The news coming from St Thomas’ hospital is encouraging. Boris Johnson’s condition is continuing to improve. His close friends are audibly more relaxed when discussing his condition than they were a few days ago.
But, as I say in the magazine this week, Boris Johnson is going to require a proper convalescence. Any idea that he can return to work as soon as he is discharged is deeply unwise. He will, as with anyone who has been in intensive care with this disease, need time to fully recover.
The decision about when, and how, to end the lockdown is one that will almost certainly have to wait for Boris Johnson’s return to work. It is such a consequential decision – and one that involves balancing so many factors – that it is hard to see how anyone deputising for him could make it. This is particularly the case as the decision could come to define this government.
In Whitehall, the sense at the moment is that Boris Johnson is likely to make a ‘phased return’ to work. This would be a sensible approach, allowing him to – once he has properly recovered – take the really big decisions, such as on the lockdown, while delegating far more than he has done to date. As First Secretary of State, Dominic Raab is going to need to take on an expanded workload for quite some time.