WORLD / EUROPE
UK denies leader’s remarks
Johnson allegedly said ‘let bodies pile high in 1000s’
Published: Apr 26, 2021 05:43 PM
A British minister on Monday flatly denied a report that Prime Minister Boris Johnson said he would rather bodies piled "high in their thousands" than order a third social and economic lockdown to stem coronavirus infections.

Johnson is facing a stream of allegations in newspapers about everything from his muddled initial handling of the ­COVID-19 crisis to questions over who financed the ­redecoration of his official apartment.

The Daily Mail newspaper cited unidentified sources as saying that, in October, ­shortly after agreeing to a ­second ­lockdown, Johnson told a ­meeting in Downing Street, "No more fucking lockdowns - let the bodies pile high in their thousands."

Defence Secretary Ben Wallace told Sky News, "It's not true - it's been categorically denied by practically everyone," and added that Johnson was focused on the COVID-19 response.

"We're getting into the sort of comedy chapter now of these gossip stories. Unnamed sources by unnamed advisers talking about unnamed events, none of this is serious," Wallace said.

The Daily Mail did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Britain has the world's fifth worst official COVID-19 death toll, with over 127,000 deaths, after the US, Brazil, Mexico and India, according to Johns ­Hopkins University & Medicine.

Johnson did impose a third lockdown, in January, though critics say it could have been avoided had he yielded to pressure from senior ministers to make the second lockdown more stringent.

Johnson's opponents say he acted too slowly to stop the spread of the virus, and then bungled both the strategy and the execution of the government's response, often delaying imposing lockdowns at crucial moments.

Johnson has resisted calls for an immediate inquiry into the handling of the crisis and ministers say that, while they have not got everything right, they were making decisions at speed and have one of the best vaccination programs in the world.

After Downing Street named Johnson's former chief adviser, Dominic Cummings, as the source of leaks about the prime minister, Cummings hit back on Friday, denying he was the source and casting Johnson as incompetent and lacking in integrity.
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