil war over Dominic Cummings rages as poll ratings dive

The Tory civil war over Dominic Cummings escalated again today as an MP accused his colleagues of ‘declaring no confidence’ in Boris Johnson by demanding his chief adviser quits.

Devizes MP Danny Kruger accused ‘one wing’ of the party of ‘going bonkers’ and comparing the alleged lockdown breach to ‘the invasion of Suez’.

But in a sign of the depth of the devastating rift, former health secretary Jeremy Hunt has insisted Mr Cummings ‘clearly’ did break the rules.   

The bruising clashes came as the Tories saw their poll lead slashed by nine points in a week – thought to be the biggest drop in a decade.

The PM has seen his party’s ratings tumble by four points amid the row, while support for Labour has gone up five points, according to a YouGov survey for the Times.

The findings will cause fresh alarm in Downing Street as they desperately try to move on from the controversy.

But there is little prospect of respite, as Mr Johnson faces a grilling from senior MPs on the issue this afternoon.  

The PM has seen his party’s ratings tumble by four points in a week amid the Dominic Cummings row, while support for Labour has gone up five points, according to a YouGov survey for the Times

Pictured: Dominic Cummings

Pictured: Boris Johnson

Boris Johnson (right) is facing 90 minutes of scrutiny today, but questions on coronavirus and Dominic Cummings (left) will be restricted to 20 minutes 

55% of Tory voters say Dominic Cummings should resign over his ‘lockdown breach’ journeys 

A majority of Conservative supporters believe that Dominic Cummings should be fired for breaking coronvirus rules, according to a new poll. 

The Prime Minister’s most trusted aide is under intense pressure for driving 260 miles from London to Durham with his family at the height of lockdown and has faced calls from across the political spectrum to resign.  

Now, a poll from JL Partners for the Daily Mail has revealed that 66 per cent of people think Cummings should leave his post amid the row, including 55 per cent of all Conservative voters. 

A further 63 per cent believe Boris Johnson should sack his right hand man, including 53 per cent of Tory supporters. 

Perhaps even more damning is the statistic that 80 per cent of people and almost three quarters of Conservative supporters agree that Cummings broke the rules he played a key role in drawing up. 

In further bleak news for the Prime Minister, the research suggests that former Labour voters in the ‘Red Wall’ in the North and Midlands have reacted particularly badly to the row.    

At 72 per cent, working class ‘C1/C2’ voters are more likely to think the government is behaving as though ‘it is one rule for them and another rule for everyone else’, while 69 per cent are more likely to say Cummings is not telling the truth than voters overall.

The new survey comes after Mr Johnson’s personal approval rating plummeted from 19 per cent to minus one per cent in days.    

Dozens of Mr Johnson’s own MPs have now joined opposition politicians to demand that Mr Cummings is sacked, but the premier has flatly dismissed the calls. 

And Mr Kruger upped the ante by telling Newsnight that ‘one wing of our party is going collectively bonkers by comparing a four year old’s toilet break to the invasion of Suez’.

‘Appreciate the inbox and press are horrific but the PM is signalling (as he did with the sacking of 21 MPs last year – which appalled the same people in the parly party) that he’s serious.’

Mr Kruger said that Mr Johnson and Mr Cummings together were ‘why we won the 2019 election’.

‘An arguable minor infraction of lockdown rules is totally secondary to that,’ he said.

‘Also, No10 won’t budge, so calling for (Mr Cummings) to go is basically declaring no confidence in PM.’

Mr Johnson will be questioned by senior MPs over the coronavirus crisis on Wednesday as calls for his key adviser to resign continue to grow. 

But MPs on the Liaison Committee will only have a maximum of 20 minutes in a 90-minute session to probe the situation.  

Senior ministers have publicly expressed public support for the defiant adviser but a number of Cabinet members are unhappy at the situation.

Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick was clearly frustrated this morning as he was forced to defend the adviser during a tetchy interview on BBC Radio 4’s Today.

And he also confirmed that a review into whether fines could be cancelled for thousands of people who travelled distances during lockdown – floated by Health Secretary Matt Hancock last night – was not happening. 

In other developments:

  • Mr Hancock confirmed there could be ‘local lockdowns’ in future if the test and trace system identifies coronavirus hotspots
  • Mr Hancock also pledged to speak to the Treasury about whether fines imposed on families travelling for childcare purposes during lockdown should be reviewed in light of the Cummings controversy
  • A witness to the alleged lockdown breach by Mr Cummings said he has been interviewed by police
  • Mr Johnson said an independent inquiry into the origins of the coronavirus outbreak needs to take place

A separate poll has provided more worries for Mr Johnson, with a majority of Conservative supporters saying Mr Cummings should be fired for breaking coronavirus rules. 

A poll from JL Partners for the Daily Mail revealed that 66 per cent of people think Cummings should leave his post amid the row, including 55 per cent of all Conservative voters. 

A further 63 per cent believe Boris Johnson should sack his right hand man, including 53 per cent of Tory supporters. 

Perhaps even more damning is the statistic that 80 per cent of people and almost three quarters of Conservative supporters agree that Cummings broke the rules he played a key role in drawing up. 

In further bleak news for the Prime Minister, the research suggests that former Labour voters in the ‘Red Wall’ in the North and Midlands have reacted particularly badly to the row.    

At 72 per cent, working class ‘C1/C2’ voters are more likely to think the government is behaving as though ‘it is one rule for them and another rule for everyone else’, while 69 per cent are more likely to say Cummings is not telling the truth than voters overall.

The new survey comes after Mr Johnson’s personal approval rating plummeted from 19 per cent to minus one per cent in days.    

The Liaison Committee includes William Wragg, who has said it was ‘humiliating and degrading’ to see ministers put out agreed lines in defence of Mr Cummings, and Caroline Nokes, who has informed her party whips there could not be ‘wriggle room’ for some people when it comes to lockdown rules.

Also among those questioning the PM will be Labour chairwoman of the Home Affairs Committee Yvette Cooper, and Tory chairman of the Health Committee Jeremy Hunt – who has said he believes Mr Cummings broke lockdown rules.

Mr Cummings said he had driven to Durham to isolate in a property on his father’s farm because of concerns over care for his four-year-old son if both he and his wife were incapacitated by Covid-19.

Jeremy Hunt’s statement on Dominic Cummings:

In a letter to his constituents calling for Cummings to go, Hunt said: ‘Having watched the broadcast yesterday, my own view is that what he did was a clear breach of the lockdown rules – coming back into work when he had been with his wife who was ill, driving to Durham instead of staying at home and visiting Barnard Castle.

‘These were clearly mistakes – both in terms of the guidance which was crystal clear, and in terms of the signal it would potentially give out to others as someone who was at the centre of government.’ 

But a growing number of Conservative MPs have voiced their frustration over Mr Cummings after he expressed ‘no regrets’ about his trip. 

Scotland Office minister Douglas Ross quit the Government yesterday, saying he could not ‘in good faith’ defend Mr Cummings’ actions.

Tory grandee Sir Roger Gale said the Conservative backbench 1922 Committee should make it clear to the PM his adviser should go.

‘The time I think has come for Mr Cummings to resign or for the PM to dispense of his services,’ the North Thanet MP said.

‘There are people on the 1922 executive who are courageous, and that’s their job.

‘They are elected to tell the PM what he needs to hear, not what he wants to hear.’

The PM's personal ratings have also been plummeting amid the row over his chief adviser's lockdown activities

The PM’s personal ratings have also been plummeting amid the row over his chief adviser’s lockdown activities