Prime Minister in self-isolation as ‘critical announcements’ planned

By Shaun Connolly, PA Political Correspondent
·3-min read

Boris Johnson’s plan to showcase his grip on power with a series of key policy initiatives following a major power struggle in Downing Street may be hampered as the Prime Minister went into self-isolation.

It is understood that Mr Johnson was advised to self-isolate by NHS Test and Trace after meeting a small group of MPs in Downing Street on Thursday morning, including MP for Ashfield Lee Anderson who later tested positive for coronavirus.

The news came after Mr Johnson’s administration was rocked by political drama which saw close aides such as chief adviser Dominic Cummings and communications director Lee Cain exiting their posts.

On Sunday, Number 10 said the “critical announcements” would set a “clear signal of his ongoing ambitions for the United Kingdom” with the Prime Minister expected to outline plans for dealing with issues like the Covid-19 pandemic and social inequality.

The move was being seen by some at Westminster as a bid by the Prime Minister to show he was still in control of the Government’s agenda.

Downing Street said the measures ahead would include plans to tackle the coronavirus outbreak, moves for “levelling up” across the country, and education and environmental investment initiatives.

But it is not clear how many of the plans will now go ahead while Mr Johnson, who was seriously ill with Covid-19 in April, is in isolation, although he is said to be feeling “well” and does not have any symptoms.

On Monday, the Prime Minister was due meet with Tory MPs from the newly formed Northern Research Group (NRG), Downing Street said.

The NRG was set-up to press the case for “levelling-up” northern England and boosting the local economy in that part of the country.

A Number 10 spokesperson said: “This Government is determined to improve opportunities for people across the country, regardless of their background or where they live in the UK.

“We were elected on an ambitious manifesto to deliver this agenda, investing in education, skills and our NHS, tackling crime and introducing tougher sentencing for those who commit the most heinous crimes, as well as concluding our trade negotiations with the EU.

“Our agenda remains focused on this and we will never veer off this course, as we build back better from the coronavirus pandemic.”

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

The spokesperson said: “These will look ahead to the next phase of our fight against the virus” after the scheduled lifting of the England-wide lockdown on December 2.

A spokesperson said the Government would focus on “developments on vaccines and the role of new testing technologies in the Government’s strategy to tackle coronavirus”.

Downing Street said that with the spending review on the horizon, the Prime Minister and Chancellor of the Exchequer “will be making major decisions in the days ahead. At the heart of the spending review the Government will ensure that we can build back better from the pandemic”.