UK: Dominic Raab Steps up as Boris Johnson’s Coronavirus Condition Worsens

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SWITZERLAND, APRIL 07 – United Kingdom’s Prime Minister Boris Johnson has been moved to intensive care in hospital after his coronavirus symptoms “worsened”, Downing Street has said. The Foreign Secretary has now been appointed to deputise for him.

A spokesman said he was moved on the advice of his medical team and was receiving “excellent care”.

Mr Johnson has asked Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab to deputise “where necessary”, the spokesman added.

The prime minister, 55, was admitted to hospital in London with “persistent symptoms” on Sunday evening.

The Queen has been kept informed about Mr Johnson’s health by No 10, according to Buckingham Palace.

BBC political correspondent Chris Mason said the prime minister was given oxygen late on Monday afternoon, before being taken to intensive care.

However, he has not been put on a ventilator.

A No 10 statement read: “The prime minister has been under the care of doctors at St Thomas’ Hospital, in London, after being admitted with persistent symptoms of coronavirus.

“Over the course of [Monday] afternoon, the condition of the prime minister has worsened and, on the advice of his medical team, he has been moved to the intensive care unit at the hospital.”

It continued: “The PM is receiving excellent care, and thanks all NHS staff for their hard work and dedication.”

Mr Raab – who will later chair the government’s daily Covid-19 meeting – said there was an “incredibly strong team spirit” behind the prime minister.

He added that he and his colleagues were making sure they implemented plans Mr Johnson had instructed them to deliver “as soon as possible”.

“That’s the way we’ll bring the whole country through the coronavirus challenge,” he said.

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer described it as “terribly sad news”.

“All the country’s thoughts are with the prime minister and his family during this incredibly difficult time,” he added.

Raab, a 46-year-old former lawyer, was elected to Parliament in 2010, and spent his entire political career on the same wing of the party that secretly yearned for Johnson to have a serious go at taking the reins.

Like Johnson, Raab is a longstanding advocate of Brexit who was willing to be a thorn in his own party’s side when it had more pro-European leadership.Despite his euroskeptic leanings, his qualities were noticed by that pro-European leadership, and when then-Prime Minister David Cameron won reelection in 2015, Raab was offered a job in government. At the time, Raab was seen as a rising star within the party, and his promotion was seen as a way for Cameron to bolster his own euroskeptic credentials.

Raab previously served in Theresa May’s cabinet as the Brexit secretary, only to resign in protest at the deal she eventually struck with the EU. And despite running against Johnson in last summer’s Conservative leadership contest, he has been extraordinarily loyal to the Prime Minister ever since.

While Raab is perhaps less socially liberal than Johnson, it is highly unlikely he would depart radically from the Prime Minister’s agenda in the short-term — not just because there simply isn’t enough time to change government policy during a time of national crisis, but also because the UK cabinet works on the principle of collective responsibility.

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