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Johnson gestures towards an apology on behalf of Cummings but refuses to hold inquiry into lockdown breach

BORIS JOHNSON was grilled by the Commons Liaison Committee today over his handling of the coronavirus outbreak and the reckless actions of his senior adviser Dominic Cummings.

The PM rejected calls for Mr Cummings to face an inquiry over his lockdown-breaking road trip from London to Durham on 27 March.

Mr Cummings claimed that he, his wife and child made the trip to his family as they needed childcare — fearing that they would get too sick with suspected coronavirus to look after their four-year-old son.

The story behind the journey has changed numerous times since it was described by his wife, Mary Wakefield, in The Spectator — including Mr Cummings’s claim that he took another trip to test his potentially impaired eyesight.

Scores of MPs from the Conservative Party, as well as from opposition parties, have called on the PM to sack Mr Cummings — which he has refused to do, brazenly claiming the aide acted “legally and with integrity.”

On the subject of an inquiry, Mr Johnson told the committee, which is the only one allowed to question the PM: “Quite frankly I’m not certain — right now — that an inquiry into that matter is a very good use of official time.

“We are working flat out on coronavirus.”

He was asked by committee chairman and Tory MP Sir Bernard Jenkin whether the government’s “moral authority” had been undermined by the Cummings row.

Mr Johnson gestured towards an apology on behalf of Mr Cummings, who did not apologise or admit he had done anything wrong during a lengthy press conference at Downing Street on Monday.

“This has really been going on for several days now — in the media at least,” Mr Johnson said.

“I, of course, am deeply sorry for all the hurt and pain and anxiety that people have been going through throughout this period — this country has been going through a frankly most difficult time.

“We are asking people to do quite exceptionally tough things, separating them from their families.”

But he denied that the public is now less likely to abide by restrictions because of Mr Cummings’s actions.

Mr Johnson claimed that he had seen evidence to prove that some of the allegations made against Mr Cummings were false and said that everyone should now “move on” from the subject.

But when asked by Labour MP Meg Hillier whether the Cabinet Secretary should also see that evidence, the PM said: “I think actually that it would not be doing my job if I were now to shuffle this problem into the hands of officials who, believe me, Meg, are — as I think the public would want — working flat out to deal with coronavirus…

“I totally understand public indignation, I totally understand that, but I do think that as I understand things, and I’ve said what I've said about the whole business, I think it would be much better if we could now move on and focus on the next steps.”


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