The Nation is stunned this morning by the news that the PM has been moved into an Intensive Care Unit bed in St Thomas’s Hospital. We should be clear. ICU beds are in very short supply, and you don’t get one unless you are seriously ill. He has been given Oxygen, but so far as we know at this stage he is not on ventilation.
This is serious news on a whole variety of levels. It will be deeply unpleasant for Boris himself. It will of course be desperately worrying for his family. We think especially of Carrie who has had symptoms herself, and who is of course expecting their child. What a terrible time for them all.
It’s a worry for the Nation too. We know that he is but ‘First Amongst Equals’; but he is a powerful figurehead. It is he who takes the ultimate decisions and gives direction and energy to the government- both Ministers and civil servants. He is the strong man to whom the whole government looks. I am sure that Dominic Raab, Michael Gove, Rishi Sunak and the whole team will carry on doing a great job. And the Government has been split into four ‘cells’ exactly so that it can be guaranteed to continue no matter what happens to any individual. So I have absolutely no worries whatsoever that the Government of Britain will plough ahead fighting this terrible virus no matter what happens at the top of it. (And never forget that Churchill was critically ill for part of the Second World War.)
Boris has had a turbulent 12 months. This time last year he was a backbencher with his career behind him. Since then he went through the bruising leadership battle; won a magnificent victory in the General Election; carried out his promise to ‘Get Brexit Done’ and established a strong and dynamic government pressing ahead with a wide variety of novel policies. To be struck down in this way is ironic after a most powerful and successful year. But perhaps the two are not unconnected. I know Boris very well. (Inter alia I was his first whip when elected in 2001). And I know of his massive personal energy and dynamism. He is a workaholic, and can well be argued to have sacrificed his own health in support of the Nation.
So no matter what your political opinions; no matter what your personal view of Boris Johnson, I know that you will join with me and the whole Nation in wishing him God speed to a full recovery to his robust best health.
Get well soon, Boris. We are all with you.