UK names Dominic Raab acting Prime Minister as Boris Johnson’s health worsens
London, April 7, 2020 (AltAfrica)-With Boris Johnson moved into intensive care, United Kingdom has named Dominic Raab, the foreign secretary, as the acting Prime Minister.
Dominic Raab has been asked to step up “where necessary” and run the country during the biggest public health crisis in a generation.
He is expected from Tuesday to chair Cobra and cabinet meetings as the government makes crucial decisions related to the coronavirus, including whether and when to alter restrictions on movement
Boris Johnson was moved to intensive care in hospital on Monday after his coronavirus symptoms “worsened”, Downing Street has said.
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
Raab, 46, who has twice tested negative for the virus, is Johnson’s “designated survivor”, and takes on prime ministerial responsibilities now Johnson has become too ill to remain in charge of the government.
How long he remains in that position will depend on Johnson’s health and his prospects of returning to cabinet, according to a former senior civil servant.
Lord Kerslake, the former head of the civil service, said: “The government and the cabinet secretary have clearly identified Raab as the first minister but that was done some time back without any notion that it would come to this.
“Raab will step into the key functions such as chairing Cobra meetings and chairing cabinet. There will also have been general plans that would have been refined over the last few days since the prime minister’s illness became clear.”
As the UK is a parliamentary democracy, there is no need, under the UK’s unwritten constitution, for an election in order for Raab to assume prime ministerial powers. However, political pressure could eventually lead to one.
If the prime minister remains incapacitated for some time, questions will be raised about whether Raab has the authority to continue, Kerslake told the Guardian, and the cabinet may intervene.
“The question will be to what extent can Raab carry the authority that Boris Johnson had, given that Boris led the government to a general election victory. I think a lot now depends on how quickly the PM recovers.
“If he doesn’t recover quickly, the cabinet would take a view on who would be prime minister. But if the prime minister was unable to continue, the Conservative party may have to choose a new leader,” he said.
“The challenge is that there are big questions to be made now. When and how do we leave the lockdown? Do we intensify it in the short term? Are we going to deliver the increased levels of testing and PPE [personal protection equipment] needed? Do we need to do more to protect those caught up in the economic fallout of the lockdown, such as the younger and the lower-paid?”
Last month, the prime minister’s spokesman said if Johnson was unwell and unable to work, Raab, as the first secretary of state, would stand in. Downing Street is said to have drawn up plans to ensure the continuation of government in all circumstances but details have not been divulged publicly. Guardian UK