DISSATISFACTION is rumbling on the Conservative benches after the Prime Minister backed his de facto chief-of-staff Dominic Cummings following allegations he breached lockdown restrictions.

Boris Johnson, speaking at the daily Downing Street coronavirus briefing, said Mr Cummings had “acted responsibly, legally and with integrity” and that “any parent would frankly understand what he did”.

But Tory backbenchers said they were “unconvinced” by the Prime Minister’s defence of his most trusted aide.Tory MPs had been baying for Mr Johnson to dispense with Mr Cummings after it emerged he had travelled 260 miles to County Durham in March to self-isolate with his family while official guidelines warned against long-distance journeys.

Further reports also suggested he took a second trip to the North East in April, having already returned to London following his recovery from coronavirus – a disease which has seen more than 45,000 people in the UK die after contracting it, according to the latest available data.

Mr Cummings denied the fresh allegations, which were reported by the Observer and the Sunday Mirror, and Mr Johnson declared he would be standing by his most senior adviser.

Mr Johnson, leading the Government press conference for the third time since being discharged from hospital on April 12, said he could “not mark down” Mr Cummings for the way he acted.

The Prime Minister said: “I have had extensive face-to-face conversations with Dominic Cummings and I have concluded that in travelling to find the right kind of childcare, at the moment when both he and his wife were about to be incapacitated by coronavirus – and when he had no alternative – I think he followed the instincts of every father and every parent.

“And I do not mark him down for that.

“Though there have been many other allegations about what happened when he was in self-isolation and thereafter, some of them palpably false, I believe that in every respect he has acted responsibly and legally and with integrity and with the overwhelming aim of stopping the spread of the virus and saving lives.”

It comes as:

– Mr Johnson confirmed at the briefing that the intention was for primary schools in England to open more widely on June 1, but acknowledged it “may not be possible” for all schools

– Police attended Mr Cummings’s London home yesterday afternoon after it was “reported that a large crowd of people were outside the address”. Scotland Yard would not confirm who had called officers.

– Before the press conference, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon encouraged Mr Johnson to dismiss Mr Cummings, citing her own “tough” experience of having to let go of Scotland’s chief medical officer, Catherine Calderwood, after pictures emerged of her twice visiting her holiday home during lockdown.

– An investigation has been launched into a since-deleted tweet from the official UK Civil Service twitter account, posted 20 minutes after the news conference finished, stating: “Arrogant and offensive. Can you imagine having to work with these truth twisters?”