The Foreign Secretary could step-in to lead the country after the Prime Minister tested positive for coronavirus.
Boris Johnson, 55, has mild symptoms and is still expected to be in charge of how the Government handles the Covid-19 pandemic. But plans already in place for if he were to get sick mean Dominic Raab would temporarily take on the role of PM.
A Downing Street spokesman said as Foreign Secretary, Raab is First Secretary of State – implying seniority over everyone else in the cabinet. If the so-called ‘designated survivor’ also became sick, Johnson would be able to delegate responsibility to any of the other senior ministers.
But the spokesperson said for the time being ‘it’s the Prime Minister and then the Foreign Secretary’. Raab had twice tested negative for Covid-19 after he was seen coughing in the House of Commons.
Ministers had reportedly been lobbying for the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster Michael Gove to take the reins if Johnson fell ill or if he decided to take paternity leave for his child due later this year.
According to The Sunday Times, there have been ‘tensions’ between Gove and the Health Secretary, Matt Hancock, ‘over where responsibilities begin and end’.
The pair both stood alongside Raab in the Conservative leadership election to replace Theresa May as prime minister last year.
A Downing Street spokesman said Johnson experienced mild symptoms yesterday, a day after he answered at PMQ’s in the House of Commons.
In a video conference he said: ‘Over the last 24 hours I have developed mild symptoms and tested positive for coronavirus. I am now self-isolating, but I will continue to lead the government’s response via video-conference as we fight this virus.’
It was not immediately clear how many Downing Street staff and senior ministers would now need to isolate given that many have had contact with Johnson over recent days and weeks.
When Britain clapped hard working NHS staff last night, Johnson and Chancellor Rishi Sunak came out of separate entrances on Downing Street and did not come into close contact, according to a photographer at the scene.
So far, 578 people in the UK have died after testing positive for coronavirus and the number of confirmed cases has risen to 11,658.
The national toll is the seventh worst in the world, after Italy, Spain, China, Iran, France and the United States.
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Source: Metro News UK