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During Covid, callous Tories knew this about old people: they’re very expensive | Polly Toynbee

From pensions to health to social care, this government has done precious little to prepare for an ageing population

Let “the bodies pile high in their thousands”, Boris Johnson supposedly said. Not once but often, the Covid inquiry has heard that he was for killing off elderly people, “obsessed with older people accepting their fate”. According to the invaluable diary of the chief scientific adviser, Sir Patrick Vallance, our prime minister was saying “that’s nature’s way of dealing with old people” as he complained “we are destroying the economy for people who will die anyway soon”.

It wasn’t just him. The chief whip, Mark Spencer, allegedly said: “I think we should let the old people get it and protect the others”, to which Johnson replied: “A lot of my backbenchers agree with that, and I must say I agree with them.” So this was not one irritable remark, but a theme aired many times around tables where people didn’t get up and leave the room: many are still in government, presumably including Rishi Sunak, the eat-out-to-help-spread-Covid chancellor at the time.

Polly Toynbee is a Guardian columnist

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