Boris Johnson clashes with Covid Inquiry KC over alleged ‘let it rip comments

Boris Johnson says ‘this is all rubbish’ when asked about his let it rip comment

A shirty Boris Johnson told the Covid Inquiry to focus on what he actually said and did during the pandemic, rather than relying on “people’s jottings from meetings”.

Mr Johnson got visibly irritated with the inquiry’s top KC, Hugo Keith, during his second day giving evidence to the statutory probe.

Mr Keith read out diary entries from Patrick Vallance, which claimed that he had discussions with the PM about “letting it rip”.

The former PM hit back, arguing the phrase was “in common parlance at the time and remains so”, nor did he come up with it himself.

While Mr Keith continued reading extracts from Sir Patrick’s diary, Mr Johnson was seen muttering “this is all rubbish!” while shaking his head.

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Mr Keith accused the former Prime Minister of secretly holding views that people should die “when they have reached their time anyway”.

Mr Johnson hit back, thumping the table, and refuted the “completely wrong” implications the inquiry was trying to draw from Sir Patrick’s diary entries.

He said: “My position was that we had to save human life at all ages, and that was the objective of the strategy.

“By the way, that is what we did; if you look at what we actually did – never mind the accounts that you have culled from people’s jottings from meetings that I have been in – if you look at what I actually said and what I actually did, and there is abundant quotation from me – millions of words that I spoke in parliament or in press conferences – we went into lockdown as soon as we could first time around…”

He argued that it “does not do justice to what we did, our thoughts, our feelings, my thoughts, my feelings, to say that we were remotely reconciled to fatalities across the country, nor that I believe it was acceptable to ‘let it rip’.”

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An impassioned Mr Johnson argued he “had to challenge the consensus in the meeting”.

He said: “You’ve gotta understand, these meetings comprised an overwhelming number of very talented and brilliant public health officials, civil servants and so on, and I was representing the only lay person in the meeting.

“I had to speak for everybody who wasn’t in the meeting and wanted these points put to the scientists before I went out to explain them.”

He invited the inquiry to look at what he actually said in Cabinet and did, rather than relying on salacious WhatsApp messages and single-sourced diary entries.

Mr Johnson also clashed with Hugo Keith yesterday, when the lead probe claimed Britain performed the second worst for excess deaths than any other European country.

Mr Johnson said this was not true, and it was later proven that the inquiry had presented a list of five random countries, among which the UK was the second worst.

In reality, the UK had fewer excess deaths than countries like Italy, Portugal and Spain, and was comparable with Austria and Belgium.

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