Boris Johnson self-isolating as he tries to reboot government

15 November 2020, 20:46 | Updated: 16 November 2020, 07:38

Boris Johnson is self-isolating after getting an alert from Test and Trace
Boris Johnson is self-isolating after getting an alert from Test and Trace. Picture: Twitter/Boris Johnson
Ewan Quayle

By Ewan Quayle

Boris Johnson has said he is "fit as a butcher's dog" after being forced to self-isolate by Test and Trace on Sunday.

In a video posted to Twitter, he praised the work of contact tracers who he said are "working ever-more efficiently".

"The bad news is that they've pinged me and I've got to self isolate because someone I was in contact with a few days ago has developed Covid," he said.

"It doesn't matter that we were all doing social distancing, it doesn't matter that I'm fit as a butcher's dog, feel great - so many people do in my circumstances."

Read more: Expert urges against 'flip-flopping' between pandemic and economy

Announcing the news, a No10 spokesman said: "The Prime Minister has today been notified by NHS Test and Trace that he is required to self-isolate as a contact of someone who has tested positive for Covid-19.

"The Prime Minister will follow the rules and is self-isolating.

"He will carry on working from Downing Street, including on leading the Government’s response to the coronavirus pandemic.

"The PM is well and does not have any symptoms of Covid-19."

Mr Johnson had a meeting lasting about 35 minutes with MPs in Number 10 on Thursday morning, including Ashfield MP Lee Anderson, who later this week tested positive for Covid-19.

The MP said in a Facebook post: "Isolating. On Friday I lost my sense of taste at the same time my wife had a bad headache. I had no cough, no fever and felt well.

"We both had a test on Saturday and the result came in Sunday morning. My wife and I both tested positive.

"I feel absolutely fine and my biggest concern is my wife who is in the shielded group. But we are both feeling good."

Read more: What does Dominic Cummings' No 10 departure mean and who could replace him?

Read more: Months of Covid restrictions ahead despite vaccine, BioNTech boss admits

Boris Johnson and MP Lee Ashfield met for breakfast last Thursday
Boris Johnson and MP Lee Ashfield met for breakfast last Thursday. Picture: Facebook/Lee Anderson

Questions are being raised about why the PM met with the MP in-person for breakfast when the meeting likely could have taken place over a video conference.

A Downing Street spokesperson said the Prime Minister would still chair "key Covid" meetings in the weeks ahead.

The news will have come as a blow to Mr Johnson, who is hoping to bounce back following the rocky departure of key allies Dominic Cummings and Lee Cain last week.

George Eustice defends PM over apparent chaos in Downing Street

He plans to reset the Government with a “series of critical announcements” over the next couple of weeks, but it is now unclear how many of those events will be able to go ahead with the PM stuck indoors.

Mr Johnson had been due to meet Conservative MPs from the newly-formed Northern Research Group (NRG) on Monday, who are lobbying the Government to refocus its efforts to "level up" their constituencies, but it now unclear whether it will go ahead.

Self-isolation means he will not take part in PMQs this week either, making it harder for the PM to champion his renewed agenda.

Read more: UK guilty of 'really low calibre of pandemic planning'

A No10 spokesperson said the PM aims to send a “clear signal of his ongoing ambitions” for the country and will announcement plans to increase "developments on vaccines and the role of new testing technologies".

The announcements will also aim to build a post-pandemic vision for the Government as the UK continues to battle a second wave of Covid-19, with promises to “build back better and greener” from the crisis.

Lord Barwell on impact of Cummings' resignation on Government

A number of key announcements about “levelling up opportunity” are expected in the coming weeks, including extra funding for education, skills and new jobs.

Read more: Church leaders launch legal challenge against English and Welsh public worship bans

With the Chancellor's spending review on the horizon, Downing Street will be making major decisions in the days ahead and will be lobbied by MPs of all parties for extra funding for their constituencies.

No10 said Rishi Sunak and the PM "will be making major decisions in the days ahead" as he aims to stabilise the economic and prevent significant job losses.

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