Boris Johnson has denied reports he was prepared to let “bodies pile high” rather than order another coronavirus lockdown.
Asked on Monday if he had ever made the comment, prime minister said: “No.”
He added: “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.”
According to The Daily Mail, the prime minister said during a meeting in No.10 in October: “No more ****ing lockdowns — let the bodies pile high in their thousands.”
The paper did not give a source for the allegation. But ITV also reported on Monday two people had heard the PM make the statement.
Downing Street also said the reports were “untrue”.
It comes after Dominic Cummings, Johnson’s former top adviser, launched an extraordinary public attack on his former boss.
In a blog post on Friday, Cummings accused the PM of seeking to block the inquiry into who leaked plans for a second lockdown in England after learning that a close friend of his fiancee Carrie Symonds had been implicated.
“It is sad to see the PM and his office fall so far below the standards of competence and integrity the country deserves,” Cummings said.
Cummings also accused his former boss of plotting an “unethical, foolish, possibly illegal” plan to get Tory donors to secretly fund a lavish refurbishment of his Downing Street flat.
Labour leader Keir Starmer said he was “astonished” to read the reported “bodies” comment.
“If he did say those things then he’s got to explain it, if he didn’t, go on the record and publicly explain what was said and what wasn’t said,” Starmer said.
“I think everybody will be deeply concerned, not least those all families that have lost someone during this pandemic.”