Boris Johnson and coronavirus: the inside story of his illness

And at a time when deaths from the pandemic were continuing to climb, Johnson had a firm grip on the crisis and the machinery of power. At the lunchtime briefing for lobby correspondents, Downing Street stuck to this soothing script. But – subject to medical review – there was every prospect he would be able to emerge from isolation the next day, the press was assured. Seemingly, Johnson had shaken off the virus with the same alacrity as the health secretary, Matt Hancock, back after a short interlude. Over the next five days the public were taken on an emotional rollercoaster; a prime minister who was apparently in good spirits and working hard, was then in ICU and in real danger of “taking one for the team”, as his father, Stanley, would put it. A Guardian analysis of what was said in public suggests the relentlessly upbeat pronouncements fromDowning Street were at odds with what was known in private. Behind the scenes, colleagues were painting a more alarming picture of Johnson’s health at the end of his first week of sickness. Others grow critically ill. Those with even moderate symptoms can experience chest pains, headaches, cold spasms and extreme fatigue. St Thomas’ hospital – just across the Thames from Downing Street – began making preparations to admit the PM. According to one source, staff were told his condition was significantly worse than had been publicly admitted – really bad, in fact. Inside Downing Street, Johnson was in contact with his principal private secretary, Martin Reynolds, and his GP. Many of his usual advisers were themselves off sick, with Dominic Cummings at home self-isolating and the director of communications, Lee Cain, away. As Johnson’s condition steadily worsened, phone calls were cut down, government papers trimmed. The next day, Friday 3 April, Johnson recorded a video in which he urged the public to stay at home during the forthcoming sunny weekend. He was also the president of the Oxford Union – a position previously held by former Prime Minister Edward Heath (1916-2005) and former Conservative leaderWilliam Hague. However, their marriage ended in 1993 following his reported affair with childhood friend Marina Wheeler, whom he first met while they were both pupils at the European School in Brussels, Belgium. After a brief stint as a management consultant, he worked as a reporter for The Times in 1987, before getting sacked for making up a quote. Of his time at The Telegraph, Johnson remarked; “Everything I wrote from Brussels was having this amazing, explosive effect on the Tory party, and it really gave me this, I suppose, rather weird sense of power”.   In 1994, he acquired a column in The Spectator, and later went on to become the editor of the magazine in 1999, a role he continued until 2005. A few years later, Johnson again stood for Parliament and was elected as an MP for the Conservative seat of Henley-on-Thames in 2001, replacing Michael Heseltine. Johnson was also embroiled in a journalistic scandal around that time, when The Spectator published an insensitive editorial on the city of Liverpool and its relationship with grief following the murder of Ken Bigley and the Hillsborough football stadium disaster. The same year, he became the shadow minister for higher education after David Cameron was elected leader of the Conservative Party. Other notable books include “Perils of the Pushy Parents: A Cautionary Tale” (2007) and “The Churchill Factor: How One Man Made History” (2014). The year 2008 saw Johnson become the mayor of London after he was elected over two-time office holder Ken Livingstone. However, it is also reported that knife crime rose by over 15% in the first few years of his mayorship, before starting to fall from 2012-13 onward. He was also named 2014 Honorary Australian of the Year in the U.K. at an Australia Day awards ceremony in London, England.