Downing Street has denied an allegation that Boris Johnson said he would rather see “bodies pile high in their thousands” rather than order a third lockdown.
It was reported that the prime minister made the remark after he ordered the second lockdown at the end of October.
Johnson was said to have “raged” after agreeing to the new restrictions, before allegedly adding: “No more ****ing lockdowns – let the bodies pile high in their thousands.”
The allegation, made in the Daily Mail, was not attributed to a source but was dismissed as “just another lie” about the prime minister by Number 10.
Dominic Cummings is widely known to have been critical of Johnson’s delay in launching a second lockdown in England when cases began rising last autumn and there is speculation he will seek to blame him for the high death toll when giving evidence to MPs next month.
A spokesperson for Labour remarked: “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.”
Health minister Nadine Dorries tweeted: “This is an outright lie. Not one named source or substantiated fact.
“Days before Hartlepool by-election and a wide set of local/PCC/Mayoral elections.
“It’s mendacious, vexatious co-ordinated gossip given in order to negatively influence the outcome,” she claimed.
Defence secretary Ben Wallace also denied the reports.
“None of this is serious. The prime minister has been utterly focused on delivering, alongside cabinet colleagues, the response to Covid.
“All the ‘who said, what said’, I’ll leave that to the Oscar gossip columns that are now being rolled out today after last night.
“I’ll leave that to the Hello magazines of the world but government is focused on delivering for the citizens on its Covid response.”