Boris Johnson made a string of callous remarks as the Covid crisis unfolded – while resisting measures that could have saved lives, insiders claim.
This week former aide Dominic Cummings ramped up the pressure on the Prime Minister by making a string of explosive allegations about his former boss.
He claimed Mr Johnson rubbished scientists’ fears about the impact of the vaccine, branding it a “scare story” – and may have even suggested being injected with it on TV.
Mr Cummings also claimed the PM regretted putting the country in lockdown and told staffers that the virus “only” killed 80-year-olds.
Mr Johnson – who spent three days in intensive care last year after contracting coronavirus – has previously been accused of saying “let the bodies pile high in their thousands” as he resisted a second lockdown.
Here we look at some of the more extraordinary things the Prime Minister is claimed to have said during the unprecedented crisis.
‘No more f****** lockdowns – let the bodies pile high’
Last month reports emerged that the Prime Minister had a shocking response as pressure mounted on him to bring in a lockdown.
As cases soared and his opponents demanded a ‘circuit breaker’ lockdown to curb the wave of infections, Mr Johnson allegedly told Downing Street aides: “No more f****** lockdowns – let the bodies pile high in their thousands”.
It was reportedly said during a “heated discussion” at Number 10, with several sources collaborating the remark.
While there has since been disagreement over the exact wording, the PM has denied on the record and to Parliament that he made remarks to that effect, saying the claims were “total, total rubbish”.
Mr Cummings this week told a joint inquiry of the Commons Health and Social Care and Science and Technology Committees: “I heard that in the Prime Minister’s study.
“That was not in September though, that was immediately after he finally made the decision to do the lockdown on October 31.”
Virus is ‘only’ killing 80 year olds
The PM was more worried about economic damage than thousands of deaths – telling aides that Covid was “only” killing 80-year-olds, it is claimed.
Mr Cummings this week told MPs that the PM argued against a second full lockdown because those who were dying were elderly.
And a source backed up the claim, telling the Mirror Mr Johnson had added: “If I was 80 I wouldn’t care, I’d be more worried about the economy”.
Challenged about the alleged remark, Mr Johnson failed to deny saying it.
At Prime Minister’s Questions on Wednesday, Labour leader Keir Starmer reminded the Prime Minister that more than 83,000 people over 80 lost their lives, and asked Mr Johnson directly if he had used the words.
The Tory leader dodged an answer, instead replying: “Of course this will be a matter for the inquiry to go into … I am absolutely confident that we took the decisions in the best interests of the British people.”
The Labour Party leader said: “I note that the Prime Minister’s careful not to refute these allegations.”
Should have been like Jaws mayor and not locked down
Mr Johnson voiced regret about putting England in lockdown and said he “should have been the mayor of Jaws” – a reference to the infamous 1975 disaster movie.
Addressing MPs this week, Mr Cummings claimed the Prime Minister was worried the travel industry would be “destroyed” if a serious border policy was implemented, and wished he had held firm against lockdowns.
The disgruntled former Downing Street advisor said the PM had ranted: “Lockdown was all a terrible mistake, I should’ve been the mayor of Jaws, we should never have done lockdown one, the travel industry will all be destroyed if we bring in a serious border policy.”
Larry Vaughn, the Mayor in the fictional town of Amity in the Steven Spielberg blockbuster, famously refused to close the beaches after a number of shark attacks – giving the predator free reign to kill again.
Mr Cummings said that the PM’s flawed logic had been pointed out to him, saying: “Some of us said there’s not going to be a tourism industry in the autumn if we have a second wave, the whole logic was completely wrong.”
Covid was ‘the new swine flu’ and a ‘scare story’
The Prime Minister failed to take the unfolding crisis seriously – dismissing it as a “scare story”, Mr Cummings claimed.
This would explain his failure to attend five COBRA meetings discussing the country’s response to the virus early last year.
The ex-Downing Street insider said: “The basic thought was that in February the Prime Minister regarded this as just a scare story.
“He described it as the new swine flu.”
Mr Cummings said that several in the Prime Minister’s circle advised him this was not the case, but to no avail.
The best thing would be to ignore it’
Worried that an overreaction would “do more harm than good”, the PM opted to bury his head in the sand, it is claimed.
Downing Street insiders told the BBC they had heard Mr Johnson say: “The best thing would be to ignore it.”
At the time, a source said there was no urgency in responding to the virus emerging in China, stating: “The general view was it is just hysteria. It was just like a flu.”
Did PM say he would be injected with coronavirus on live TV?
In another shocking claim, Mr Cummings claimed his former boss was so dismissive of the danger Covid posed that he plotted to be injected with in on live TV.
He told MPs: “The view of various officials inside No10 was if we have the Prime Minister chairing COBRA meetings and he just tells everyone ‘it’s swine flu, don’t worry about it, I’m going to get Chris Whitty to inject me live on TV with coronavirus so everyone realises it’s nothing to be frightened of’, that would not help actually serious planning.”
‘Chaos makes me look more powerful’
Mr Cummings claimed he told the PM last summer: “This whole system is chaos, this building is chaos, You are more frightened of me having the power to stop the chaos than you are afraid of the chaos.”
He told MPs: “The PM laughed and said ‘you’re right, I am more frightened of you having the power to stop the chaos than I am of the chaos.
‘Chaos isn’t that bad. Chaos means everyone has to look to me to see who’s in charge.’”
Branded Keir Starmer a ‘political opportunist’ for calling for lockdown
The PM resisted calls for a lockdown in October, as cases rose and hospital admissions started to rise again.
Instead he doubled down and dismissed Labour – which called for a ‘circuit breaker’ to stop the virus in its tracks.
When Keir Starmer called for a second lockdown in October, a senior No10 aide briefed the media: “Keir Starmer is a shameless opportunist playing political games in the middle of a global pandemic.”
He then went on to describe Labour as the “party of endless lockdowns’.
He eventually locked down more than two weeks later – having cost thousands of lives, experts believe.