Boris Johnson to pause recuperation for phone call with Trump and audience with Queen

Downing Street says Boris Johnson 'isn't formally doing government work'

Ashley Cowburn
Political Correspondent
Tuesday 21 April 2020 14:03 BST
(AFP/Getty Images)

Boris Johnson will break off his from his recuperation at Chequers to speak with Donald Trump and hold his first virtual audience with the Queen since being admitted to hospital with coronavirus.

In a sign the prime minister is edging himself back into work, No 10 said he continues to receive daily updates from Downing Street on the government’s response to the covid-19 pandemic.

But his spokesperson insisted the PM “isn’t formally doing government work” and is continuing his recovery at his countryside residence, where he has been staying since leaving St Thomas’ Hospital nine days ago.

Dominic Raab, the first secretary of state and foreign secretary, will continue to deputise in Mr Johnson’s absence and will step in for him at prime minister’s questions on Wednesday – facing new Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer.

“He has been receiving updates from Number 10 on the coronavirus response and has spoken with the first secretary of state and with senior members of his team,” Mr Johnson’s spokesperson said.

“Yesterday he sent a message of condolence to Justin Trudeau after the very sad loss of life in the shooting in Canada. Later today, at around 2pm, he will be speaking with president Trump.”

The spokesperson added he will receive an update from the US president on last week’s G7 virtual conference, and also thank Mr Trump for the messages of support during his time in intensive care at the central London hospital.

“Later this week, the prime minister is expected to have an audience with Her Majesty the Queen. That will be the first for three weeks,” No 10 added.

However, the prime minister’s spokesman denied suggestions Mr Johnson had returned to work, insisting: “In terms of when the PM does return to work he will be guided by the advice of his medical team.

“He is receiving updates on the coronavirus response and making some calls, but the first secretary of state continues to deputise for the prime minister and will take prime minister’s questions and also chair a cabinet on Thursday.”

It also emerged Mr Johnson had held a meeting at Chequers on Friday with Mr Raab and his senior adviser Dominic Cummings, and urged caution over relaxing the UK-wide coronavirus lockdown due to fears of a second damaging wave of infections.

During the meeting, the prime minister said he had concerns about a “second peak” if the government lifts severe restrictions too soon – potentially inflicting even greater damage on the economy and public health.

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