ROBERT Jenrick, the UK Government’s Communities Secretary, has attempted to draw a line under the Dominic Cummings row and insisted it is time to “move on” from it and concentrate on “wider issues more important to the public”.

However, the controversy is set to flare up again this afternoon when Boris Johnson is questioned via video-link by members of the House of Commons Liaison Committee, which is made up of all committee chairmen and women.

Disquiet has broken out at Westminster over the fact that the Prime Minister is only due to appear for 20 minutes before the senior MPs during what is billed as a 90-minute session.

It comes as a YouGov poll suggests the Conservatives’ lead over Labour has dropped by nine points during the Cummings affair; Tory support fell four points in the week to Tuesday, to 44%, with Labour rising five points to 38%.

As the Government continues its “tough it out” strategy, it will seek to turn attention away from the current political row about the Downing St aide by announcing the launch of its test and trace programme. Matt Hancock, the UK Government's Health Secretary, is expected to make the announcement at today's No 10 daily press briefing.

And yet the level of opposition from Conservative MPs to Mr Cummings remaining in post does not appear to be subsiding.

Apart from Douglas Ross resigning his post as a junior minister at the Scotland Office on Tuesday – there are some indications his replacement might not be announced this week - no other minister has thus far followed suit although there are reports of some contemplating leaving their Government jobs. One said he was “taking soundings” from friends over whether he too should resign.

At present more than 30 Tory MPs have called for Mr Cummings to go. Yesterday, Jackson Carlaw, the Scottish Conservative leader, joined their ranks, saying it was time the No 10 aide to consider his position.

But Mr Jenrick, on an early morning media round, defended Mr Cummings and argued it was time to draw line under the damaging row.

Asked if he believed, Mr Johnson’s de facto chief of staff should resign, the Secretary of State told the BBC: “No, he shouldn't. He has given his explanation to the Prime Minister, who listened and concluded that he'd acted reasonably and legally.

"The Prime Minister then asked him to give that statement on Monday to the public and to answer questions from journalists, he answered them for over an hour and now is the time for us all to move on. That's not to say this isn't an important issue or that people don't care about it, but there's a lot more that we need to focus on now."

But Conservative backbencher Sir Bob Neill insisted Mr Cummings should have accepted he was wrong and have apologised.

“We would all have sympathy with someone who tried to do the best by their family even if he got that wrong. But I do think there are two things: it would have been right for him at the very beginning to have accepted that and to have made an apology.

"And then, secondly, that even if one accepts - as I'm prepared to - that his motives to protect his family in going to Durham, whether or not that was within the rules, I just don't think on any basis you can see that that test drive apparently to Castle test your eyesight, can't see how that can possibly be said to come within any of the exemptions that were there at the time."

After announcing his resignation, Mr Ross said it was a “personal decision,” pointing out there were still unanswered questions regarding Mr Cummings' visit to Durham.

“I can only be accountable for my own decisions and, as I've said, this is not unanimous. There are still unanswered questions with his statement and that's why I felt I couldn't go out and defend it," explained the Moray MP.

Other Tory MPs speaking out against Mr Cummings included veteran Sir Roger Gale, who said the Conservative backbench 1922 Committee should make it clear to the PM his adviser should go.

"The time has come for Mr Cummings to resign or for the PM to dispense of his services," said Sir Roger, adding 1922 Committee members were "elected to tell the PM what he needs to hear, not what he wants to hear".

Party colleague Craig Whittaker described Mr Cummings' position as "untenable", saying: "I respect he is taking a decision but what I can't get my head around is why he can't take responsibility for that decision."

Senior Tory William Wragg, who chairs the Commons Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs Committee in the Commons, said it was "humiliating and degrading" to see ministers put out agreed lines in defence of Mr Cummings.

Former minister Caroline Nokes, Chairwoman of the Commons Women and Equalities Committee, said she had informed party whips there could not be "wriggle room" for some people when it came to lockdown rules.

Jeremy Hunt, the former Health Secretary, said he believed Mr Cummings had broken the lockdown rules on multiple occasions but made clear he was not calling for him to resign.

In a letter sent to constituents, Mr Hunt wrote: "Having watched the broadcast yesterday, my own view is that what he did was a clear breach of the lockdown rules; coming back into work when he had been with his wife who was ill, driving to Durham instead of staying at home, and visiting Barnard Castle.

"These were clearly mistakes both in terms of the guidance which was crystal clear and in terms of the signal it would potentially give out to others as someone who was at the centre of Government.

"But as someone who has been at the centre of media storms with a young family, I know you do make mistakes in these situations. I have made them myself. So, I am afraid I am not going to add my voice to the list of those calling for him to resign," he added.

County Durham's three Conservative MPs issued a joint statement saying Mr Cummings' public statement had addressed "a number of concerns".

However, Tory backbencher Mark Pawsey, who represents Rugby, said Mr Cummings had "acted very much against the spirit of the lockdown rules" and should be sacked, while former chief whip Mark Harper said Mr Cummings should have offered his resignation to the PM.

He said he would "expect an adviser who had damaged the credibility of the Government's central message so badly and had become the story to consider their position," added Mr Pawsey.

Meanwhile, Lisa Nandy for Labour insisted Mr Johnson now had to take responsibility for the Cummings affair, saying the current Government position of defending the aide was “unsustainable”.

"He's got to decide whether he can actually account for why that situation was so unique that the rules had to be broken, and if he can't, then it's right that he should take action to restore public confidence.

"At the moment, we've got a situation where both the Prime Minister and his own adviser are just refusing to resign or to sack him, and also refusing to answer basic questions.

"That's just not sustainable. Something has got to change and it's got to change very, very quickly if the public are going to have confidence," argued the Shadow Foreign Secretary.

The Wigan MP added: "There's a very serious underlying point about this, which is that Dominic Cummings was one of the advisers who actually wrote those rules, who helped the Government put those rules into law.

"What that guidance and those rules do is they ask families to take some very difficult personal decisions for the greater good.

"A couple, for example, in my constituency, both of whom are frontline workers, both of whom contracted Covid and have young children, made a very difficult decision just to try and manage and not calling grandparents for help.

"That was a very, very hard thing for them to do. They worried about the welfare of their children and right across the country we've seen families having to make those very, very difficult decisions.

"Yet the Prime Minister's own adviser seems to be allowed to take the opposite approach. That really is unsustainable."