Dominic Cummings has the “full support” of Boris Johnson after it emerged the prime minister’s top aide travelled 260 miles from London to Durham during the lockdown.
The PM has come under pressure to sack him after it was revealed he drove his wife and child to a family property in the North East after his spouse developed coronavirus-related symptoms.
Transport Secretary Grant Shapps, speaking at the daily Downing Street COVID-19 briefing, said: “I can tell you the PM provides Mr Cummings with his full support.”
Number 10 had already offered Mr Cummings its support in a statement on Saturday, stating that the aide’s actions “were in line with coronavirus guidelines”.
But Mr Shapps’ latest comments are an indication that the PM is sticking by the controversial figure, who he credited with helping secure him his landslide election victory in December.
The SNP has been calling for the Conservative Party leader to sack Mr Cummings.
The party and Labour have written to Cabinet Secretary Sir Mark Sedwill demanding an inquiry into what happened.
Shadow Cabinet Office minister Rachel Reeves said in a letter: “The British people have made important and painful sacrifices to support the national effort, including being away from family in times of need.
“It is therefore vital that the Government can reassure the public that its most senior figures have been adhering to the same rules as everyone else.”
The SNP’s Westminster leader Ian Blackford said: “Boris Johnson must answer serious questions about his role in this incident and the cover-up – including when he found out, when he heard about the police action, why Mr Cummings wasn’t sacked immediately, and why he kept the public in the dark for eight weeks until a newspaper broke the story.
“Dominic Cummings’ position is completely untenable.”
Mr Cummings, speaking to reporters outside his London home on Saturday, said he had acted “reasonably and legally”.
When a reporter suggested to him outside his London home that the trip to Durham did not look good, he replied: “Who cares about good looks?
“It’s a question of doing the right thing. It’s not about what you guys think.”
Returning home later, Mr Cummings was asked if he would resign and replied: “Obviously not.”
In a statement, a No 10 spokesman said: “Owing to his wife being infected with suspected coronavirus and the high likelihood that he would himself become unwell, it was essential for Dominic Cummings to ensure his young child could be properly cared for.
“His sister and nieces had volunteered to help so he went to a house near to but separate from his extended family in case their help was needed.
“His sister shopped for the family and left everything outside.
“At no stage was he or his family spoken to by the police about this matter, as is being reported.
“His actions were in line with coronavirus guidelines. Mr Cummings believes he behaved reasonably and legally.”