Ross defends PM over alleged ‘bodies pile high’ comment

The Scottish Tory leader backed Boris Johnson, saying he had been 'very clear he did not make the comments'.

Ross defends PM over alleged ‘bodies pile high’ comment STV News

Scottish Tory leader Douglas Ross has defended the Prime Minister as a row erupted over comments Boris Johnson was alleged to have made.

SNP Westminster leader Ian Blackford insisted the Prime Minister had a “duty to resign” if the remarks attributed to him were true.

Johnson has strongly denied saying he was prepared to let “bodies pile high” rather than order another coronavirus lockdown.

The remarks were reportedly made after the Prime Minister agreed to a second lockdown for England, and suggest he was prepared to face a mounting death toll rather than impose a third set of tough restrictions – although he was eventually forced to do so.

Ross said the remarks, if made, were “completely indefensible and unacceptable”.

And while he said he had not asked Johnson directly if he had made the remarks, he backed the Prime Minister.

The Scottish Tory leader, who was pressed on the issue as he campaigned in the run up to the May 6 Holyrood election, said: “The Prime Minister and Number 10 have been very clear he did not make the comments that have been suggested.

“Those comments, made by anyone at any level of elected office in the country would be utterly unacceptable.

“I don’t think I would want to say any more to give those comments any more air time, because they will be deeply troubling to the tens of thousands of families that have lost loved ones.

“But the Prime Minister has been clear he did not make those comments.”

He added: “No-one should make comments like that, in the middle of a global pandemic, when so many families have been affected by this.

“I can’t say more strongly that comments like that are completely indefensible and unacceptable. But the Prime Minister has said he did not make those comments.”

Blackford demanded the Prime Minister come to the Commons and answer questions on the “shocking claims” and also on the “growing Tory sleaze scandal”.

The SNP MP said: “These comments are utterly abhorrent. If they are true, Boris Johnson has a duty to resign.

“The Prime Minister must now come to Parliament to give a statement, and face questioning, on these shocking claims and the growing Tory sleaze scandal engulfing Westminster.”

He added: “The public have a right to know what is going on, and why the Tory government has been handing out multi-million-pound contracts, special access, tax breaks and peerages to Tory donors and friends.

“The difficulty for Boris Johnson is he has lied so many times it’s impossible for anyone to trust a word he says.

“A full independent public inquiry is the only way to provide transparency and accountability.”

Labour and the Lib Dems also condemned the reported remarks, with Scottish Labour leader Anas Sarwar saying: “This reported comment is repugnant and deeply distressing.

“More than 10,000 families in Scotland and 130,000 families across the UK are grieving the loss of a loved one.”

Liberal Democrat MP Alistair Carmichael said: “If this quote is correct, it is a truly atrocious comment from an atrocious Prime Minister.”

He added: “Boris Johnson and acolytes like Douglas Ross have delivered one of the highest death rates in the world. They should not now be trusted with leading the recovery.”

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