Harry Potter star Miriam Margolyes sparked outrage on Friday when she admitted she had hoped British Prime Minister Boris Johnson would die after he contracted the coronavirus.
When asked during a Channel 4 comedy show how she felt the government had dealt with the coronavirus pandemic, the Jewish actress, who played Professor Pomona Sprout in the series, made the controversial comments.
“Appallingly, of course, appallingly. It’s a disgrace, it’s a scandal. It’s a public scandal,” she said. “I mean, I had difficulty not wanting Boris Johnson to die. I wanted him to die. Then I thought that will reflect badly on me and I don’t want to be the sort of person that wants people to die. So then I wanted him to get better, which he did, but he didn’t get better as a human being and I really would prefer that. So, we’re in the shit, basically, here.”
The 55-year-old Johnson, who spent three nights in intensive care during his week of treatment in a London hospital after falling ill with COVID-19, told The Sun newspaper on Sunday he was aware that doctors were preparing for the worst.
It's always worth looking up why Miriam Margolyes is trending —pic.twitter.com/pjrlfXgVp2
— Jeremy Vine (@theJeremyVine) May 9, 2020
Johnson and the UK government have come under fire over the response to the pandemic, with opposition politicians saying Britain’s coronavirus death toll could have been lower if a nationwide lockdown had been imposed sooner.
Britain on Tuesday became the country with the world’s second-highest cumulative coronavirus death toll, behind only the United States, after updated official figures released showed it had surpassed Italy.
The British government said about 28,700 people with COVID-19 had died in hospitals, nursing homes and other settings, while Italy reported close to 29,100 fatalities. Both figures are almost certainly underestimates because they include only people who tested positive, and testing was not widespread in Italian and British nursing homes until recently.
Yet official British statistics released on people who died with suspected COVID-19 put the country’s toll at more than 30,000 as of April 24, or one-third higher than the government count at the time. A comparable figure for Italy was not available.
It was not the first time Margolyes has made controversial comments — in 2014 she blamed “stupid” Israel for the uptick in anti-Semitism following the Gaza war that summer against the Hamas terror group.
“I loathe Hamas, but they were democratically elected and Israel’s behavior is not acceptable,” she told the Radio Times. “Anti-Semitism is horrible and can’t be defended, but Israel is stupid for allowing people to vent it.”
Last year she signed a letter asking the BBC to boycott the Eurovision song contest because it was held in Israel.
“Eurovision may be light entertainment, but it is not exempt from human rights considerations – and we cannot ignore Israel’s systematic violation of Palestinian human rights,” read the letter, which was sent ahead of the UK choosing its entry for the international song contest.