THE Prime Minister of the United Kingdom Boris Johnson said he would rather "let Covid rip" than go into a second lockdown last October, fresh allegations have claimed.

Mr Johnson was reported on Monday night to have argued during a Government debate in September that lockdowns were “mad” as he raised concerns about the economic harm they cause.

Downing Street described the claims in the Times as “gross distortions” of Mr Johnson’s position, as he battled a bitter briefing war that has engulfed No 10.

It follows explosive reports from a wide number of sources yesterday that Boris Johnson had said he was prepared to "let the bodies pile high in their thousands" than order a third lockdown, an allegation he said was "total rubbish".

More than 127,000 people have died from Covid-19 in the UK, including more than 75,000 since Johnson allegedly made these comments.

In the latest criticism of his handling of the coronavirus crisis, the Times reported that Mr Johnson repeatedly said he would rather “let it rip” than impose the second lockdown because restrictions would close businesses and cause job losses.

Throughout the pandemic Johnson has been criticised for acting "too slowly" to put the UK into each of its three lockdowns.

A No 10 spokesman said: “These are gross distortions of his position. Throughout this pandemic we’ve done everything we can to save lives and protect livelihoods.”

Mr Johnson ultimately announced the second lockdown for England in October, but his alleged comments are the latest to rock Downing Street amid a briefing war.

The Prime Minister was earlier accused of saying he would rather see “bodies pile high in their thousands” than order a third shutdown.

After the Daily Mail first reported the remarks, the BBC and ITV were among those to repeat the allegations, citing their own sources.

Cabinet Office minister Michael Gove defended Mr Johnson, telling the Commons it is “incredible” to think he would have made the remark.

Mr Gove said that “I was in that room, I never heard language of that kind”, in a defence stopping short of a full denial that the comments had been made.

ITV’s report suggested Mr Johnson made the remark in his study just after he agreed to the second lockdown.

The Prime Minister denied making the comment, telling reporters in Wrexham: “No, but I think the important thing I think people want us to get on and do as a Government is to make sure that the lockdowns work."

Further details also surfaced yesterday of how he reportedly financed his flat refurbishment with cash from Conservative HQ which Johnson is now repaying.

A Downing Street spokesman said that the “costs of wider refurbishment have been met by the Prime Minister personally”, adding: “Gifts and benefits received in a ministerial capacity are, and will continue to be, declared in transparency returns.”

But Labour’s shadow chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster Rachel Reeves said: “This is yet another panicked attempt by the Conservatives to cover up the truth behind the original donors for the luxury refurbishment of the Downing Street flat.”

Cabinet Secretary Simon Case said the Prime Minister has asked him to review the matter, after former aide Dominic Cummings said Mr Johnson wanted donors to “secretly pay” for the work in a move which would have been “unethical, foolish, possibly illegal”.