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Boris Johnson goes into self-isolation just as he tries to relaunch premiership

The situation comes as the Prime Minister wants to move forward on Covid, education, and environmental issues.

BORIS JOHNSON HAS gone into coronavirus self-isolation just as he tried to relaunch his premiership after several days of Downing Street infighting.

Johnson’s bid to reframe his tenure as Prime Minister was left in limbo after his meeting with Tory MP Lee Anderson who has since tested positive for Covid-19.

The Prime Minister, who was admitted to intensive care with coronavirus in April, said he was notified by NHS Test and Trace yesterday that he must self-isolate.

“I have no symptoms, but am following the rules and will be working from No10 as I continue to lead the government’s pandemic response,” he said.

The news comes at a politically sensitive time for the Prime Minister after the sudden exit from Downing Street of his senior adviser Dominic Cummings and communications director Lee Cain.

Downing Street had insisted Johnson would present a committed policy launch on social justice, “levelling up” and coronavirus over the coming weeks.

The move was being seen by some at Westminster as a bid by the Prime Minister to show he was still in control of the government’s agenda.

But as the announcement was made, Johnson was advised to self-isolate after attending a 35-minute meeting with a small group of MPs in Downing Street on Thursday morning.

Anderson, MP for Ashfield, Nottinghamshire, said on Facebook he lost his sense of taste on Friday and, after being tested on Saturday, received a positive result yesterday morning.

The two men were not wearing face coverings and did not appear to be two metres apart in a photo taken at Downing Street which Anderson posted on Facebook.

Number 10 said the “critical announcements” due over the coming weeks would send a “clear signal of his ongoing ambitions for the United Kingdom” with the Prime Minister expected to outline plans for dealing with issues like the Covid-19 pandemic and social inequality.

It was reported on Twitter that Johnson is expected to continue to make public statements from inside No 10, including on the government’s green plans.

This is also a pivotal week for Brexit, as negotiations with the EU reach their final phase.

Speaking on RTÉ’s Morning Ireland programme this morning, Foreign Affairs Minister Simon Coveney described the news as “a minor distraction”.

“But from an EU perspective, we’ve always been focused on the issues, not the personalities. And what I mean by that is, the EU negotiating mandate is crystal clear and hasn’t changed.

“Whether it was Prime Minister Theresa May or Prime Minister Boris Johnson, while the style has changed significantly, the EU still wants to try to achieve the same thing, which is fair competition, a trade agreement that avoids tariffs and quotas, a future relationship that creates a positive partnership between the EU and the UK into the future, the implementation of the protocol in Northern Ireland to protect peace to avoid border infrastructure on the islands,” he said.

Hybrid arrangements

Downing Street said Johnson will liaise with parliamentary authorities about remote participation in House of Commons proceedings. Under the “hybrid” parliament arrangements, MPs can only take part in some proceedings by video link.

Asked if Johnson would be able to take part remotely in Commons events, such as Prime Minister’s Question Time on Wednesday, a Number 10 spokesperson told the PA news agency: “I think that’s what they are trying to work through.”

It was reported Johnson told Tory MPs in a WhatsApp group message that “the rules are the rules” and he must self-isolate as advised although he feels “fine” and his “body is bursting with antibodies from the last time I had it”.

Johnson tested positive for Covid-19 at the end of March and was admitted to a London NHS hospital on 5 April, which Downing Street said was a “precautionary step” as his symptoms persisted.

He then spent three nights in an intensive care unit, later revealing it “could have gone either way” and thanked NHS staff for saving his life.

Press Association
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