The government is to try to shift focus away from a row about a senior aide’s travels during the coronavirus lockdown – and on to plans to further ease restrictions in England.
Dominic Cummings said he believed he had acted “reasonably” and legally when he drove 260 miles from home in March.
His statement on Monday overshadowed Boris Johnson’s new plans to reopen all non-essential shops in England in June.
Mr Johnson said shops will be able to open if they meet safety guidelines.
Opposition MPs will meet later to discuss how to hold both the prime minister and Mr Cummings to account.
Mr Cummings has been facing calls to resign after it emerged he had driven his child and ill wife from London to County Durham during lockdown.
But at his news conference, held two-and-a-half hours before the official government daily briefing, the former Vote Leave chief said he did not regret his actions.
On the subject of why he then drove his family to the town of Barnard Castle – 15 days after he had displayed symptoms – he said he was testing his eyesight to see if he could make the trip back down to London. He explained that he had experienced some eyesight problems during his illness.
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Following the conference, several government ministers rallied in support of Mr Cummings, with many writing on Twitter that it was “time to move on”.