Boris Johnson is today at the centre of a controversy after anonymous sources leaked information to the Daily Mail, claiming that the Prime Minister made a controversial comment about the coronavirus pandemic.
It is alleged that he said he would rather see the UK face more deaths than enter another lockdown (which he denies) and we will delve into the full context of this comment later.
This is not the only gaffe – alleged or otherwise – that he has made in the last year and there have indeed been numerous occasions in which the PM has well and truly said the wrong thing and frustrated the public in the process.
Here is a complete timeline of the times Johnson has found himself having to defend claims about what he has said on Covid:
“I shook hands with everybody”
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On 3 March 2020, mere weeks before the UK faced its first lockdown, the Prime Minister boasted about shaking hands with coronavirus patients in a hospital during a press conference.
It later emerged that Sage warned that the government should tell people to not shake hands or hug people on the very same day.
“Operation Last Gasp”
In late March last year, it was reported that Johnson made an inappropriate joke to manufacturers in a meeting about building more ventilators.
He is alleged to have said that the scheme to build so many in such a short time frame to deal with increased demand on the NHS could be called “Operation Last Gasp”.
People found it “disgraceful”:
“The reason we have the vaccine success is because of capitalism, because of greed my friends”.
In a private meeting of Tory MPs last month, the Prime Minister made this unfortunate quip then said he regretted saying it and asked MPs to “forget” it. It came amid fears that the EU could block the export of key ingredients used in the Pfizer jap to Britain. Not the best timing, then.
“People have had quite a few days off”
Days later, at the Conservative’s virtual spring forum, the Prime Minister was asked whether the UK can have a bank holiday called “national hangover day” when the pandemic is over.
Johnson said: “The general view is people have had quite a few days off, and it wouldn’t be a bad thing for people to see their way round to making a passing stab at getting back into the office.”
Unsurprisingly, those who have struggled to work from home in unideal environments, those who have needed to balance childcare and other commitments, and anyone else who has worked from home during the pandemic were deeply unimpressed.
“Let the bodies pile high”
And that leads us to the present. Claims emerged today that the Prime Minister said: “No more ****ing lockdowns – let the bodies pile high in their thousands!” while deciding whether to implement the second lockdown in November.
The paper did not give a source for the allegation, but ministers hit out at “gossip” spread by “unnamed advisers”, while Number 10 described it as “just another lie”.
Mr Johnson also denied the claims and, when asked about whether he had said it, told reporters in Wrexham: “No, but I think the important thing I think people want us to get on and do as a Government is to make sure that the lockdowns work.
“They have, and I really pay tribute to the people of this country, this whole country of ours, really pulled together and, working with the vaccination programme, we have got the disease under control.”
But people are furious:
With more leaks expected given the developing feud between Johnson and his former Chief Advisor, Dominic Cummings, we await more allegations about the Prime Minister.