UK Defence Minister, Ben Wallace, has denied;a report that Prime Minister, Boris Johnson said he would rather see bodies piled;“high in their thousands” than order a third social and economic lockdown to stem coronavirus infections.
His comment comes after British newspaper, Daily Mail, published amongst its headlines today, 26th April, that Johnson told a Downing Street meeting in October, “No more…lockdowns – let the bodies pile high in their thousands!”
Speaking to reporters, the Defence Minister echoed the sentiments of the PM’s office that the reports were “just another lie”.
“It’s not true. It has been categorically denied by practically everyone. We’re getting into the sort of comedy chapter now of these gossip stories. You know – unnamed sources by unnamed advisers talking about unnamed events. You know – look – none of this is serious”.
Mr Wallace intimated rather that Johnson and his cabinet ministers had been “utterly focussed” on their response to the COVID crisis.
“All the ‘who said, what 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 focussed on delivering for the citizen a COVID response.”
The Daily Mail’s report indicates that Johnson’s alleged comments were made at the end of October as the UK was hit by a second wave of coronavirus infections.
According to the newspaper, the PM was given a warning by Cabinet Office Minister, Michael Gove that without new restrictions, soldiers would be needed to guard hospitals overrun with COVID patients.
Mr Johnson agreed to fresh measures but also vented his frustration during the meeting, the newspaper noted.
Make public statement ‘as soon as possible’
The Labour party, an opposition political party, has called on Boris Johnson to make a public statement “as soon as possible” to address the claims in the Daily Mail report.
Speaking to the issue, Labour leader, Sir Keir Starmer called on the PM to “go on the record” with his explanation.
“Like everybody reading that, I was astonished to see those words. It’s for the Prime Minister, I think now, to make a public statement about that.
“If he did say those things then he’s got to explain it. If he didn’t, go on the record and publicly explain what was said and what wasn’t said.
“Because I think everybody will be deeply concerned – not least all those families that have lost someone during this pandemic.”
The Daily Mail’s report adds to a series of allegations Boris Johnson is currently facing. His opponents earlier called for an inquiry into his initial handling of the Covid-19 crisis. They accused him of acting too slowly to stop the spread of the virus and often delaying to impose lockdowns at crucial moments.
The PM is also facing questions over who financed the redecoration of his Downing Street flat. Commenting on that, Ben Wallace stated that Johnson paid for the refurbishment of the Downing Street flat “out of his own pocket” and that all the rules were followed.
“As the Prime Minister has been clear, he paid personally for the flat. The Prime Minister has complied at all stages with the rules and we’ve been very clear on that.