Downing Street has dismissed as “utter nonsense” claims that Boris Johnson is set to quit within six months due to continued ill-health from Covid-19.
No.10 sources ridiculed a report by The Times diary column that quoted Dominic Cummings’ father-in-law as suggesting that the prime minister was ready to step down because of the lingering effects of contracting the virus earlier this year.
The paper cited journalist Anna Silverman, who had last week visited Chillingham Castle in Northumberland, which is home to Sir Humphry Wakefield, father of Cummings’ wife Mary.
Sir Humphry is said to have “merrily informed her that Boris Johnson is still struggling badly with having had Covid-19 (as if being a new father and needing to babysit Gavin Williamson isn’t tiring enough) and will stand down in six months”.
“A keen rider, Wakefield compared having the virus to being gone in the fetlock. ‘If you put a horse back to work when it’s injured it will never recover.’”
But Johnson himself hit back at the suggestion. Asked about the report on a visit to Appledore shipyard in Devon, he replied: “It’s absolute nonsense. I am feeling, if anything, far better as I’ve lost some weight.”
A No.10 source earlier told HuffPost UK that the claim about Johnson preparing to quit was “utter nonsense”.
Johnson was admitted to the intensive care unit at St Thomas’ Hospital in London in April, when his condition worsened 11 days after he showed coronavirus symptoms and tested positive for the virus.
He was moved back onto a general ward after three days in intensive care, later praising the nursing staff who watched him round the clock.
During the PM’s hospitalisation, first secretary of state Dominic Raab took over his main duties and ran the government.
In a video following his discharge from hospital, Johnson thanked health service staff for saving his life.
He said he did not have the words to properly thank the staff at NHS for “saving my life”. He lauded two nurses Johnson said stood by his bedside for 48 hours “when things could have gone either way.”
Cummings, Johnson’s chief adviser, was accused of breaching the government’s lockdown rules earlier this year after he and wife Mary drove from London to Durham despite curbs on travel.