The British Prime Minister’s chief adviser Dominic Cummings says he does not regret travelling 260 miles form London to Durham during the UK lockdown and that he will resign his position despite repeated calls from the public, media and from many members of the conservative party including 20 MPs.
He says what he did was reasonable under the circumstances when he thought he and his wife wouldn’t be able to look after their child.
He says it was arguable a mistake not to call the Prime Minister to tell him what he was doing.
Mr Cummings told a press conference he believed he was in an exceptional situation;
The PM’s special adviser read from a statement, saying he gave a full account to the prime minister for his actions, but says the PM asked him to do it.
“I know that millions of people have been suffering and thousands have died,” he says.
“In retrospect, I should have made this statement earlier.”
Mr Cummings confirms he did not consult the prime minister before travelling to County Durham.
“I did not ask the prime minister about the decision, he was ill himself and he had huge problems to deal with,” he says.
“I thought that I would speak to him when the situation clarified in the coming days,” he adds – regarding his own symptoms and whether or not he could get tested.
He adds that “arguably this was a mistake” and that he understands some may say he should have spoken to the PM.
Mr Cummings says that stories in the media had suggested he opposed lockdown – but that he had “argued for it”.
He says stories in the media had “created a very bad atmosphere around my home” – making it a “target – and that he worried about “the possibility of leaving my wife and child at home all day … while I worked at No 10”.
He adds that driving to the “isolated cottage” in County Durham – which he says does not have neighbours in the “normal sense – was the “best thing to do”.
Mr. Cummings was asked if he regretted his actions. He does not.
“I think what I did was actually reasonable in these circumstances,” says Mr Cummings.
He says “in terms of the rules”, dealing with small children was an “exceptional circumstance”.
“The way that I dealt with it was the least risk to everybody concerned,” he adds.
Dominic Cummings says he “stayed away” from his parents while in Durham and that he has been with his wife since they returned to London.
“I’m not exactly sure where the boundaries of London are, but as far as I’m aware the only time I’ve left London since Tuesday, 14 April, was to go to Chequers,” he says.
The PM’s top aide was pushed again about why he isn’t resigning.
“A lot of that anger is based on reports in the media that have not been true,”
He adds that it is “extremely regrettable, but the media who were reporting these things were told they were wrong and reported them anyway”.
Mr Cummings says it has “caused a lot of anger” and “people have shouted at me in the street”.
But on the issue of the need to ask the PM about whether he should have gone, he says Boris Johnson had “a lot on his plate” and “the honest truth about my job is there are endless problems all day long”, so he can’t check everything.
“Maybe I should have done. The PM’s time is just about the most valuable commodity in the government.”
Cummings clarifies that he has not offered to resign over his actions.
“I have not offered to resign,” he said. “I have not considered it.”