No10 said the claim the PM (pictured today in Devon) would quit was ‘total nonsense’
Downing Street was today forced to deny an extraordinary claim that Boris Johnson is planning to quit as Prime Minister in six months time due to his health – made by Dominic Cummings’ father-in-law.
Sir Humphry Wakefield is said to have told a holidaymaker who visited his castle in Northumberland that the Prime Minister is still suffering longer-term ill effects of coronavirus.
The baronet, 84, a former soldier and interior designer whose journalist daughter Mary is married to top aide Mr Cummings, likened the Prime Minister to a horse that is made to work while injured, leaving it permanently lame, according to the Times.
‘If you put a horse back to work when it’s injured it will never recover,’ it reported him as saying.
No10 this morning said the claim Mr Johnson would step down was ‘total nonsense’.
Sir Humphry Wakefield, whose journalist daughter Mary is married to Dominic Cummings, is said to have made the claim to a holidaymaker who visited his castle in Northumberland
Mr Johnson spent more than a week in hospital with coronavirus in early April, including a stint in intensive care.
Many of those who have suffered report still suffering the lingering effects of its attack on their systems months after leaving hospital or their home sick bed
Sir Humphry is the father of Mr Cummings’ wife, the journalist Mary Wakefield (couple pictured above). The couple married in 2011 and have one child together.
Boris Johnson’s battle with coronavirus
Friday March 27: The Prime Minister used a video released on Twitter to reveal that he had tested positive for the coronavirus. He was said to be experiencing ‘mild symptoms’ and insisted he would continue to work from a specially sectioned-off part of 11 Downing Street, where he lives.
Thursday April 2: By this time, doubts have begun to appear about the prime Minister’s health. At a regular briefing for reporters that morning his official spokesman confirmed that we was still suffering from a high temperature and was unable to confirm whether Mr Johnson would be leaving quarantine as planned the following day.
Friday April 3: Mr Johnson uses a video message on social media to confirm that he will not be exiting self-isolation, because he continues to have a high temperature. ‘Although I’m feeling better, and I’ve done my seven days of isolation, alas I still have one of the symptoms, a minor symptom – I still have a temperature,’ he revealed.
Saturday April 4: Mr Johnson’s pregnant fiancee Carrie Symonds reveals she has been self isolating for a week at the couple’s home in south London. Ms Symonds, 32, posted on Twitter: ‘I’ve spent the past week in bed with the main symptoms of Coronavirus. I haven’t needed to be tested and, after seven days of rest, I feel stronger and I’m on the mend.’
Sunday April 5: In a short press release late on Sunday night, hours after Matt Hancock had told the nation that the Prime Minister was ‘OK’, Downing Street revealed he had been admitted to hospital ‘for tests’. ‘This is a precautionary step, as the Prime Minister continues to have persistent symptoms of coronavirus ten days after testing positive for the virus,’a spokesman said.
Monday April 6: In another short press statement No 10 reveals that the Prime Minister has been moved to intensive care at St Thomas’ Hospital in London, 11 days after testing positive. Hours earlier he had tweeted he was in ‘good spirits’. ‘Over the course of this afternoon, the condition of the Prime Minister has worsened and, on the advice of his medical team, he has been moved to the Intensive Care Unit at the hospital,’ a spokeswoman said.
Tuesday April 7: The Queen sends a message to Boris Johnson’s fiancee Carrie Symonds and the Prime Minister’s family, saying her thoughts are with them and that she wishes him a full and speedy recovery. The Duke of Cambridge also tweeted a personal message, signing it off with his initial ‘W’, and saying: ‘Our thoughts are with the Prime Minister and his family, who like so many in the UK and around the world are affected by coronavirus. ‘We wish him a speedy recovery at this difficult time. W.’
Thursday April 9: Boris Johnson comes out of intensive care after three nights. The announcement that the Prime Minister had been moved to a ward came just hours after Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab, who has been standing in for him while he was incapacitated, said he was making ‘positive steps forward’ in his treatment.
Sunday April 12: The Prime Minister thanked the NHS for saving his live and the public for their own ‘sacrifice’ as he was reunited with Miss Symonds following his discharge from hospital. He stopped on his way to recuperate at Chequers in Buckinghamshire to record a message to the nation in Downing Street. The couple – and their dog Dilyn – were seen together in the back of an official government car and in scenes which may raise some eyebrows neither they nor the driver or bodyguard were wearing masks.
Monday April 27: Boris Johnson returned to work at 10 Downing Street. In a statement in Downing Street, the PM assured the country he was back in charge after weeks recuperating from a serious scare with the killer disease, and urged people to be ‘patient’ as it was not yet the time to ‘go easy’ on social distancing rules. But Mr Johnson channeled Churchill’s famous speech about the ‘end of the beginning’ by saying there are ‘real signs’ the UK is making ‘progress’.
Mr Johnson spent more than a week in hospital with coronavirus in early April, including a stint in intensive care.
And many of those who have suffered report still suffering the lingering effects of its attack on their systems months after leaving hospital or their home sick bed.
His illness at the end of March sent shockwaves through Westminster as he became the first major world leader affected.
He spent three nights in intensive care amid a week in London’s St Thomas’s Hospital receiving oxygen treatment and Dominic Raab, the Foreign Secretary, took temporary charge, as a worried nation waits for news.
Prayers and well wishes were offered from across the globe, with NHS nurses even praying for his recovery.
Four weeksd previously he wads still shaking hands at official engagements and ahead of interviews with the likes of Holly Willoughby and Phillip Schofield, and insisting it was fine as long as you washed your hands afterwards.
After being discharged from hospital at the end of April he spent a couple of weeks with Carrie Symonds recuperating at his country retreat, Chequers, before returning to Downing Street to take charge again.
Since his return he has shown an increased interest in his own fitness and that of the nation.
Last month he revealed he had lost more than a stone in weight since his coronavirus scare as he urged Britis to join him in getting fit this summer to ward off the worst of the disease.
Obesity has been flagged as a major risk factor for coronavirus, with researchers finding that obese people have a 37 per cent higher risk of dying from it. One in four Britons is obese.
The Prime Minister urged podgy Brits to shed the pounds. Speaking on a visit to a London health centre today to encourage uptake of the winter flu jab the PM, who has been photographed running since his return to Downing Street, told reporters: ‘I’m on the way, I’ve lost about a stone and a bit. Primarily by eating less, but also by a lot of exercise.’
At ther same time he appeared to abandon long-held libertarian instincts with support for moves to ban junk food adverts from TV before the 9pm watershed and outlaw online ads altogether.
Retail and advertising executives have been told the plans will include a ban on TV ads for junk food such as burgers and chocolate before 9pm. A ban on online adverts is also expected, as are restrictions on buy-one-get-one-free supermarket deals.
It came just days ahead of the start of Chancellor Rishi Sunak’s ‘eat out to help out’ plan for diners to enjoy 50 per cent discount at restaurants and pubs to help revive the flagging hospitality sector.
Today’s row It is not the first time Sir Humphry, who owns Chillingham Castle near Bamburgh, has found himself in the political spotlight
In February he made an astonishing intervention in the Home Office bullying row involving Priti Patel.
The aristocrat, a friend of Prince Philip, accused mandarins who have squared up to the Home Secretary of acting to protect their ‘relaxed life’.
The aristocratic interior designer and antiques expert, used a letter sent from the 13th century fortress to attack ‘relaxed disciplines’ in offices whose fans paint any attempt at changing the environment as bullying.
Two senior civil servants were forced out of the Home Office after clashing with Ms Patel, 47, and an internal report into the affair has so far not been released.
In a missive to the Times from his home the baronet said: ‘I have worked in many long established offices around the world. Almost invariably, relaxed disciplines have become the norm.
‘I have found it near impossible to change old habits without appearing to ”bully”.
‘Throwing chilling water on attempted inspiration is a special skill of department leaders whose relaxed life is under threat.’
Sir Humphry is the father of Mr Cummings’ wife, the journalist Mary Wakefield. The couple married in 2011 and have one child together.
Sir Humphry owns Chillingham Castle (pictured) in Northumberland
A reality TV star and friend of Prince Philip who owns ‘Britain’s most haunted castle’
Sir Humphry Tyrrell Wakefield is an outspoken adventurer and an Englishman whose home is literally his castle.
He owns Chillingham Castle in Northumberland, which pitches itself to visitors as Britain’s most haunted historic castle’.
It is Grade I star listed and dates back to the 13th century and has been in his wife’s family ever since, although his own family’s main home was in the Lake District until the 1980s.
He once staged a wedding for his beloved bull terrier Brigand in the castle chapel and, in 2014, caused a stir when he appeared on a Channel 4’s Can’t Get The Staff, complaining how tricky it was to find staff to help with the upkeep.
Sir Humphry, 84, is a friend of the Duke of Edinburgh, an antiques expert and keen horseman even at his advanced age.
Educated at Gordonstoun school in Scotland – which the Prince of Wales later attended – he went on to Cambridge University before serving in the 10th Royal Hussars, reaching the rank of captain. He later became an interior designer.
In 2017 he set out to ride his horse, Barack, the length of the British Isles at the ripe old age of 81.
At the time he spoke of his love for the castle – dubbed the most haunted in Britain – saying: ‘I love it — love it like mad.
‘And the smell! It’s like returning to a stable when you haven’t seen your horse for a bit.’
In 2012 he featured on another reality television show, the Guest Wing, which met aristocrats who open up their stately homes to paying visitors.
He managed to offend one set of paying guests on the programme – who lived in a 1960s semi in Gateshead – by setting out tactlessly why he wouldn’t have wanted his children to marry people like them.
‘It’s much easier to marry into your own bracket,’ he told the programme. ‘You have everything in common: jokes, relatives… I don’t count myself as aristocracy. I consider myself in a certain gentrified bracket and I’m happy with that.’
ARE THERE LONG-TERM SYMPTOMS OF COVID-19?
Most coronavirus patients will recover within a fortnight, suffering a fever, cough and losing their sense of smell or taste for several days.
However, evidence is beginning to show that the tell-tale symptoms of the virus can persist for weeks on end in ‘long haulers’ — the term for patients plagued by lasting complications.
Data from the COVID Symptom Study app, by King’s College London and health company Zoe, suggests one in ten people may still have symptoms after three weeks, and some may suffer for months.
Long term symptoms include:
- Chronic tiredness
- Raised heart rate
- Loss of taste/smell
- Kidney disease
- Mobility issues
- Muscle pains
For those with more severe disease, Italian researchers who tracked 143 people who had been hospitalised with the disease found almost 90 per cent still had symptoms including fatigue two months after first falling unwell.
The most common complaints were fatigue, a shortness of breath and joint pain – all of which were reported during their battle with the illness.
Another study in Italy showed one in ten people who lose their sense of taste and smell with the coronavirus – now recognised as a key sign of the infection – may not get it back within a month.
The study, published in the journal JAMA Otolaryngology – Head and Neck Surgery, involved 187 Italians who had the virus but who were not ill enough to be admitted to hospital.
The UK’s Chief Medical Officer Professor Chris Whitty has said the longer term impacts of Covid-19 on health ‘may be significant’.
Support groups such as Long Covid have popped up online for those who ‘have suspected Covid-19 and your experience doesn’t follow the textbook symptoms or recovery time’.
Switzerland ‘will be added to the UK’s quarantine travel list this weekend’ as Tory MPs blast border ‘chaos’ and urge ministers to follow 30 countries which already have airport testing to slash 14 day self-isolation rules
Switzerland could be added to the UK’s quarantine travel list as soon as this weekend after a surge in coronavirus cases as Tory MPs demand the Government back airport testing to reduce the 14 day self-isolation period.
Case numbers in Switzerland now stand at 20.7 per 100,000 people – above the Government’s threshold of 20 per 100,000 at which countries are added to the ‘red list’.
As a result, it is viewed as almost a certainty that all non-essential travel to the country from the UK will be banned in the coming days.
The prospect of ministers adding yet another nation to the ‘red list’ has prompted renewed demands from furious Tory MPs for the Government to change its ‘chaotic’ approach to border control.
Ministers are under growing pressure to back testing on arrival at airports which advocates suggest could slash the 14 day quarantine to just five days.
More than 30 countries across the world already conduct testing at airports and senior Conservative backbenchers want to know why the UK cannot follow suit.
There is growing speculation Switzerland will be added to the UK’s quarantine list this weekend. Geneva is pictured on August 22
Decisions on adding counties to the UK’s quarantine list have tended to be announced by ministers at the end of the week.
For example, the move to ban travel to Croatia, Austria and Trinidad & Tobago was made public on a Thursday afternoon before coming into effect at 4am on Saturday.
The Times reported that Switzerland is likely to be added to the list this weekend with Scotland having already imposed self-isolation rules on travellers returning from the country.
There are also fears that the Czech Republic and Greece could be banned after they have also recorded a spike in cases.
More than 30 countries – including Germany, Iceland and France – have already introduced airport testing for people arriving from high risk countries.
Tory MPs want the UK to adopt a similar approach so that the blanket quarantine restrictions can be ditched.
They believe the current approach is causing unnecessary damage to the aviation and travel industries.
David Davis, the former Brexit secretary, told The Times: ‘The chaos of quarantine has shown that the Government’s short-term solution no longer works for the long-term problem of Covid.’
Minister for European Affairs Clement Beaune said yesterday that France will impose reciprocal quarantine restrictions on travel from the UK in the coming days
Sir Graham Brady, chairman of the 1922 Committee, echoed a similar sentiment as he said quarantine had ’caused untold chaos and confusion for passengers, whilst dealing a hammer blow to the travel industry’.
Andrew Griffith, Tory MP for Arundel and South Downs, said the current approach risks putting the UK at a ‘competitive disadvantage’.
A testing on arrival system, currently being piloted at Heathrow, would see people tested when they go through border control and then tested against three to five days later.
Two negative tests would mean people could return to life as normal in under a week.
Ministers have been reluctant to back the move because of fears that the system could miss people who may have only just been infected when they are tested.
The row over airport testing comes after the French government said it will this week impose reciprocal quarantine restrictions on travel from the UK.
Britain added France to its ‘red list’ of banned countries on August 15 after a spike in coronavirus cases.
All travellers returning from the country to the UK must stay at home for a fortnight and Paris is now poised to impose its own similar restrictions on people heading in the opposite direction.
Minister for European Affairs Clement Beaune yesterday signalled the tit-for-tat action will be set out in the coming days.
‘We will have a measure called reciprocity so that our British friends do not close the border in one single way,’ he told French TV station France 2, according to comments reported by Reuters.
‘For travellers returning from the United Kingdom, there will probably be restrictive measures decided in the next few days by the Prime Minister and by the Defence Council.’