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UK PM aide's row overshadows plans to ease lockdown

Monday - May 25, 2020 1:17 pm , Category : WORLD
London, May 25 (IANS) Pressure was mounting on UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson to act over his senior aide Dominic Cummings' lockdown trip, as the cabinet is slated to met on Monday to discuss plans to ease the country's COVID-19 restrictions.
Cummingss, the former Vote Leave chief who was the architect of Johnson's Brexit strategy, is facing calls to resign after it emerged that he travelled from London to his parents' home in Durham with coronavirus symptoms during the lockdown, reports the BBC.
Speaking at Sunday's Downing Street briefing, Johnson said he believed Cummings had "no alternative" but to make the journey at the end of March for childcare "when both he and his wife were about to be incapacitated by coronavirus".
The Prime Minister said he held "extensive" discussions on Sunday with Mr Cummings, who he said "followed the instincts of every father and every parent - and I do not mark him down for that".
However, the BBC report said that the Prime Minister was finding it difficult to shift the political focus away from his key adviser.
Speaking to the BBC, Acting Lib Dem leader Ed Davey said that the row over Cummings was "preventing the government from getting on and doing its job, and doing it better".
He said that Johnson should sack Cummings "so the government has more credibility in what it says about public health".
"The instruction the Prime Minister gave us all to stay at home has been breached by his top adviser and that's what you can't get away from in this story, its pretty simple.
"I hope the prime minister will come to his senses, recapture his judgement and reinstall authority on this crisis by acting," he told the BBC.
Meanwhile, some of the scientists that advise ministers were also concerned that Johnson's decision to back Cummings would undermine the message on controlling the virus.
Stephen Reicher, a professor of social psychology who has advised the government on behavioural science during the pandemic, told the BBC that trust was vital to maintaining public health measures, adding: "You can't have trust if people have a sense of them and us, that there's one rule for them and another rule for us."
Also responding to the row, Bishop of Leeds, the Right Reverend Nick Baines, said Johnson was treating people "as mugs" and the Bishop of Bristol, the Right Reverend Vivienne Faull, accused the Prime ,inister of having "no respect for people".

--IANS ksk/