'Domnishambles': Tory MPs continue piling pressure on Downing Street to sack Dominic Cummings as angry constituents decry his actionsby Henry Martin For Mailonline
- Conservative MPs have been calling for top aide Dominic Cummings to resign
- Mr Cummings faced a barrage of criticism after admitting driving to Durham
- Ministers Rishi Sunak and Robert Jenrick have backed the controversial advisor
- Here’s how to help people impacted by Covid-19
Rebellious Conservative MPs are piling pressure on Downing Street to remove Dominic Cummings - after the controversial press conference over his 260-mile trip to Durham.
Mr Cummings, 48, faced an hour-long live television grilling tonight where he attempted to mount a defence of his decision to drive from London to County Durham with his son and Covid-carrying wife.
The top Government aide admitted he took his wife Mary Wakefield and four-year-old son north to his family's farm at the end of March, when she was suffering from coronavirus symptoms.
He also admitted that on April 12 - his wife's birthday - he took a 30-mile drive to Barnard Castle, saying it was to test his eyesight before the long journey back to London - as he had suffered suspected coronavirus.
But he denied allegations he and his family took a second trip north in April, despite claims he had been spotted walking in woods on April 19.
Conservative backbenchers have been calling on the Prime Minister to remove Mr Cummings from his influential position since the events were revealed.
Following tonight's press conference, MP for Mid Norfolk, George Freeman, said that the Number 10 Covid briefing and Boris Johnson's 'important announcement' on easing lockdown was 'overwhelmed by continuing questions and controversy on Domnishambles curfew-gate'.
One Conservative MP said he plans to forward all letters from constituents about Mr Cummings to Number 10 Downing Street.
Another told The Telegraph his inbox was flooded with dozens of messages within minutes of the Prime Minister finishing his press conference on Sunday, where he defended the top aide.
One senior Conservative MP said: 'The backbench WhatsApp group is full of pretty annoyed people. We are getting thousands of angry emails every day, including hundreds of emails from Brexiteers and Boris cheerleaders.
'The PM's statement made it much worse. He should have said there is going to be an independent inquiry, if he has broken the rules he should go, if he hasn't he should stay.'
Another MP, who is also a ministerial aide, said that Mr Cummings was damaging the Conservative Party and Boris Johnson.
Some have said that the crisis over Mr Cummings could damage it as much as the poll tax or Black Wednesday.
One former minister said that Mr Johnson had been popular because Britons thought he related to working people, and defending Mr Cummings makes one look like 'your worst kind of Tory... it plays into every stereotype people have of us'.
A Conservative MP in a former 'Red Wall' seat in the north of England said that there has been a 'massive' response, with hundreds of emails pouring in, mostly from 'normal down to earth people who are furious at what's gone on'.
The MP claimed that Number 10 thought 'no one would care' about Mr Cummings' whereabouts because 'they never thought people would stick to the lockdown rules anyway'.
They added that it now feels that Mr Cummings will have to go by the end of the week.
Tory MP Peter Aldous, a public critic of Mr Cummings, had said his 'initial view' was sympathetic towards Mr Cummings, but after receiving a swathe of emails from constituents highlighting the sacrifices families have made, he has 'revised this opinion'.
'The Government should recognise what families have gone through and what people are thinking and saying,' he said, adding: 'It is thus important that Dominic Cummings should now stand down.'
He told MailOnline he was taking soundings from constituents in Waveney after the Monday night appearance. ‘It was pretty powerful stuff,' he said.
‘I was responding earlier to what constituents with no axe to grind were telling me in their droves.
‘I think I now just want to see how they respond to that. That’s what I want to see over the next 12-18 hours or so.’
But those high-up in the party have backed Mr Cummings - who did not apologise for his actions.
Chancellor Rishi Sunak said that Dominic Cummings had 'made clear he was motivated by trying to protect his son and he took steps to be safe'.
He added: 'I understand people had serious questions about his actions - indeed many of you have made huge sacrifices - but I do believe today he explained himself.'
Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick said that Mr Cummings 'gave a full and open explanation and answered every question put'.
He added: 'He acted in the best interests of his sick wife and young child. He put no one else at risk. He clearly did what he believed was reasonable and within the rules.'
Several Conservatives broke ranks and hit out at Mr Cummings over the weekend - despite the senior advisor having the backing of the Prime Minister.
Yesterday David Warburton MP had tweeted: 'As much as I despise any baying pitchfork-led trials by social media, I'm unconvinced by the PM's defence of #Cummings.
'We've all been tasked with tempering our parental, and other, instincts by strictly adhering to Govt guidance.'
Craig Whittaker MP had said: 'I totally agree that Dominic Cummings position is untenable. I'm sure he took the decision in the best interests of his family but like every decision we take we also have to take responsibility for those decisions. You cannot advise the nation one thing then do the opposite.'
Caroline Nokes, Conservative MP for Romsey and Southampton North, had said 'There cannot be one rule for most of us and wriggle room for others'.
She added: 'My inbox is rammed with very angry constituents and I do not blame them. They have made difficult sacrifices over the course of the last 9 weeks.'
Paul Maynard, Member of Parliament for Blackpool North and Cleveleys, had said it was a 'classic case of do as I say, not as I do', adding: 'It is not as if he was unfamiliar with guidance he himself helped draw up.
'It seems to me to be utterly indefensible and his position wholly untenable.'