The Labour Party has demanded a "swift explanation" from Boris Johnson's team, after a joint investigation by The Guardian and the Daily Mirror was released claiming the prime minister's top adviser Dominic Cummings flouted the self-isolation rules he himself helped to craft.
"If accurate, the prime minister's chief adviser appears to have breached the lockdown rules. The government's guidance was very clear: stay at home and no non-essential travel", a Labour spokesperson commented on the reports, adding that double standards are not permissible with regard to state-issued rules:
"The British people do not expect there to be one rule for them and another rule for Dominic Cummings", the press service stated.
While Downing Street hasn't yet commented on the said investigation, speculation is running high over its staffer's political future, as well as general credibility bearing in mind that he is said to have been personally behind the counter-COVID measures.
"Following the news that Dominic Cummings travelled from London to Durham during lockdown and his behaviour was investigated by the police, his position is completely untenable - he must resign or be sacked", SNP Westminster Leader Ian Blackford said.
In a series of tweets, Mr Blackford said: "This is a key test of leadership for Boris Johnson. People must have confidence that the Tory government is following its own rules - not being investigated by the police for breaking them", going on to state that millions would find it "completely incredible that Boris Johnson's most senior adviser has been breaking his own government's rules".
Acting Liberal Democrat leader Sir Ed Davey echoed the stance, suggesting that the way out is crystal clear: "If Dominic Cummings has broken the lockdown guidelines he will have to resign".
"One law for them another for the rest", Labour MP Angela Eagle tweeted, while her colleague delved into greater detail pointing out:
"So we can now take children from a household where people have tested positive to stay with the likely over 70s? Missed that exemption in the guidance", she fumed.
Piers Morgan, in his typically fiery manner, called for Johnson to take countermeasures:
"Fire him tonight prime minister - or why should anybody heed your lockdown rules?", he asked, before going on:
"Boris Johnson must have known where Cummings was self-isolating. Why did you let your chief adviser break your lockdown rules, prime minister?"
The Daily Mail, meanwhile, has cited Cummings’ "close friend" as saying that he couldn't be bothered less with the reports:
"It's more fake news from The Guardian. There is zero chance of him resigning", the friend concluded.
The newspaper reports suggest, citing sources that, Johnson's right-hand man was questioned by the Durham Constabulary on 31 March after travelling to where his parents reside, which is over 200 miles from his London home, just a day after he was seen in Westminster with a Downing Street spokesperson confirming he had been self-isolating with coronavirus symptoms. Sources assumed that the 48-year-old Number 10 staffer made the long trip to the North East so his parents could take care of his young son if he and his wife, who were both displaying symptoms, were unable to look after him - something the couple reportedly believed was not prohibited under the new rules.
The police reportedly investigated the matter and found the said individual was staying in "part of a house" at a Durham address, and in line with national policing guidance, "officers explained to the family the arrangements around self-isolation guidelines and reiterated the appropriate advice around essential travel".
Separately, media outlets suggest a local resident was "shocked" to catch a glimpse of Cummings, "a distinctive figure", on the doorstep of his parents' home with a child believed to be his son on 5 April.
Breaches of lockdown rules have recently led to a number of high-profile resignations.
For instance, Scotland's chief medical officer Catherine Calderwood quit her post after it emerged she had twice visited a second home in Fife.
Also, Professor Neil Ferguson, one of the government's top scientific advisers, resigned from the SAGE committee after a woman from the outside was reported to have visited his home at least twice.