British Prime Minister Boris Johnson resisted calls on Saturday from opposition parties to sack senior adviser Dominic Cummings after he traveled 400 km (250 miles) to northern England while his wife showed COVID-19 symptoms.
Cummings, who masterminded the 2016 campaign to leave the European Union during the Brexit referendum, traveled to Durham in late March, when a strict lockdown was already in place.
Johnson’s office said Cummings made the journey to ensure his 4-year-old son could be properly cared for as his wife was ill with COVID-19 and there was a “high likelihood” that Cummings would himself become unwell.
“I behaved reasonably and legally,” Cummings told reporters outside his house after telling them to stay 2 meters apart in accordance with government guidelines.
Asked if he would consider his position, he said: “Obviously not.” He then chided reporters for being wrong about the result of the 2016 Brexit referendum.
“You guys are probably all about as right about that as you were about Brexit: do you remember how right you all were about that?” Cummings said.
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Ministers voiced support for the senior adviser.
“I can tell you that the PM provides Mr Cummings with his full support,” Transport Secretary Grant Shapps told reporters, adding that he did not know when the prime minister found out about the journey.
Downing Street said Cummings’ “actions were in line with coronavirus guidelines.”
But opposition parties called for Johnson to sack Cummings and Labour called on the country’s most senior civil servant, Mark Sedwill, to open an investigation into the journey.
“The British people do not expect there to be one rule for them and another rule for the prime minister’s most senior adviser,” Labour said.