Sun, 16 May 2021

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By Josh Martin
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Boris Johnson says inquiry into Dominic Cummings lockdown row ‘not a good use of official time’

Boris Johnson says inquiry into Dominic Cummings lockdown row ‘not a good use of official time’

Dominic Cummings has faced a storm of criticism over his decision to travel to Durham.

3 min read

Boris Johnson has dismissed calls from MPs for an inquiry into his senior adviser’s trip to Durham during the coronavirus lockdown.

In his first appearance in front of the Liaison Committee, the Prime Minister said that it was time to “move on” from the row surrounding Dominic Cummings.

There have been growing cross-party calls for Mr Cummings' resignation after it was revealed he had driven his family more than 250 miles from London to the north-east of England during the lockdown. 

Responding to a question from committee chair Bernard Jenkin, the PM said: “We’ve had a huge amount of exegesis, of discussion of what happened in the life of my adviser between the 27th March and the 14th of April.

“And quite frankly, I’m not certain right now that an inquiry into that matter is a very good use of official time.”

He also refused to publish the evidence provided by Mr Cummings to justify his trip, telling Labour’s Meg Hillier that the Government was “working flat out” on tackling coronavirus.

“I think, actually, it would not be doing my job if I were now to shuffle this problem into the hands of officials,” he said. 

And, when asked by SNP MP Pete Wishart if he would apologise on Mr Cummings behalf, the Prime Minister insisted that it was time to “move on” from the row.

He said: “I am sorry for the pain, as I say, the anguish and the heartbreak of so many people in this country... And of course, we all understand that and I share that. 

“All I’m saying to you is that I think what we need to do now as politicians, as leaders, if we possibly can, is to set aside this row… and to move on.”

The Prime Minister has so far resisted calls to sack his most senior adviser, despite concern from MPs - including those in his own party- that his actions have undermined the government’s public health message.

But Mr Johnson also rejected those claims concerns, saying that he “didn’t accept” that Mr Cummings actions would lead to the public breaking the rules.

Pressed on the issue by Tory MP Simon Hoare, the Prime Minister said people had “responded with fantastic responsibility” so far.

And he added: “Just suppose for a second you were right, which I don’t accept, all the more reason now for us to be consistent and clear in our message. 

“Driving those key messages, particularly about washing your hands, maintaining social distance, isolating if you have symptoms - all those things will continue to be absolutely vital as we move into the next phase.”

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