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Wed, 8 July 2020

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Dominic Cummings row: Minister says families should 'try their best' to follow lockdown rules

Dominic Cummings row: Minister says families should 'try their best' to follow lockdown rules

Robert Jenrick has asked families to "try your best" to follow the lockdown rules

2 min read

Families should "try their best" to follow the lockdown rules following the row over Dominic Cummings' trip to Durham, a minister has said.

Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick said families struggling to find childcare during the pandemic were free to "do as Dominic Cummings chose to do" as he urged the public to "move on" from the row.

His comments come amid growing anger from opposition parties and dozens of Tory MPs who warned ministers their defence of the senior aide risked undermining social distancing guidelines.

But speaking to the BBC's Today programme, the cabinet minister insisted the rules were sympathetic to the "particular challenges" facing those with children, as he said families should "try your best" to follow the guidelines.

"The guidelines themselves say that if you have children they appreciate the challenges posed to families and you should try your best to follow the guidelines and do what is right to protect your children," he said.

"If there are no other options, if you do not have ready access to child care then you can do as Dominic Cummings chose to do.

"The guidelines say that you must do your best, but they appreciate that family life poses particular challenges, and in order to protect children you are able to exercise a degree of personal judgement and I think that is a reasonable way forward."

His comments came as new polling showed support for Boris Johnson and his party were falling as a result of the row, with a majority of the public believe Mr Cummings broke the rules.

But the cabinet minister insisted the top aide would not be sacked, saying: "Dominic Cummings has set out his explanation of events...The Prime Minister believes his explanation is reasonable and within the law."

Meanwhile, Mr Jenrick also defended Health Secretary Matt Hancock after he appeared to suggest at Tuesday's Downing Street briefing that fines imposed on those travelling to find child care would be reviewed in the wake of the row.

He said: "[Mr Hancock] was being questioned in the moment by a member of the public and it was looked into and concluded that the right thing to do is leave this at the discretion of the police."

And the cabinet minister confirmed the Government were not planning a "formal review" of the rules, adding: "We are not going to interfere with the police's decision making here.

"If you've broken the guidelines then it is a matter for the police to decide whether they are going to impose a fine on you."

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