Rishi Sunak denies saying it was ‘OK’ to ‘just let people die’ of Covid

Rishi Sunak denies saying it was ‘OK’ to ‘just let people die’ of Covid

Rishi Sunak has denied saying it was “OK” to let people die of coronavirus.

The Prime Minister was asked about a diary entry by Sir Patrick Vallance, who was the UK Government’s chief scientific adviser during the pandemic, that was shared with the UK Covid-19 Inquiry.

The extract from October 25 2020 read that Boris Johnson, when he was prime minister, had argued for “letting” Covid “rip” through the population as ministers debated a second lockdown in England.

The same entry has Sir Patrick recording that Dominic Cummings, Mr Johnson’s most senior adviser at the time, as having said: “Rishi thinks just let people die and that’s OK.”

During Prime Minister’s Questions on Wednesday, Labour MP Tulip Siddiq said she was “shocked that Downing Street didn’t categorically deny” the comments when asked about them by reporters last week.

Sir Patrick Vallance
Former chief scientific adviser Sir Patrick Vallance had mentioned a reference to Rishi Sunak saying it was ‘OK’ to let people die of Covid (Lucy North/PA)

Speaking in the Commons, she said: “Can I ask the Prime Minister today, how is it that people who were closest to this issue, who he worked with day in, day out at the top of Government, how on earth did these people get the impression that the Prime Minister was OK with people in our country dying?”

Mr Sunak said he looked forward to providing his own evidence to the inquiry as he denied making the remark.

Replying to Ms Siddiq, the Prime Minister said: “If she had taken the time to actually read the evidence submitted to the inquiry, she will have seen that the person she mentioned, the chief scientific adviser, confirmed he did not hear me say that.

“And that is because I didn’t.”

Mr Sunak and Mr Johnson are both expected to give evidence to the inquiry before Christmas.