UK PM adviser Cummings won't resign

UK advisor Dominic Cummings has rejected calls to resign for travelling during lockdown measures.
UK advisor Dominic Cummings has rejected calls to resign for travelling during lockdown measures.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson's senior adviser Dominic Cummings, who drove 400km to northern England while coronavirus lockdown measures were in place, will not resign, Transport Minister Grant Shapps says.

"Is he going to resign?" BBC presenter Andrew Marr asked during an interview. "No," said Shapps on Sunday.

Several lawmakers from Johnson's Conservative Party called on Sunday morning for Cummings to quit.

Cummings, who masterminded the 2016 campaign to leave the European Union, travelled from London to Durham in late March while his wife showed COVID-19 symptoms, when measures to combat the spread of the coronavirus were in place.

Johnson had ordered Britons to mostly stay at home and shut down large parts of the economy to curb the outbreak which has left the United Kingdom with one of the world's highest official death tolls.

Johnson's office said Cummings made the journey to ensure his four-year-old son could be properly cared for as his wife was ill with COVID-19 and there was a "high likelihood" that Cummings would himself become unwell.

A number of cabinet ministers and the attorney general have also said that the journey was justified.

However, high profile Brexit campaigner Steve Baker, was the first of a number of Conservative lawmakers who said Johnson's adviser should now quit.

"I just see this rattling on now for day after day, wasting the public's time, consuming political capital and diverting from the real issues we need to deal with," he told Sky News. "No one is indispensable."

Baker has long opposed Cummings taking a role in Downing Street.

Opposition politicians have called for Cummings, who wields huge influence on the government, to go, saying his actions were hypocritical at a time when millions of Britons were staying in their homes.

The number of confirmed UK deaths from COVID-19 has reached 36,675, the government said on Saturday.

The Daily Mirror newspaper on Saturday reported that the advisor made a second trip from London during the lockdown and was spotted near Durham on April 19, days after returning to London from his first trip.

Johnson's Downing Street office described the newspaper reports as "false allegations".

Australian Associated Press