Boris Johnson said he'd rather 'let the bodies pile high in their thousands' than allow a 3rd lockdown, report says
Boris Johnson reportedly said last year he'd rather "let the bodies pile high" than impose a lockdown.
Sources told the Daily Mail that Johnson had made the comment at a meeting in October.
A senior UK government minister on Monday denied the claim, which he described as "gossip."
UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson said last year that he would rather "let the bodies pile high in their thousands" than impose a lockdown as the coronavirus pandemic raged across Britain, sources told the Daily Mail over the weekend.
The sources said that Johnson made the comment at a meeting at 10 Downing Street in October where he eventually agreed to impose a second national lockdown.
But they said his frustration at having to impose new measures led him to say, "No more f---ing lockdowns - let the bodies pile high in their thousands!"
A spokesperson for the opposition Labour Party said: "If this report is true, then these are truly shocking and sickening comments from Boris Johnson.
"It is hard to imagine how families who have lost loved ones to COVID will feel reading them. Boris Johnson must make a public statement as soon as possible in his response to this report."
A senior minister on Monday said the report was not true. "It's been categorically denied by practically everyone," Defence Secretary Ben Wallace told Sky News.
"We're getting into the sort of comedy chapter now of these gossip stories - you know, unnamed sources by unnamed advisors talking about unnamed events," Wallace said. "You know, look, none of this is serious."
The report followed an extraordinary row between Johnson and Dominic Cummings, his former chief advisor.
Cummings, who left Downing Street acrimoniously in December, published a blog post on Friday denying accusations from Downing Street that he was behind a recent leak of text messages between Johnson and the billionaire James Dyson.
The prime minister had reportedly called journalists at three newspapers to accuse Cummings of being behind the leaks.
Cummings also denied being the "chatty rat" who'd briefed journalists about the lockdown in October.
He said that a different advisor, Henry Newman, was the main suspect but that Johnson had wanted to delay the inquiry because that advisor was a close friend of his fiancée, Carrie Symonds. Newman has denied this.
Cummings also said he had warned Johnson that a plan to renovate his Downing Street flat using money from Conservative donors was "unethical, foolish, possibly illegal and almost certainly broke the rules on proper disclosure of political donations."
Downing Street last week attempted to defuse the row over the flat's refurbishment by saying Johnson would meet the cost himself.
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