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UK junior minister resigns over PM adviser’s lockdown drive

LONDON (Reuters) – Douglas Ross, a junior minister in the Scotland Office, resigned on Tuesday, saying the prime minister’s senior adviser’s explanation of why he travelled during the coronavirus lockdown was based on decisions “others felt were not available to them”. 

Dominic Cummings, Boris Johnson’s closest adviser, refused to resign on Monday, saying he had done nothing wrong by driving 250 miles to northern England when Britain was under a strict lockdown to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.

Johnson, who worked with Cummings on the campaign to leave the European Union, has stood by his adviser, saying at the weekend that the aide had followed the “instincts of every father” when he travelled with his wife for help with childcare. 

Ross, a junior minister, said in a letter he accepted Cummings’ statement on Monday when he “clarified the actions he took in what he felt were the best interests of his family. However, these were decisions many others felt were not available to them”. 

“I have constituents who didn’t get to say goodbye to loved ones, families who could not mourn together, people who didn’t visit sick relatives because they followed the guidance of the government. I cannot in good faith tell them they were all wrong and one senior adviser to the government was right.” 

A Downing Street spokesman said: “The prime minister would like to thank Douglas Ross for his service to government and regrets his decision to stand down as Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Scotland.” 

Cummings decision to travel during the lockdown has prompted fury among some in Britain, and several lawmakers from the governing Conservative Party criticised the aide over the weekend after receiving angry messages from voters.

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