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26 May, 2020 08:44

Cummings ‘acted reasonably’ driving sick across country, his ally Gove insists amid national fury

Cummings ‘acted reasonably’ driving sick across country, his ally Gove insists amid national fury

Dominic Cummings is a “man of honor and integrity” who “thinks he did the right thing”, his long-time ally Michael Gove said amid national outrage over the PM’s aide’s cross-country trip during lockdown.

Gove, the Minister for the Cabinet Office under Prime Minister Boris Johnson, is among prominent Tory figures circling the wagons around their embattled colleague. On Tuesday morning, he appeared on the BBC Breakfast television program to give a full-throated endorsement of Cummings’ character and the explanations he offered about his trip.

“He is a man of honor and integrity,” he said. “As people will have had the chance to hear yesterday, they’ll know from his own account that he was acting in a way which sought to safeguard his family [and] sought to limit – indeed, reduce – the risk of infection to anyone else.”

The 264-mile trip that Cummings made to his parents’ estate in Durham with his wife and four-year-old son sparked outrage when it was reported by the media last week. The journey was both undertaken amid a national Covid-19 lockdown and while the PM’s adviser was exhibiting symptoms of coronavirus. His decision to make it unleashed an avalanche of accusations of hypocrisy, and calls for his resignation from either side of the political aisle.

Gove insisted Cummings “didn’t break the letter” of the social distancing guidelines issued by the government and called on the British people to judge his actions for themselves. Some may well believe Cummings’ behavior was wrong, but he views what he did as reasonable, he said.

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“Dominic completely understands the sense of concern people have felt as this story broke,” he told the BBC. “Most people will understand that he was under pressure and sought to put the health of his wife and son first.”

On Monday, an unapologetic Cummings gave a detailed account of his movements, which included a short drive to the town of Barnard Castle to check if he had recovered sufficiently from his illness to be able to drive safely back to London.

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