"That's not my boss": minister refutes 'let the bodies pile high' claim levelled at PM

26 April 2021, 09:58 | Updated: 26 April 2021, 10:13

By Maddie Goodfellow

Defence Secretary Ben Wallace has denied reports that the Prime Minister said he would rather see "bodies pile high in their thousands" than order a third lockdown, telling LBC "that's not my boss".

On Monday, The Daily Mail carried a claim that following the lockdown the Prime Minister had said he would rather see "bodies pile high in their thousands" than order a third one.

The paper did not give a source for the allegation, which it said Downing Street had dismissed as "just another lie".

Speaking to Nick Ferrari at breakfast on LBC, Mr Wallace was asked: "Does that sound like your boss?"

"No it doesn't, and I've known him for many years, more years than most of my colleagues," he replied.

"That's not my boss. My boss feels every difficult decision because he knows about people and he wants life to be successful for everyone. And that's a really hard job in a pandemic.

"My boss has delivered those vaccination rates, and a steady step out of lockdown which we are now seeing.

"Whereas across the channel and on the continent we are still not seeing that. That is my boss, and he has put his heart and soul into that, and I am proud to serve with him and Prime Minister and proud of the outcomes we are delivering."

Ben Wallace spoke to Nick Ferrari on LBC
Ben Wallace spoke to Nick Ferrari on LBC. Picture: PA / LBC

Another Tory ministers also jumped to defend the claims against Boris Johnson as "outright lies".

Health minister Nadine Dorries dismissed claims that Boris Johnson had said he would rather see "bodies pile high in their thousands" than face a third lockdown.

She tweeted: "This is an outright lie. Not one named source or substantiated fact.

"Days before Hartlepool by election and a wide set of local/PCC/Mayoral elections.

"It's mendacious, vexatious co ordinated gossip given in order to negatively influence the outcome," she claimed.

The remarks were reportedly made after the Prime Minister agreed to a second lockdown, and suggest Mr Johnson was prepared to face a mounting death toll rather than order a third set of tough restrictions, something he was eventually forced to do.

The decision on the second lockdown last autumn was leaked and is the subject of an inquiry to find the so-called "chatty rat" who tipped off the press.

The UK's most senior civil servant is expected to indicate he has not cleared Mr Johnson's former adviser Dominic Cummings over that leak, despite the ex-aide's claims to the contrary.

Simon Case, the Cabinet Secretary, is expected to say his inquiry is still "live" when he appears before the Commons Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs Committee (PACAC) on Monday.

Mr Cummings has accused Mr Johnson of seeking to block the investigation after learning that a close friend of his fiancee, Carrie Symonds, had been implicated, a claim the Prime Minister denied.

In an incendiary blog post, Mr Cummings went on to say that Mr Case had told Mr Johnson that neither he nor the then No 10 director of communications, Lee Cain, was the culprit.

However officials familiar with the investigation said that it had neither "landed" on any one individual nor exonerated anyone.

The disclosure is likely to further anger Mr Cummings, who released his onslaught after he was accused by No 10 of a series of damaging leaks, including text message exchanges between Mr Johnson and the entrepreneur Sir James Dyson.

Ministers are now concerned at what he may say when he gives evidence to MPs investigating the Government's response to the pandemic next month.

Mr Cummings is widely known to have been critical of Mr Johnson's delay in launching a second lockdown in England when cases began rising last autumn, and there is speculation he will seek to blame him for the high death toll.