ichael Gove has denied that he heard Boris Johnson say he was prepared to let “bodies pile high” rather than order another coronavirus lockdown.

The Cabinet Office minister said on Monday that he “never heard language of that kind” in the meeting where Mr Johnson ordered the second shutdown in England.

Mr Johnson was accused of having made the remarks after agreeing to a second lockdown, suggesting he was prepared to face a mounting death toll rather than order a third set of tough restrictions.

MPs grilled Mr Gove on the allegation, with the Daily Mail having cited an individual “close to” the minister as being among the sources in its report on the claim.

“The idea that he would say any such thing I find incredible,” Mr Gove told the Commons.

He added that “I was in that room, I never heard language of that kind”, in a defence stopping short of a full denial that the comments had been made.

However, an ITV report suggested Mr Johnson made the remark in his study just after he agreed to the second lockdown.

Labour’s shadow chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster Rachel Reeves said: “The Prime Minister is now corrupting the standards of public life expected in high office.”

The Daily Mail first carried the claim that, following a decision on the second lockdown, the Prime Minister said he would rather see “bodies pile high in their thousands” than order a third one.

The paper did not name the source for the allegation, which was later also reported by the BBC citing “sources familiar with the talks”, but ministers hit out at “gossip” spread by “unnamed advisers”.

Boris Johnson said the issue was not being discussed on the doorstep

/ PA Wire

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