UK coronavirus live: Dominic Cummings to give public statement at 4pm

By Jessica Murray (now) and Sarah Marsh (earlier)

10:20

Dominic Cummings is to give a statement about accusations he broke the lockdown, as at least 20 Conservative MPs urged Boris Johnson to make him quit or apologise.

In an unprecedented move for a senior political adviser, Cummings is to address criticism of his actions and take questions on Monday afternoon, following an outpouring of anger among the public, MPs, bishops, police, scientists and medics.

The prime minister backed his senior aide at a defiant press conference on Sunday, saying it had been within the rules for Cummings to drive his family 264 miles to his parents’ estate in Durham while his wife was suffering from coronavirus symptoms.

Anger among Conservative MPs is boiling over, however, and members of the public have been sending furious emails pointing out the sacrifices they have made during the lockdown.

Downing Street is still to answer questions, including whether Cummings stopped at any service stations en route to Durham, potentially infecting other travellers when the whole family should have been in isolation, and whether he later made a 30-mile day trip from Durham to Barnard Castle with his family at a time when non-essential journeys were banned.

10:15

When the Guardian/Observer and Mirror published fresh claims on Saturday night about Dominic Cummings potentially breaching lockdown rules, Downing Street refused to respond in detail and instead dismissed the outlets as politically motivated “campaigning newspapers”.

It is less clear whether No 10 holds the same dismissive view about the Conservative-supporting Daily Mail, which on Monday used a front-page editorial to demand Cummings is sacked and ran the story across 10 pages of furious coverage.

Under the headline “What planet are they on?”, the newspaper’s editorial said Cummings “violated the spirit and letter of the lockdown ... giving every selfish person a licence to play fast and loose with public health”.

Front Pages Today (@ukpapers)

What Planet Are They On? Boris brazenly backs No 10 svengali who flouted PM's own strict lockdown rules .... - https://t.co/eEmiHWEpyY @JasonGroves1#frontpagestoday #UK #DailyMail #buyapaper 🗞 pic.twitter.com/z6JTpEcaKD

May 25, 2020

Just months after enthusiastically cheering Boris Johnson to victory in the general election, the Mail directly attacked the prime minister for sticking by his chief aide: “Neither man has displayed a scintilla of contrition for this breach of trust. Do they think we are fools? For the good of the government and the nation, Mr Cummings must resign. Or the prime minister must sack him. No ifs, no buts.”

In the process the newspaper set up a test of its power in the face of a government that has repeatedly made clear its disdain for traditional media outlets. It also serves as a check on whether print newspaper front pages still hold sway in an era of declining circulations and whether the Mail has broken the old newspaper editor’s mantra that you should never launch a campaign that you are likely to lose.

10:05

As reviews for Barnard Castle go, “I drove 260 miles, broke a pandemic-enforced nationwide lockdown that I personally helped introduce, risked the health of my extended family, rocked the stability of my own career, and torpedoed the reputation of both myself and the actual prime minister of the United Kingdom just to go there and see the Silver Swan automaton” takes some beating.

I have never wanted to see a small Teesdale market town so much in my squalid little life. I cannot imagine the precious selection of keychains the gift shops there must have. I would risk it all for Barnard Castle.

If you’ve somehow missed all this (imagine I am gesturing weakly at Dominic Cummings’s house, where a crowd of agitated neighbours, un-socially distanced TV journalists and – obviously, always – some sort of Led By Donkeys stunt van, are all assembled in waiting), then the headline news right now is: a joint investigation by the Guardian and the Daily Mirror found that Dominic Cummings, that Gollum-but-if-he-dressed-from-the-assorted-bags-in-the-backroom-of-a-charity-shop one from the government, broke lockdown in the hardest way possible by driving from London to Durham when his wife had coronavirus.

Then – after a perfunctory WhatsApp-coordinated round of Tory ministers tweeting their “it wasn’t that bad, really” defences of the senior adviser – a further claim: once in Durham, as coronavirus infections crested nationwide, Cummings zigged out on a nice little day trip to the Castle, then back to London, then allegedly back again to Durham, where an eyewitness says they saw him among some woodlands calling the bluebells there “lovely”. Ladies and gentlemen, we got him?

Updated

09:53

Updated

09:46

Durham police confirm more complaints about Cummings

Updated

09:37

Updated

09:24

Updated

09:18

Updated

09:12

Hello everyone. I am back on the Guardian’s live feed and covering while Jessica Murray takes a lunch break. Please get in touch to share your news tips and any other information.

A lot of you have sent stories of how you have been surviving lockdown and following the rules amid difficult situations. I have had so many emails for this, and appreciate all the readers who got in touch. Unfortunately, I am afraid I cannot reply to you all but we’ve now written this story up. Thanks for all the contributions.


Twitter: @sloumarsh
Instagram: sarah_marsh_journalist
Email: sarah.marsh@theguardian.com

08:55

Updated

08:36

Updated

08:12

Updated

08:07

Updated

07:44

Dominic Cummings to give public statement later today

Updated

07:39

Updated

07:23

Updated