The UK has denied a report in an Italian newspaper claiming that Prime Minister Boris Johnson went to Italy last weekend, saying he had not travelled to the country in recent months.
La Repubblica said Johnson was seen in Perugia from September 11 to 14, citing a statement from the city’s airport. It reported that he had travelled there to baptise his baby son Wilfred.
“This story is completely untrue,” a spokesman for Johnson’s Downing Street office said. “The prime minister has not travelled to Italy in recent months. Anyone who publishes these claims is repeating a falsehood.”
Earlier, British Transport Secretary Grant Shapps also said the report was wrong.
“As I understand it, it is completely untrue. I double-checked this morning and it is an erroneous story,” Shapps said.
But on September 17, Perugia’s San Francesco d’Assisi airport said in a press release: “Personalities from the political, sporting and economic world have arrived here in Perugia.
“From Prada CEO Patrizio Bertelli to the British PM Boris Johnson, preceded by [ex-UK PM] Tony Blair and not least the champion footballer Luis Suarez from Barcelona”.
La Repubblica said Perugia airport’s spokesperson had confirmed Johnson’s arrival, saying that “Johnson and Blair were here in Perugia last week”.
An airport worker told the Italian newspaper that Johnson had arrived in the city either on September 10 or 11. Meanwhile, another source claimed that he had arrived on September 11 and left on the 14th.
Johnson was last seen in Perugia in 2018, when he was foreign secretary, while attending a party hosted by Russian billionaire Evgeny Lebedev, the owner of the Conservative-leaning London-based Evening Standard newspaper.
The claim of Johnson’s recent Italy trip comes amid surging COVID-19 cases in the UK, with nearly 400,000 infections to date and 41,866 reported deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University.
Health Minister Matt Hancock said Friday that novel coronavirus infections were accelerating across the country, but refused to say whether another national lockdown was on the cards.