POLL: Should Boris Johnson resign if found to have made ‘pile bodies high’ comments? VOTE
Robert Peston discusses the future of Boris Johnson
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Mr Johnson has strenuously denied making the comment and branded the accusation as “total total rubbish”. But several newspapers and broadcasters stand by their sources and say the Prime Minister did make the remark about future lockdowns while in a fit of rage.
The alleged comment is said to have taken place in October, shortly after Mr Johnson agreed to introduce a second national lockdown.
Unidentified sources told the Daily Mail the Prime Minister said: “No more f**king lockdowns – let the bodies pile high in their thousands.”
The BBC and ITV separately reported sources as confirming Mr Johnson did make the remarks.
Robert Peston, ITV’s political editor, said two sources have now corroborated the claims.
He said: “I am told he shouted it in his study just after he agreed to the second lockdown ‘in a rage’.
“The doors to the Cabinet room and outer office were allegedly open and supposedly a number of people heard.
“I am bothering to repeat this assertion about what the prime minister said because two eyewitnesses – or perhaps I should say ‘ear witnesses’ – have corroborated the Daily Mail’s account to me.
“Also these sources insist they did not brief the Mail, so that suggests there are three sources.”
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Both Mr Johnson and No10 continue to deny the comments were ever made.
Asked whether he had made the remark, the Prime Minister told broadcasters: “No, but again, I think the important thing, I think, that people want us to get on and do as a government is to make sure that the lockdowns work, and they have.”
Mr Johnson’s spokesman also said the reported comments were false, adding: “This is untrue and the PM has denied it… I’m not aware of anyone else making that statement.”
Cabinet ministers have also rallied round the Prime Minister and denied Mr Johnson ever used such language.
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Michael Gove said: “I was in the meeting that afternoon with the Prime Minister and other ministers as we looked at what was happening with the virus, the pandemic.”
He added: “We’re dealing with one of the most serious decisions this Prime Minister and any Government has had to face, people have been pointing out quite rightly that tens of thousands of people were dying.
“The Prime Minister made a decision in that meeting to trigger a second lockdown, he made a subsequent decision to trigger a third lockdown.
“This is a Prime Minister who was in hospital himself in intensive care.
“The idea that he would say any such thing I find incredible. “I was in that room, I never heard language of that kind.”
Defence Secretary Ben Wallace also said the reports of the outburst were “not true”.
He said: “Look, it is not true, it has been categorically denied by practically everyone.
“We are 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. The Prime Minister has been utterly focused on delivering, alongside Cabinet colleagues, the response to Covid.”
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