After a weekend of torrid headlines over infighting in 10 Downing Street, Boris Johnson had hoped to use this week to prove his critics wrong about the state of the government. Following the departure of his senior aides Dominic Cummings and Lee Cain and amid speculation the Tory party could pivot to a softer form of Conservatism, the Prime Minister planned to reassure voters about his commitments on Brexit – with talks nearing their conclusion – as well as the leveling up agenda. Some in government were even describing this as a 'reset week'.
However, such plans have become more complicated. The Prime Minister is self-isolating this evening after coming into contact with an MP who has since tested positive for coronavirus. A Downing Street spokesperson said he had been notified by NHS Test and Trace and told he is required to self-isolate, adding that he 'will follow the rules and is self-isolating'. The MP in question is Lee Anderson, the MP for Ashfield, who met with Johnson in No. 10 on Thursday morning .
Downing Street insist the Prime Minister remains well and will work remotely. There is also a chance he will try to join parliamentary procedures remotely – however, given the fact that MPs unable to attend parliament because they are clinically vulnerable are unable to take part in debates on legislation (Isabel has more details here) any such exemption could be controversial. There could be a general rule change in the offing.
While ministers and MPs are largely celebrating the departure of Vote Leave aides, some are concerned that it is not yet clear what replaces the previous regime. The fact Johnson won't be able to meet with MPs or speak in the Chamber for up to 14 days is very bad timing.