Coronavirus: Rishi Sunak will succeed Dominic Raab if foreign secretary incapacitated, says No 10

Prime minister described as 'stable' and 'in good spirits' in intensive care – he does not have pneumonia and has still not required a ventilator

Rob Merrick
Deputy Political Editor
Tuesday 07 April 2020 13:55 BST
Boris Johnson in intensive care: who runs the country if the PM is unfit

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Rishi Sunak will take over prime ministerial duties if Dominic Raab is struck down by coronavirus while Boris Johnson is incapacitated, No 10 has revealed.

The order of so-called ‘designated survivor’ was revealed as Downing Street described Mr Johnson as “stable” and “in good spirits” – also disclosing he does not have pneumonia and has still not required a ventilator.

The spokesman declined to say whether he was able to sit up, or talk to anyone, but revealed he has still not spoken directly to Mr Raab, despite asking him to stand in “wherever necessary”.

And he warned the lockdown would continue automatically after Easter Monday – the end of the original three weeks of restrictions – unless ministers decided otherwise.

“There is no legal need for it to be renewed, it is not something that would lapse,” the spokesman said.

Revealing Mr Sunak is next in line if Mr Raab cannot carry on working, he said: “The chancellor would follow on from the foreign secretary.”

Mr Raab will not be given the honour of a weekly audience with the Queen, No 10 said, because they have been suspended while Mr Johnson is out of action.

However, the spokesman confirmed he did have the power – with the agreement of the cabinet – to take the UK to war if it was deemed necessary, even a nuclear conflict.

“The first secretary of state [Mr Raab] and the cabinet have the authority and ability to respond in the prime minister’s absence,” he said.

Downing Street also rejected Donald Trump’s bizarre claim that he was sending Mr Johnson medical aid, saying: “We are confident the prime minister is receiving the best possible care from the National Health Service.”

On his latest condition, in St Thomas' Hospital, in Westminster, he said: “The prime minister has been stable overnight and remains in good spirits.

“He is receiving standard oxygen treatment and breathing without any other assistance. He has not required mechanical ventilation or non-invasive respiratory support.”

The description suggests he has not been given an intensive treatment known as continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP), a step short of receiving a tube into the windpipe.

The spokesman also rejected any suggestions that No 10 had not been fully candid with the public about the seriousness of Mr Johnson’s condition, insisting: "We have been fully frank.”

And he dismissed the idea that a badly-needed ventilator might be being kept aside in case the prime minister required it – arguing there was “significant spare capacity” in the hospital and across the country.

Mr Raab was seen coughing earlier, but was said to be “fine” to host the daily press conference later, as he deputises for Mr Johnson.

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