Prime Minister Boris Johnson did make remarks suggesting that “bodies could pile high” during a heated discussion about lockdown in Downing Street in the autumn, the 24newsreads has been told.
On Monday, the Daily Mail reported that Mr Johnson had said “let the bodies pile high in their thousands” rather than order a third lockdown.
The PM denied making the remarks, adding that lockdowns had worked.
Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer said he was “astonished” by the reports.
He added that: “Everybody would be deeply concerned, not least all those families who have lost someone in the pandemic.
The comments are said to have been made at the end of October when England went into a four-week lockdown following a sharp rise in coronavirus cases.
24newsreads political editor Laura Kuenssberg says at the time the prime minister was reported to have had big concerns about the implications of another lockdown on the economy and non-Covid related health issues.
“This does take us back to that moment and back to the very serious claims made by some people who were involved in the decision making – including some ministers – that the hesitancy around the second lockdown did cost lives,” she said.
The story was labelled “not true” by Defence Secretary Ben Wallace and when asked about the comments earlier on Monday, Mr Johnson denied having made them.
He added that the public wanted the government “to make sure that the lockdowns work, and they have,” he said.