Foreign secretary Dominic Raab has revealed that he feared Boris Johnson might die when the prime minister was hospitalised with coronavirus early in the outbreak.
Speaking as US President Donald Trump was admitted to hospital in Washington after himself contracting Covid-19, Mr Raab left no doubt about how serious his worries for Mr Johnson’s health were at the time of his illness.
Mr Raab stood in for the prime minister for around a month during his time in hospital and his recuperation at Chequers with pregnant fiancee Carrie Symonds, who gave birth to their son Wilf shortly after his recovery in April.
In a speech recorded for today’s virtual Conservative conference, the foreign secretary said: “I really worried we might lose him and I was worried for Carrie pregnant with baby Wilf. I hoped and prayed that we as a nation would be equal to it.”
And he told The Times: “There’s a personal side of things. I know the prime minister as a colleague but also I would say as a friend.
“But I knew that when he woke up the first thing he would ask me is, ‘Have you cracked on with the plans to get us ready to ease out of lockdown?’”
Mr Johnson himself confirmed after his release from St Thomas’ Hospital in London that his life had been in danger, saying in a video message that “it could have gone either way”.
Since his Covid scare, the prime minister has encouraged Britons to look after their health by improving their exercise and diet, saying that he was more vulnerable to the virus because he was overweight.
He today told the Daily Telegraph that he had reduced his own weight from 17st 6lbs before entering hospital to 15st 8lbs.
Mr Johnson said he had not cut out crisps or snacks, but added: « It’s basically about taking lots of exercise and not eating so much. That’s my top tip. Eat less, move more, weigh less. »
The prime minister refused to give any clues about the timing of his wedding to Carrie, saying only: “You will be the first to know all such details.”
The Conservative conference is being held online after the planned gathering in Birmingham was cancelled due to the pandemic.