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Johnson blamed Welsh Covid rates on ‘singing and obesity’ – diary claims

07 Dec 2023 3 minute read
Chief Medical Officer for England Chris Whitty, Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Chief Scientific Adviser Sir Patrick Vallance during a press conference at Downing Street. Photo Frank Augstein/PA Wire

Boris Johnson allegedly blamed high rates of Covid-19 in Wales during the pandemic on “singing and obesity”.

The apparent comments were included in the diary of Sir Patrick Vallance, the Government’s former chief scientific adviser.

They were dated September 2020.

Sir Patrick wrote: “Wales very high – PM says ‘It is the singing and the obesity… I never said that’.”

The full context of the alleged comments is unclear.

Extract

Mr Johnson was presented with the diary extract by Pete Weatherby KC, who represents Covid Bereaved Families for Justice, at the UK Covid-19 Inquiry on Thursday, but he was not asked about the entry.

Parts of Wales in September 2020 were among the areas of the UK hardest hit by the virus.

Appearing before the Covid-19 Inquiry as he gave his second day of evidence, Mr Johnson was pressed on diary extracts from Sir Patrick, on his thinking in the second half of the year.

Sir Patrick, in one diary entry in August, said Mr Johnson was “obsessed with older people accepting their fate and letting the young get on with life and the economy going”.

In another entry from October, the top scientist said the then-prime minister was “obsessed with the average age of death being 82”.

‘Let it rip’

Later, in May 2021, Sir Patrick wrote: “PM meeting – Cx (Chancellor, then Rishi Sunak) suddenly pipes up on incentives already in place. Argues that we should let it rip a bit.”

Mr Johnson firmly denied that the extracts represented a glimpse into a government that favoured no national lockdown “until the last possible moment” and instead backed a tiered system.

Pointing to the “the accounts that you have culled from people’s jottings from meetings that I’ve been in,” he defended the measures taken by the Government.

“I think, frankly, it does not do justice to what we did – our thoughts, our feeling, my thoughts, my feelings, to say that we were remotely reconciled to fatalities across the country or that I believed that it was acceptable to let it rip.”

Mr Johnson said that the “let it rip” phrase was in “common parlance” and that he was “representing the only layperson in the meeting”.

Elsewhere in the hearing he said the Eat Out to Help Out scheme was not seen as a “gamble” at the time. He claimed to be “perplexed” at the suggestion top scientists were unaware of the scheme.

Leading Government scientists, as well as former health secretary Matt Hancock, have claimed they were not told in advance about the plan to revive the hospitality industry in the summer of 2020.

He also admitted that the tier system, introduced in a bid to stem cases of Covid-19 during the pandemic, did not work but insisted it was “worth a try”.

Asked about the furore over Dominic Cummings’ infamous trip to Barnard Castle, he described it as a “bad moment”.


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Frank
Frank
2 months ago

…. and there’s me thinking that the obese Johnson was keen on partying!!! Silly me! I am sure that library videos show him looking like a bag if 💩 when out running.

Frank
Frank
2 months ago
Reply to  Frank

Correction: “of 💩”

Last edited 2 months ago by Frank
hdavies15
hdavies15
2 months ago
Reply to  Frank

Nothing worse than a high profile kettle calling pots black. The podgy man is not even trying very hard, probably thought his comment would be seen as “funny” much like all those sheep jokes so popular with a certain type of Anglo moron.

Dai Ponty
Dai Ponty
2 months ago

Podge calling Welsh People Overweight bloody ironic he reminds of BUNTER the fat public schoolboy on T V in the 1950,s but he is a stereotype of what people Tory mainly of affluent South east of England think Back in the 1970,s whilst working as a miner a group of our miners from the pit got invited to a village in Kent they where treated and looked after well playing bowls and other games against the village teams and they really believed us miners went to the pit in the morning singing like in the film HOW GREEN WAS MY… Read more »

Ianto
Ianto
2 months ago
Reply to  Dai Ponty

….with a harp over your shoulder, and a laver-bread pie in your pocket

Richard Davies
Richard Davies
2 months ago

I felt a whole lot safer, during the pandemic, thanks to living in Wales!

It is such an insult to blame singing and obesity for the effects of the pandemic on Wales.

As I have said about boris johnson before, no-one was less fit to be prime minister than he. He was, and continues to be, a national embarrassment!

Ianto
Ianto
2 months ago

Shock horror…..unkempt blob who caught Covid blames obesity. I wonder if he can sing?

Ann
Ann
2 months ago

He obviously didn’t know that, unlike those working in No 10, choirs and churches here in Cymru understood and kept the rules about social distancing so there was no singing !

Sarah Good
Sarah Good
2 months ago

Then perhaps the obese PM should have banned signing from his many wild Covid parties

Bereaved and Concerned
Bereaved and Concerned
2 months ago

And to think, certain people think that there should be one specific pandemic team for the UK as a whole when the continued xenophobia towards and against the people of Wales is layed bare for all to see..

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