Grant Shapps swerves questions on what Boris Johnson knew about Dominic Cummings’ rule-breaking

PUBLISHED: 16:46 23 May 2020 | UPDATED: 17:39 23 May 2020

Transport secretary Grant Schapps during a media briefing at Downing Street. Photograph: Andrew Parsons/10 Downing Street/Crown Copyright/PA Wire.

Transport secretary Grant Schapps during a media briefing at Downing Street. Photograph: Andrew Parsons/10 Downing Street/Crown Copyright/PA Wire.

Transport secretary Grant Shapps has swerved questions about what Boris Johnson knew about senior aide Dominic Cummings breaking lockdown rules.

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Speaking at the latest Downing Street briefing, Shapps was asked if the prime minister knew about Cumming’s actions and had approved them.

He said: “The important thing is that everyone remains in the same place whilst they are on lockdown which is exactly what happened in I think the case you’re referring to with Mr Cummings.

“The prime minister will have known he was staying put and he didn’t come out again until he was feeling better.”

The minister added: “The guidance says if you’re living with children keep following this advice to the best of your ability.

“However, we are aware that not all these measures will be possible depending therefore on circumstances.”

The minister said it’s for an individual to make a decision on how best to practice lockdown measures.

“It’s for an individual to make the decision ‘how do I make sure I’ve got enough support around the family’, particularly in the case you are referring to with a potential of both parents ending up being ill and having a young child to look after.

“How do you have that support network around them, and the decision here was to go to that location and stay in that location. They don’t then need to move around from there and so it would be for each individual to work out the best way to do that, which is what’s happened here.”

Shapps added: “You have to get yourself in lockdown and do that in the best and most practical way - and I think that will be different for different people under whatever circumstances, their particular family differences, happen to dictate, that’s all that’s happened in this case.”

But Dr Jenny Harries, the deputy chief medical officer for England, said: “The public health advice is take yourself out of society if you have symptoms, stay at home, stay at home with your family, I don’t know the details of this specific case and I am commenting on the medical advice.”

SNP Westminster leader Ian Blackford said afterwards: “He [Cummings] ought to have resigned by now, but it’s quite clear after that performance today by the transport secretary that there is no real defence and that Dominic Cummings should now be sacked by the prime minister.”

He added: “We should have been hearing from the prime minister today… The prime minister needs to come clean about when he knew about this, whether or not he authorised this, why he hasn’t taken his responsibilities in asking Dominic Cummings to resign? But, failing that, making sure that he sacks him.

“Because this man has undermined the public messaging that the UK government has sought to deliver.”

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