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#AceNewsReport – Apr.27: Tuesday’s papers report mounting controversy around Prime Minister Boris Johnson over comments he allegedly made last year.

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Newspaper headlines: ‘Boris on ropes’ and new ‘let Covid rip’ claim

The i paper 27 April 2021
Boris Johnson is “tainted by sleaze” according to the headline of the i newspaper – which reports the results of an opinion poll of voters. It says half of those questioned believe there is a “culture of sleaze” within government. The paper also describes Cabinet Office Minister Michael Gove’s defence of Mr Johnson as a “wounding blow” – as it claims Mr Gove “refuses to deny” allegations the PM said last year “bodies could pile high” before he would approve a third lockdown in England. The PM insists the claim is “total rubbish”.

BBC News: Staff:

“Slurry of sleaze” is the Metro’s take – as it reports Labour’s criticism of the “sewage of allegations” against Mr Johnson, who is pictured in a cowshed with the picture caption “Talking bull?”. The paper says the PM is being “swamped” by scandal and “fighting devastating claims” around the “bodies” comments he is said to have made last year. Away from Westminster, the paper pictures the young British stars who took home Oscars on Sunday – Daniel Kaluuya and Emerald Fennell.The PM is “on the ropes” and “under siege” says the Daily Mail. It describes mounting questions over Mr Johnson’s “personal conduct” amid what it says is a “string of controversies”. The paper highlights that its exclusive on Monday – reporting the alleged “bodies” comments – was “confirmed” later in the day by the BBC and ITV.

Elsewhere, the Mail hails the “dazzling” Oscar winners Daniel Kaluuya and Emerald Fennell and highlights “oh how different their life stories are”.The Times carries new allegations that Mr Johnson said he would rather let coronavirus “rip” rather than impose a second lockdown last year. The paper says the PM made the remark in September as he argued there was “no evidence” lockdowns worked and “described them as mad”. No 10 describes the new claims as “gross distortions of his position”.

Elsewhere, the Times reports the Duke of York “has gone into business” with a ex-Coutts banker who quit amid allegations of sexual assault.The hunt for an alleged “chatty rat” mole in No 10 is akin to the plot from BBC drama Line of Duty, the Sun says. It mocks up an AC-12 case file with the headline “Lying of Duty” – as it claims even MI5 spooks are “baffled” over the identity of the person who leaked details of England’s second lockdown to journalists last year. Meanwhile, the paper is offering its readers the chance to “win” a cut-price version of the PM’s controversial flat makeover.

The Guardian says Conservative insiders are adding weight to reports the PM said he would rather see bodies pile up than lock down the country for a third time. It says the PM is “faced with fury” from the bereaved. Elsewhere, the paper reports the new sentence given to British-Iranian mother Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe in Iran and demands for an inquiry into fines given out during the pandemic. The paper also celebrates its own success at this year’s Oscars for the short documentary, Colette.No 10 “fights back over war of words” says the Daily Express. The paper notes Mr Johnson’s denial over the claim he said “let bodies pile high” – as he pledges to “focus relentlessly on battling Covid”. Unlike the other tabloids papers, it makes 83-year-old Sir Anthony Hopkins the focus of its Oscars coverage after he won the best actor prize.

The Daily Mirror carries an emotional image of the Covid-19 memorial wall outside St Thomas’ Hospital in London. “Not just bodies, Boris.. we loved them” is its headline. The paper says grieving families have branded the PM “callous” for the alleged comment – that the PM denies saying.An irreverent Daily Star depicts the PM ablaze above the headline “my pants are not on fire…”. As it details the claim and counterclaim over Mr Johnson’s alleged “bodies” comments, it asks: “Gosh, who to believe?”

The Times leads with a fresh claim – reporting that Mr Johnson allegedly told Downing Street aides last September that he would rather let coronavirus “rip” than impose a second lockdown because of the economic harm it would cause. 

According to the paper, the prime minister is said to have argued that there was no evidence lockdowns worked and described them as “mad”. He’s also said to have expressed regret about the first lockdown, the paper adds. 

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

Other papers lead with the fallout from yesterday’s claim that – in a separate debate – the prime minister had suggested he would rather see “bodies pile high” than order another lockdown. 

“Boris on the ropes”, is the headline in the Daily Mail, which broke the story. It says questions have mounted over his personal conduct in a string of controversies. 

The Daily Mirror has a picture of relatives at the Covid-19 memorial wall in London, with the headline: “Not just bodies, Boris … we loved them”

Mr Johnson has denied making the remarks. 

An opinion poll for the i newspaper suggests that 50% of voters agree there’s a “culture of sleaze” in the government. Some 11% disagree and 29% neither agree nor disagree. The poll of 1,500 people was carried out for the paper by Redfield & Wilton Strategies over the weekend.

A senior government source tells the Daily Telegraph that the prime minister will tell a cabinet meeting the government must stay totally focused on the public’s priorities. 

The paper says the message is an attempt to draw a line under a fierce briefing war between No 10 and Mr Johnson’s former senior aide, Dominic Cummings. “PM fights to move on from leaks row” is the paper’s front page headline.

There’s strong criticism of Iran for sentencing the British-Iranian charity worker, Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, to another year in jail for spreading “propaganda”. 

In the view of the Times, she remains a captive of Iranian domestic politics and complex geopolitical calculations. It says the UK government looks increasingly helpless in this crisis. The Sun describes the new jail term as sickening – and says she’s being held a hostage, not a prisoner.

Finally, the papers have been perusing Royal Ascot’s annual style guide – and the Telegraph has spotted the arrival of a new fashion accessory for 2021: the face mask. 

They will be compulsory this year, and the paper reports that while people opting for the ordinary blue masks won’t be refused entry, they are being encouraged to go for something more elegant. 

Many milliners and fashion designers have already added face coverings to their collections with plenty of option to complement their outfits, the paper adds. 

An Ascot spokesman is quoted as saying: “People are desperate to dress up and do something fun with their friends. This adds another dimension”.

#AceNewsDesk report ……….Published: Apr.27: 2021:

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