The Daily Mail reported yesterday [archive.org] that Prime Minister Boris Johnson, confronted by the economic costs of the Covid pandemic, told those present in a meeting to "let the bodies pile high in the thousands." Though the Mail is famed for publishing fabricated and misleading stories, the reporting has since been confirmed by BBC News and ITV News. The Times offered a further remark from Johnson: "Let Covid rip".
The Prime Minister's office denied that he made the remarks, but political cronies were not quite unequivocal in their own disavowals. Some 80,000 Britons have died of Covid since Johnson made the remark, bringing the total there to at least 127,000.
Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer said he was "astonished" by the reports adding: "Everybody would be deeply concerned, not least all those families who have lost someone in the pandemic." The prime minister was also strongly criticised by other opposition MPs in the House of Commons. Ms Reeves – Labour's shadow Cabinet Office minister – said the prime minister was a man who "would rather the bodies pile high than act on scientific advice – but they are not bodies; they are people, they are loved ones and they are deeply missed."
She called for an urgent public inquiry into the government's handling of the pandemic adding: "This is all about conduct, character and decency – frankly, our country deserves an awful lot better than this."
This is one of those stories that shows politics reflecting life on the ground. British conservatives may be a milder breed in general, but the lack of evangelical ideology leaves them freer to indulge Covid's silver linings.