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British Prime Minister Johnson risks party wrath to support an assistant who ignored the rules for coronavirus locking

LONDON (REUTERS) – British Prime Minister Boris Johnson supported his senior adviser Dominic Cummings on Sunday (May 24), despite calls from his own conservative party to cancel the assistant for driving 400 km during the coronavirus shutdown.

Cummings, architect of the 2016 campaign to leave the EU, came under pressure when newspapers reported traveling from London to Northern England in March when his wife was ill with Covid-19 symptoms during a nationwide closing.

With Johnson’s words that he had acted with integrity, Cummings was safe, at least for the time being. But the quarrel in the ruling conservatives seems to boom.

“I had extensive personal conversations with Dominic Cummings,” Johnson told a news conference, saying that his assistant had followed “every father’s instincts” when traveling with his wife for childcare assistance while he was isolating.

“I believe he acted responsibly and legally and with integrity in every way.”

Opposition Labor party leader Keir Starmer described Johnson’s decision not to take action against Cummings as “an affront to the sacrifices of the British people.”

“This was a test from the Prime Minister and he failed,” Starmer said in a statement.

Cummings is divisive and is viewed by allies and enemies as Johnson’s most important and influential strategist.

Over the weekend, Downing Street and high ministers all supported him, an early signal of their reluctance to yield to the demands of several conservatives, who said they had received angry messages from voters during the trips.

Johnson’s office said Cummings made the 400 km journey after his wife had symptoms, to ensure that his 4-year-old son could be well looked after by family members if he also fell ill.

The papers have since reported that Cummings was seen on other occasions in Northern England. The government has denied this, and Johnson has not replied to whether he was aware of the extra trips.

The trips have caused anger among the millions who have adhered to the government’s coronavirus guidelines that a person who shows symptoms must stay at home for seven days, while the rest of that person’s household must do the same for 14 days.

Johnson said he understood “why people can feel so confused,” but “really seeing what happened, I really think most people will understand what he was doing.”

Some conservatives broke ranks on Sunday to let Cummings go. Many said they were inundated with reports of enraged voters who had followed the rules under great personal difficulties.

“As much as I despise any pitchfork-led social media lawsuit, I am not convinced of the Prime Minister’s defense of Cummings,” tweeted conservative legislator David Warburton.

A prominent conservative activist, Tim Montgomerie, said on Twitter, “Tonight I am really ashamed that I once supported Boris Johnson for a senior position.”

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