The Sun : Dominic Cummings’ child was ‘the important thing’ claims Grant Shapps amid fury over 260-mile lockdown trip to family

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TRANSPORT Minister Grant Shapps today came out in support of Dominic Cummings after the PM's top aide apparently broke lockdown rules by travelling hundreds of miles to see family.

During the daily press briefing at Downing Street, Mr Shapps repeatedly backed Mr Cummings following reports Boris Johnson's chief adviser travelled more than 260 miles from his London home to stay with his parents in Durham.

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Grant Shapps has backed Dominic Cummings after the PM's top aide made a long journey home during lockdown[/caption]

Mr Cummings has been backed by No10, despite calls for him to stand down

The move has sparked calls that Mr Cummings resign his post.

But Mr Johnson has thrown his weight behind the aide – and tonight, Mr Shapps said there were good reasons for Mr Cummings to have undertaken the journey.

The drive happened when Mr Cummings' wife, journalist Mary Wakefield, was sick with coronavirus.

Asked by reporters from the Sun on Sunday, the BBC, Sky News and ITV whether the journey had flouted the national lockdown, Mr Shapps repeatedly supported Mr Cummings' decision and said his young child was the 'important thing'.

"If you're in position with a young child -a four year old, in this case – and you're worried about the welfare of that child, then clearly being somewhere where other members of the family can assist might be the best place for you to settle and stay throughout the time you're ill," he said.

Pressed further, he imagined himself in the situation, telling reporters: "What would I do – I've got a young child, my wife is unwell, I'm worried about ability to support the child as a father.

'WHAT WOULD I DO IN THAT POSITION?'

"Do you say, 'We'll take the best possible option to be able to provide the ongoing care and go to where there's a network'?"

Asked about what he would say to those who were unable to say goodbye to loved ones or go to their funerals because of the lockdown, Mr Shapps stumbled over his answer.

"For everyone who has lost loved ones – everyone has been impacted by the crisis and done their best to do the right things," he said.

But he said Mr Cummings had taken "practical steps" to ensure he followed the advice "as best as possible to prevent – in this case – a four-year-old child ending up without having the necessary support."

It was also unclear if Mr Johnson had been aware Mr Cummings had crossed the country when he should have been self-isolating.

Mr Shapps said the Prime Minister "would have know [Mr Cummings] was staying put", but refused to be drawn further, adding only: "I don't know exactly the answer to when the Prime Minister knew.

"The Prime Minister knew he was unwell and locked down."

However, he added: "I can tell you the PM provides Mr Cummings with his full support."

Deputy Chief Medical Officer Dr Jenny Harries said she was unable to comment on Mr Cummings directly, but added that the "scientific and medical advice is to take people who are symptomatic out of the public domain".

The advice to self-isolate at home is "very clear", she said.

However, Dr Harries then said "safeguarding" may have been a "separate issue".

"There's always a safeguarding clause in all our advice," she said.

Mr Cummings travelled hundreds of miles to see family when his wife was symptomatic

There have been calls for Mr Cummings to face the sack

After being backed by No10 this morning, Mr Cummings told reporters outside his home in London: "I behaved reasonbly and legally."

When asked by reporters if his trip to Durham during lockdown 'looked good',  he added: "Who cares about good looks.

"It's a question of doing the right thing.

"It's not about what you guys think."

No10 says Mr Cummings ddidn't break government guidance because he and his wife stayed in a different building.

The spokesperson also challenged reports the aide and his family had been spoken to by police.

A statement said: "Owing to his wife being infected with suspected coronavirus and the high likelihood that he would himself become unwell, it was essential for Dominic Cummings to ensure his young child could be properly cared for.

"His sister and nieces had volunteered to help so he went to a house near to but separate from his extended family in case their help was needed.

"His sister shopped for the family and left everything outside.

"At no stage was he or his family spoken to by the police about this matter, as is being reported.

"His actions were in line with coronavirus guidelines."

It was also announced during the press conference that the Government is pumping £283 million into roads, railways, buses and trams to improve public safety and protect services.

Mr Cummings 'collapsed and had spasms' after being taken ill with virus

Dominic Cummings' wife gave a detailed account of the family's coronavirus ordeal in her Spectator column – but failed to mention that they had broken lockdown.

Journalist Mary Wakefield revealed that No10 chief Mr Cummings, 48, spent 10 days bedridden after "collapsing" and having "spasms".

In the article, Wakfield said her husband was nursed by their young son – despite new claims the family had travelled to Durham for child care.

She said: "My husband did rush home to look after me.

"He's an extremely kind man, whatever people assume to the contrary.

"But 24 hours later, he said, 'I feel weird' and collapsed.

"I felt breathless, sometimes achy, but Dom couldn't get out of bed.

"Day in, day out for ten days he lay doggo with a high fever and spasms that made the muscles lump and twitch in his legs. He could breathe, but only in a limited, shallow way."
Wakefield said she believed for a time her husband could require ventilation.

"The little oxygen reader we'd bought on Amazon indicated that he should be in hospital, but his lips weren't blue and he could talk in full sentences," she wrote.

She also appears to have suggested the family remained at their London home for the duration of the illness, writing: "After the uncertainty of the bug itself, we emerged from quarantine into the almost comical uncertainty of London lockdown."

Mr Shapps said the funding, divided into £254 million for buses and £29 million for trams and light rail, would increase both frequency and capacity of services while ensuring there is enough space on vehicles to allow for social distancing.

However, he warned there will be capacity for just a fifth of commuters once social distancing is taken into account.

"This funding does not mean we can go back to using public transport whenever we like. Those who can should still work from home. Those who can shoyld still avoid all public transport," he said.

"Even a fully restored service will only be capable of carrying, at best, one fifth of the normal capacity once social distancing is taken into account.

"Please, avoid the rush hour."

Mr Cummings and his wife drove 260 miles with their four-year-old son

Questions remain over what Boris Johnson knew of the journey
EPA

More than 36,000 people have now died with Covid-19 in the UK

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