DOWNING STREET has hit back at allegations Dominic Cummings was willing to sacrifice lives in order to spare the economy from coronavirus.
No.10 rubbished claims that Boris Johnson’s top aide said if ‘some pensioners die, too bad’.
But Sunday Times political editor Tim Shipman, who reported the comments, said he stood by his story.
And Buzzfeed reporter Alex Wickham said he had heard similar accounts of what Mr Cummings said about ‘herd immunity’ — the natural resistance to viruses that is acquired when most people have had them.
According to The Sunday Times, the aide said at an event late last month that No.10’s strategy for dealing with Covid-19 was ‘herd immunity, protect the economy and if that means some pensioners die, too bad’.
He is then said to have undergone a ‘Domoscene conversion’, becoming a staunch supporter of the social shutdown and financial stimulus tactics that Mr Johnson and chancellor Rishi Sunak have implemented.
But a Downing Street spokesman said yesterday: ‘This is a highly defamatory fabrication which was not put to No.10 by The Sunday Times before publication.
‘The article also includes a series of apparent quotes from meetings which are invented.’ Despite the health secretary Matt Hancock having consistently distanced himself from the herd immunity theory, his Labour opposite number Jon Ashworth was swift to jump on the allegations about Mr Cummings.
‘The absolute priority has to be saving lives and this must always be what is guiding the government’s decisions,’ said Mr Ashworth.
‘Attitudes like this will not be forgiven and people will be sickened by such comments.
‘Boris Johnson needs to show the leadership that this crisis demands.
‘We need clarity from government messages and ministers must channel all their energies into protecting people’s health, wellbeing and livelihoods.’