Boris Johnson faces Tory rebellion as reports suggest three-quarters of Tory MPs refuse to defend senior aide

Boris Johnson in the House of Commons. Photograph: Jessica Taylor/UK Parliament.

Boris Johnson in the House of Commons. Photograph: Jessica Taylor/UK Parliament. - Credit: Archant

Boris Johnson is facing another Tory rebellion after more than 30 Conservative MPs publicly called on Dominic Cummings' to go.

Senior ministers and backbenchers have called for Johnson's top political advisor to be ousted from Downing Street after he allegedly broke lockdown rules to travel to Durham in March.

Those appealing for Cummings to go include Tory veteran Roger Gale, Hazel Grove MP William Wragg, who called his government's public defence of the actions 'humiliating and degrading', and Caroline Nokes, who informed party whips there should not be 'wriggle room' for some people when it came to lockdown rules.

Joining the chorus of calls are Tory MP for Rugby, Mark Pawsey, and former assistant Whip Craig Whittaker, who told Newsnight that Cummings' position had become 'untenable', adding: 'I respect he is taking a decision but what I can't get my head around is why he can't take responsibility for that decision.'

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It is understood that up to six cabinet minister have also privately called for Cummings' sacking, The Telegraph reports. Meanwhile, The Sun says that as many as 75% of Conservative MPs are refusing to pledge their support with that figure set to rise.

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Some - such as North West Durham MP Richard Holden - have issued statements distancing themselves from the Brexiteer.

He was joined by the MPs of Bishop Auckland and Sedgefield in calling for Cummings to 'give an account of the timeline of his visit to County Durham and answer the valid questions of ourselves and our constituents'.

'Overall, we believe his actions to be motivated out of his desire as a parent to do what he thought was necessary in protecting his family,' they wrote.

'However, in the same circumstances, none of us would have made the decisions he made – particularly over the visit to Barnard Castle.'

The Northern Eastern MPs called the saga a 'distraction' from the 'vital work of the government' over containing the coronavirus.

'Many people across our constituencies have made, and continue to make, incredible sacrifices. People are coping with situations that were unimaginable not long ago. Some of our constituents have lost their lives and many have lost people close to them, before their time,' they added.

'In such a situation, nothing is more important than public confidence in the actions and messages from our government'.

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Former Tory leadership hopeful Jeremy Hunt fell short of calling for Cummings' dismissal but did say the political aide broke lockdown rules on multiple occasions.

In a letter to voters, he wrote: 'Having watched the broadcast yesterday, my own view is that what he did was a clear breach of the lockdown rules - coming back into work when he had been with his wife who was ill, driving to Durham instead of staying at home, and visiting Barnard Castle.

'These were clearly mistakes - both in terms of the guidance which was crystal clear, and in terms of the signal it would potentially give out to others as someone who was at the centre of government.

'But as someone who has been at the centre of media storms with a young family, I know you do make mistakes in these situations. I have made them myself. So I am afraid I am not going to add my voice to the list of those calling for him to resign.'

Pressure for Johnson's top advisor to quit follows allegations more MPs could resign if Cummings does not leave.

On Wednesday, junior Scotland minister Douglas Ross was the first Tory minister to quit after saying he could not defend the senior advisor's actions.

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