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Boris Johnson has been accused of risking the Government’s efforts to combat Covid-19 in order to defend his senior aide Dominic Cummings following allegations he breached lockdown restrictions.

The Prime Minister chose to front the daily Downing Street coronavirus briefing to publicly back Mr Cummings, saying he had “acted responsibly, legally and with integrity” by driving 260 miles to County Durham to isolate and that “any parent would frankly understand what he did”.

But Tory backbenchers tore into Mr Johnson over his handling of the row, while scientists claimed that the defence of Mr Cummings’ interpretation of the lockdown rules undermined efforts to curb the spread of Covid-19.

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