Actions speak louder than words: PM DIDN'T let bodies pile high… and he DID save lives

BORIS JOHNSON yesterday denied saying bodies could “pile up in their ­thousands” before he would order a third Covid lockdown.

And he claimed voters are more interested in his “levelling up” policy than tittle-tattle about his fiancée, Carrie, their dog Dilyn, and the cost of Downing Street wallpaper.

But a Mori poll carried out just as the saga gathered pace shows a five-point slump in Tory fortunes a week before crucial elections, including the knife-edge vote in Labour-held Hartlepool.

Voters ARE paying attention. Despite their continuing ­support for the battle against Covid and the jabs roll-out, the so-called sleaze saga is beginning to bite.

To pile on the agony, new Cabinet Secretary Simon Case — a boy sent to do man’s job — was savaged by MPs probing low conduct in high places.

He stammered his way through interrogation by the Committee on Standards in Public Life like a badly rehearsed understudy who had forgotten his lines.

Ex-Labour deputy leader John McDonnell speared the stuttering mandarin, comparing his performance to a “badly written script for Yes, Prime Minister”.

Case told the committee that the upkeep and refurbishment of ministerial country residences Chequers and Dorneywood are paid from a ­charitable trust — as indeed is the American White House. Surely the PM’s full-time abode over the shop in ­Downing Street should be too?

But let’s start with those body piles. It now seems ­several witnesses heard the PM’s explosive outburst after last year’s decision to lock Britain down for a second time. But if reports are true, the context of his emotional spasm is vitally important.

Even Boris’s worst enemies — of which there are many — surely don’t believe he is so malicious as to condemn ­thousands of innocent citizens to an untimely death.

Extreme emergency

Being PM in the midst of a crisis requires big and quick decisions on a moment-by-moment basis — some literally a matter of life and death.

Fighting the Covid pandemic is like fighting a war. In war, casualties are inevitable. They must be weighed in the balance against other lethal costs. It’s a massive burden of responsibility for any leader.

OK, that’s what Boris asked for when he stood for the top job. Any aspiring PM should be prepared for moments of national disaster. But at that particular instant — as the new Kent variant began to take a grip — there was no indication Britain faced the enormous surge that burst upon us in the ensuing weeks.

Sure, a small but containable rise was predicted by experts on all sides, not a soaring increase dwarfing the first wave.

There were real and powerful counter-arguments that a ­second lockdown would cost even more lives of undiagnosed and untreated cancer, stroke, heart and kidney patients.

And there was the undoubted threat to the economy, to jobs, mental health and the future life chances of children robbed of almost a year of full-time schooling.

With hindsight, Boris might have kept his mouth zipped. But he surely had the right to believe he was speaking ­privately, among trusted ­colleagues — as any Prime Minister or chief executive would expect.

There was no way he thought he would be betrayed by any of those allowed into this inner sanctum — least of all his right-hand man and consigliere, Dominic Cummings.

More to the point, actions speak louder than words. There WAS a second lockdown. It DID save lives.

The Stay Home measures ordered by Boris on that day were among the toughest in the world. They continue to this day.

Voters know Britain’s miraculous vaccine roll-out led Europe and most of the world and saved countless lives — largely thanks to Boris. Yes, everyone makes mistakes. Especially at times of extreme emergency. And just imagine what might have been in a parallel universe.

Had Labour’s Keir Starmer been in power, especially if he listened to SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon, we would never have had those vaccines at all. We would still be stuck in a queue with 27 EU states, whose death tolls are rising today while ours is falling like a stone.

In France, where President Emmanuel Macron tried to sabotage our AstraZeneca jab, deaths have topped 100,000 with millions still unjabbed. There are many unique ­contributory factors to Britain’s fatality rate — we are a crowded island, a huge ­transport hub, we have the ­fattest people in Europe.

It’s easy to be wise after the event, especially if you secretively keep a detailed log of every phone call, text and ­conversation believed to have been conducted in private.

Selective leaks are devastating, especially when timed ruthlessly to cause maximum damage. There may be more to come.

But for those Tories already plotting to ditch this Prime Minister, it is worth asking once again which of them could have got Brexit done? Who else could have won an 80-seat majority in the middle of a Parliamentary crisis?

And who else would have scored 20 Labour strongholds behind the red wall and still — despite all the leaks and scandals — be favourite to win another in next week’s Hartlepool by-election?

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