Michael Gove goes into coronavirus self-isolation

Now Michael Gove goes into self-isolation after family member shows symptoms of coronavirus

  • Michael Gove has gone into self-islation after family member showed symptoms
  • Aides insist the Cabinet minister is not currently displaying symptoms himself
  • News will raise concerns about risk of paralysis at the heart of the government 

Michael Gove has gone into self-isolation after a family member showed symptoms of coronavirus, it was revealed today.

Aides to the Cabinet Office minister said he was following the official guidance by going into quarantine for 14 days, but was not himself feeling ill.

It is understood he plans to keep working as normal, but the news will heighten concerns about paralysis at the heart of government.

Boris Johnson was dramatically moved into intensive care last night, with concerns he faces at least weeks out of action amid the country’s biggest crisis for a generation. 

Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab has been ‘deputised’ to fill in for the premier, but there are questions about whether he will have the full powers of a PM over national security. In a sign of the febrile atmosphere, alarm was raised at images of Mr Raab coughing as he left the Foreign Office this morning.   

In a round of broadcast interviews from home earlier, Mr Gove played down concerns that the government will be paralysed with the leader out of action, insisting that Mr Johnson had already been on a ‘stripped back diary’ for days and ‘Cabinet is the supreme decision making body’, 

However, he dodged questions about whether Mr Raab has been given crucial national security responsibilities such as control of the nuclear deterrent and military.   

In a round of broadcast interviews from home earlier, Michael Gove said Mr Johnson was getting the ‘best care’

Images show the Prime Minister’s changing appearance as his battle with coronavirus continued from (top row left to right) March 27 and 28 and (bottom row left to right) April 1 and 2

March 10: Health minister Nadine Dorries became the first MP to test positive for coronavirus, shortly after attending a Downing Street reception.

March 27: Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Health Secretary Matt Hancock both release Twitter videos saying they have coronavirus and are self-isolating.

Hours later, chief medical officer Professor Chris Whitty revealed he was self-isolating with symptoms.

March 30: The PM’s top adviser Dominic Cummings was revealed to be self-isolating with coronavirus symptoms.

April 2: Matt Hancock returns to work after seven dies in isolation and making a recovery.

April 3: Boris Johnson releases a video from his Number 11 flat saying he is continuing to self-isolate as he is still suffering a temperature.

April 4: Carrie Symonds, the PM’s pregnant fiancée reveals she has been self-isolating at her Camberwell flat.

April 5: The PM is taken to St Thomas’ Hospital as a precaution. 

April 6: The PM is moved to intensive care after his condition spiralled.

April 7: Cabinet Office minister Michael Gove reveals he is in self-isolation after a family members showed symptoms.  

New Prime Ministers usually write ‘letters of last resort’ to nuclear submarine captains, setting out instructions if government is wiped out by an enemy strike. However, it is not clear whether Mr Johnson’s letters will still apply, or Mr Raab will pen new versions.

MPs have raised alarm that hostile states such as Russia – which has already been accused of spreading disinformation about Mr Johnson’s condition – could try to exploit Britain’s ‘weakness’. 

General Sir Nick Carter, chief of the defence staff, said the armed forces ‘work straight through to the Prime Minister’, although he suggested the National Security Council (NSC) will now fill the gap. 

The Queen is being kept informed about Mr Johnson’s condition. The monarch appoints the PM, choosing the individual who is best placed to carry a majority in the Commons.   

Asked about Mr Raab’s authority and whether he would have the same power as the PM to hire and fire people in Cabinet, Mr Gove replied: ‘The Prime Minister always remains the Prime Minister but I don’t think there’s any suggestion of anything other than a great team spirit in government as we all work together at this time.’

Mr Gove said he could not comment about national security matters when asked if responsibilities connected to nuclear attack had been passed on to Foreign Secretary Mr Raab. 

‘Dominic is in charge. I won’t go into the details of the different national security decisions and protocols that there are but there are appropriate ways in which decisions can be taken in order to keep this country safe,’ he said,

‘The ultimate decisions are always taken by politicians and in this case the PM has asked Dominic to deputise for him, so it’s Dominic as Foreign Secretary who’s in charge.’

He also said any decisions about the lockdown would be ‘taken collectively following appropriate advice’, dismissing the idea there would be a delay. 

Mr Raab raised concerns as he was seen coughing leaving the Foreign Office to go to Downing Street this morning

Dominic Raab: Karate black belt and relative Cabinet novice   

The MP for Esher and Walton worked as an in-house lawyer for the Foreign Office in 2000, before returning to the department in Boris Johnson’s post-election reshuffle.

The former grammar school boy, born to a Czech Jewish father who fled the Nazis in 1938 to Britain as a refugee before the Second World War, helped bring war criminals to justice in The Hague during his first stint in the Foreign Office.

Mr Raab is a karate black belt and former boxing blue at Oxford University in 1995. The 45-year-old is married without any children to Erika, a Brazilian-born marketing executive who was wheeled out for photoshoots in his leadership campaign. 

He has described how his father Peter fled the Nazis and came to Britain aged six.

His father learned English, worked for M&S as a food manager and met his mother Jean, who was from Bromley, Kent. He died when Dominic was 12 after losing his battle with cancer. 

The appointment to Foreign Secretary was a major promotion for Mr Raab, who up to then had just four months experience in the Cabinet after a stint as Brexit Secretary last year.   

Last summer he stood in the Tory leadership race on a hardcore Brexiteer ticket even harder than Mr Johnson. But after being knocked out he quickly backed his former rival and supported him in his campaign.

He told Good Morning Britain: ‘No it won’t be delayed. It will be the case that we will take that decision collectively as a Cabinet.

‘The person who will chair that Cabinet, the person who will make the final decision of course is, as I mentioned earlier, the Foreign Secretary.’  

On the issue of a national government he added: ‘I don’t think anyone is talking in those terms, no.’

Conservative MP and defence committee chairman Tobias Ellwood underlined the concerns about the nuclear deterrent.

‘It is important to have 100% clarity as to where responsibility for UK national security decisions now lies. We must anticipate adversaries attempting to exploit any perceived weakness,’ he tweeted. 

Mr Gove said Mr Johnson was getting the ‘best care’.

‘As we speak the PM is in intensive care being looked after by his medical team receiving the very, very best care from the team in St Thomas’ and our hopes and prayers are with him and with his family,’ he told BBC Breakfast.   

He said Mr Johnson’s plight should demonstrate the need to follow social distancing rules, as the virus ‘has a malevolence that is truly frightening’.

Meanwhile, Donald Trump revealed he has offered to send Mr Johnson experimental drugs to treat his coronavirus.

It is not immediately clear what would happen if Mr Raab also became incapacitated, with the UK not having a formal system of succession like other countries, for example the US. 

Mr Raab’s status as the person waiting in the wings reportedly sparked furious rows within the government a fortnight ago, with other ministers adamant Mr Gove, the Minister for the Cabinet Office, should be the one to take over.  

But Number 10 is likely to face intense pressure in the coming days to set out exactly what would happen if Mr Johnson and other senior ministers can no longer work.

If Mr Johnson is forced to resign, the Cabinet would in the first instance choose a successor.

They would need to carry the support of the Conservative MPs and potentially the party members – although it is unlikely anyone would force a full leadership contest at a time of massive crisis. 


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