UK denies report that PM said ‘let the bodies pile high’ to avoid COVID-19 lockdown

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A newspaper report that British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said that he would rather bodies piled “high in their thousands” than order a third lockdown is not true, defense Secretary Ben Wallace said on Monday.

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

The Daily Mail newspaper said Johnson said at an October meeting at Downing Street: “No more lockdowns – let the bodies pile high in their thousands.”

“It’s not true - it’s been categorically denied by practically everyone,” Wallace told Sky when asked about the reported remark, adding that Johnson was focused on the COVID response.

“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,” Wallace said.

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

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.

Cummings, architect of the Brexit campaign for Britain to leave the European Union, left Johnson’s staff suddenly late last year having previously been his most influential adviser over Brexit and a 2019 election campaign.

Cummings said Johnson’s plans to have donors secretly pay for the renovation of his Downing Street plan were “unethical, foolish, possibly illegal and almost certainly broke the rules on proper disclosure of political donations”.

Asked about the refurbishment plans in March, Johnson’s spokeswoman said all donations, gifts and benefits were properly declared and no party funds were being used to pay for the upgrades.

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