Asked whether he wanted to tax his way out of the crisis, he reportedly replied that Rishi Sunak, the Chancellor, was examining “innovative” solutions to help entrepreneurs emerge from the lockdown measures.

One Tory MP said the Prime Minister gave the impression that “they are looking at liberalising the tax regime rather than tightening it” and the Government would “look after” those on the lowest incomes.

Speaking about the Government’s coronavirus strategy and how to keep the infection rate down, Mr Johnson said: “We mustn’t let the mugger get back off the floor, and we’re going to play Whack-a-Mole across the country wherever coronavirus flares up.”

Looking ahead, he suggested he would examine reforming how health quango PHE is run once lessons from the Government’s handling of the crisis start to be learned.

One MP said Mr Johnson told them: “We’re going to have to look at thorough reform of these bodies”.

The Prime Minister was asked whether he needed to sharpen up his communications operation, with an MP questioning Number 10’s “clarity of messaging” after the “Stay Home” slogan was dropped in England and replaced with “Stay Alert”.

The PM reportedly replied: “Absolutely not. We have done polling – 80 per cent of the respondents said the message was absolutely clear, it is one of common sense. They knew what the Government was asking for.”

He then added, to laughter: “What people are underestimating is the marmoreal, Mount Rushmore common sense of the British people.”

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