Thursday, 22 Oct 2020

Dominic Raab feared Boris Johnson would die from coronavirus

Dominic Raab has admitted he feared the Prime Minister would die after being admitted to intensive care with coronavirus in the spring. 

The Foreign Secretary’s comments about Boris Johnson come amid confusion about the true condition of USA President Donald Trump, who has also been hospitalised with Covid-19.

Mr Raab who deputised for the Prime Minister during his spell at St Thomas’ hospital in central London in April, and during his recovery afterwards, told the virtual Conservative Party conference that the pandemic had ‘hit us hard, taking lives on a tragic scale’.

He added: ‘It nearly took the life of our Prime Minister, our friend as well as our leader. You know, I get asked a lot how I felt, when I covered for him. Well, I really worried we might lose him, and I was worried for Carrie (Symonds) pregnant with baby Wilf.

‘But I always had faith that, with the outstanding NHS care he received and his fighting spirit, he’d pull through.’

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Meanwhile, there are mixed messages coming out of Washington about the health of President Trump — aged 74, and 18 years older than his British counterpart. 

He was flown to a military hospital by helicopter on Friday after being given oxygen, and has admitted he faces a ‘real test’ over the next few days. 

His medical team said he was doing ‘very well’ in an update on Saturday but later White House chief of staff Mark Meadows briefed reporters that Mr Trump went through a ‘very concerning’ period on Friday and that the next 48 hours would be critical.

In the UK, First Secretary of State Mr Raab said at the time of Mr Johnson’s illness that he would pull through, and has only now revealed he feared the Prime Minister could have been one of the tens of thousands killed by the illness in the UK.

Mr Johnson himself confirmed after his release from hospital on Easter Sunday that his life had been in danger, saying in a video message that ‘it could have gone either way’.

He has since been trying to lose weight, after repeatedly suggesting that his excess weight led to did not help his recovery from Covid-19.

In an interview with The Telegraph, the PM said he was now ‘thinner’, having lost almost two stone.

He told the paper: ‘I try not to eat too much sometimes, and it’s basically about taking lots of exercise and not eating so much.

‘That’s my top tip. Eat less, move more, weigh less.’

He made similar comments on the BBC’s Andrew Marr show this morning, explaining: ‘The issue is when I got this wretched thing I was, alas, too fat.

‘If I may say so, this is a teachable moment for our great country because we are one of the greatest places on Earth but, alas, as a nation we are slightly too fat.’

He also told the BBC that reports he was preparing to step down next year was “sinister disinformation’.

Rumours swirled in the summer that the Prime Minister would not complete a full-term in office after claims from top aide Dominic Cummings’ father-in-law, Sir Humphry Wakefield, that he was struggling in the wake of his illness.

Michael Gove, also speaking at the Tory Party conference, said the Tory leader had made an ‘amazing recovery’ from his bout of illness and described Mr Johnson as the ‘livest wire in the room’.

During his conference speech, Mr Raab admitted to praying that the country would be ‘equal’ to the ‘greatest challenge in a generation’ as he stepped in for the PM.

Admitting there would be ‘lessons to be learnt’ following the Government’s handling of the crisis, he added: ‘I have to say, for every hurdle we faced, with every heart-rending loss, there was also a tale of courage, a moment of inspiration.’

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