A British minister said Wednesday it was time to "go ahead" after Prime Minister Boris Johnson's senior adviser caused outrage and widespread contempt by going on a 400km road trip while the corona virus was blocked.
Dominic Cummings refused to quit after it became known that he and his 4-year-old son and then-sick wife drove from London to Northern England in March to be close to relatives. Johnson supported his advisor.
Opinion polls show confidence in Johnson has dropped since Cummings' story was published in The Mirror and The Guardian newspapers on Friday. Some people openly mock Johnson and Cummings on social media.
Opposition parties and some conservative legislators have also called for Cummings, the man behind the successful Brexit campaign in 2016 and Johnson's landslide election victory in 2019, to step down. He refused to apologize.
"Now I think it's time we all go ahead," housing secretary Robert Jenrick told the BBC, adding that people wanted the government to talk about issues other than cummings.
"It doesn't mean that this is not an important issue or that people don't care much about it, but I think there is a lot more that we need to focus on now, like the virus and the economy."
When nearly 70 million British citizens experienced the strictest lock in the history of peace, the news that the UK government's second-most powerful man had taken such a long journey was received with dismay by many.
The Daily Star newspaper, a tabloid that rejoices in scandal and celebrity sexual antics, even offered the reader a cut out cummings mask.
"FREE Do what the hell you want and make a mask for everyone else," said the star on the front page. "Wear this handy cathedral face covering and you will get away with murder."
YouGov found that 71% of people believed Cummings had violated the blackout rules and 59% thought he should step down.
Just days before Cummings’s trip, Johnson put a lock on the UK and asked people to stay home. He said on March 23 that people "shouldn't meet family members who don't live in your home."
Cummings said he acted sensibly and did not violate the blocking rules – a position supported by Johnson and high-ranking ministers who have twisted over the past few days to explain whether the block is still in effect and if so, to whom it applies. He refused to apologize.
There has been confusion over the fines – at least £ 60 ($ 74) – that police have imposed on thousands of ordinary people for violating the ban rules.
Jenrick said there would be no official review of the fines imposed on ordinary people and that it was up to the police to decide.
"There will be no formal review, it is up to the police to follow the law and guidelines," he said.
(Except for the headline, this story was not edited by NDTV staff and published from a syndicated feed.)