Boris Johnson Moved to Intensive Care

The British PM is very sick from COVID-19.

Breaking news from CNN (“UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson is in intensive care“):

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has been moved to the intensive care unit of a London hospital, after being hospitalized on Sunday for persistent coronavirus symptoms.

“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,” said a spokesman.

“The PM has asked Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab, who is the First Secretary of State, to deputise for him where necessary,” he added.
Downing Street has previously said Raab would stand in if the Prime Minister were unable to lead the country.

The Prime Minister’s spokesperson had said on Monday that Johnson had a “comfortable” night at St Thomas’ Hospital, across Westminster Bridge from Downing Street, and is in “good spirits.” The spokesperson would not comment on reports Johnson was given oxygen, but officials are no longer describing his symptoms as mild.

Monday’s regular morning briefing on coronavirus was chaired by foreign secretary, Dominic Raab, the most senior Cabinet minister after Johnson.

In a post on Twitter, Johnson had said he was keeping in touch with his team and thanked staff at Britain’s National Health Service for taking care of him.

The communities secretary, Robert Jenrick, said earlier that Johnson was able to continue running the country despite being hospitalized.

“I know for him personally it will be very frustrating that he’s had to go to the hospital to have these tests, and he’ll want to be back in Number 10 (Downing Street ) leading from the front, which is his way,” Jenrick told the BBC’s Today program on Monday morning.

Sad news, indeed. COVID-19 has claimed just short of 74,000 lives globally and over 5000 in the UK alone. One certainly hopes Johnson does not join their ranks.

I haven’t been the biggest fan of Johnson’s politics, to say the least. Brexit will be a catastrophe for the UK and he led them to it despite many, many chances at an off-ramp. Still, that’s what the British people voted for.

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. Daryl and his brother Darryl says:

    One certainly hopes Johnson does not join their ranks.

    One would presume the PM is getting the best care available in Britain.
    Wait until this rolls thru Appalachia.

  2. EddieInCA says:

    I’ve been speaking to my London friends for the past two months more than normal. The same dynamic which happened here is happening there, but on a much worse scale. The “Brexiteers” are still not taking it seriously, while most of the “Remain” crowd took is seriously immediately. There, like here, it’s a culture war issue. If you’re for “shelter in place” you’re an appeaser along the lines of Neville Chamberlin.

    It’s quite amazing.

  3. Jen says:

    Definitely sad to hear, especially as his partner is pregnant–I hope he’s on the mend soon.

  4. MarkedMan says:

    @EddieInCA: I held my nose and read a column at The American Conservative just to see what a particular Trump ass-kisser was putting forth as the party line. Trump is blameless, acted heroically, distracted by impeachment, Obama, yada yada yada. So, nothing there. But there was a rising theme in the comments thought that caught my attention: the reason this hits cities first is because cities tend to be Democrats and they let in foreigners. Many cities actually have a China Town, doncha know?

  5. Michael Reynolds says:

    I guess Britain has that new 5G karma. So fast.

  6. denspark says:



    As someone living in the UK that bears not the slightest resemblance at all to what I’m actually seeing or hearing.

    Though I’ve seen some remainers on social media try and pretend thats what’s happening but (and i’m a remainer) generally that’s got more to do with their dislike of the government and brexit.

    Idiots on both sides mind you. (peter hitchens has been particularly lunatic on this).
    In fact the worst cases of people breaking lockdown etc seem to be happening in urban areas that voted remain.

  7. EddieInCA says:


    My friends are in St. Johns Wood, Ealing, Chelsea, Hammersmith, Brighton, Newcastle, and Bath. Across the board, they say that Brexiteers are much more likely to think this is a hoax and not serious than those who are “Remain”.

    But that’s pure anecdotal. Unlike here, where we have actual proof that red state Governors didn’t take it seriously.

  8. mattbernius says:

    Most of the (legit) Medical experts on twitter are suggesting that it’s a matter of when, not if, ventilator. That’s very dire, though not unexpected, news.

  9. denspark says:


    Well in talking to friends/colleagues/clients etc across the UK the last few weeks (leavers and remainers amongst them) i’ve just not seen this split. There were people who didn’t take it terribly seriously in the latter days of Feb but by the end of the 2nd week of march pretty much everyone was but from what i saw it wasn’t tied into how folk felt about brexit.

    Again ,as you say anecdotal , and some of the professional contrarians (hitchen) and publicity junkies (farage) have came out saying the lockdown is overkill but they are shouting into the wind at the moment,

    Opinion polls don’t seem to support this view thats there’s a leaver/remainer split either

    If there was a split it was more about the timing of the lockdown but that was more about people using it as a stick to beat the government (or not) depending on their political views.

  10. grumpy realist says:

    I hate to say it, but I’m not surprised that Johnson caught coronavirus. A few weeks ago he was enthusiastically shaking hands with health care responders in hospitals. Great photo op and maybe good for morale, but shall we say….not that intelligent an action if you’re trying to NOT catch an infectious disease?

    Keep safe, people.

  11. Jay L Gischer says:

    I actually understand the politics of what most of those red state governors are doing. They have a lot of voters that are in small communities or dispersed. Who face a lot less risk, and don’t see why they should do all that much that’s different from what they normally do. So let the mayors and counties deal with their communities, they have politicking to do statewide.

    In some sense, those rural folks are right. As long as the virus doesn’t come to their town, they are fine, and the odds are pretty decent it won’t, or that it will take a long time.

    When it does, though, it will land like a bomb.

  12. grumpy realist says:

    @grumpy realist: Oh boy–it’s even worse than that–Johnson was supposedly enthusiastically shaking hands with COVID-19 sufferers.

  13. EddieInCA says:

    @Jay L Gischer:

    It IS going to get there. Until there is a vaccine it t IS going to get to every community. As of this moment, it’s in 186 of 195 countries. Some of these affected countries are tiny, and have hundreds of miles of oceans separating them from other countries, yet they still got it. Why do rural communities – IN DRIVING DISTANCE OF OTHER COMMUNITIES – think they won’t get a Covid-19 case? Why?

  14. Denspark says:

    @grumpy realist:

    Think that was more a case of johnson being(as usual) a bit slack in his wording. Apparently at the hospital in question at the time (more than a month ago now) there weren’t actually any virus patients there but his words got picked up by the press (as prime ministers words are prone to) and now everyone thinks he was rubbing himself up against them…..

  15. Gustopher says:

    Sad news, indeed. COVID-19 has claimed just short of 74,000 lives globally and over 5000 in the UK alone. One certainly hopes Johnson does not join their ranks.


    I’m not saying I hope he does die, but… if you were to line up everyone his age in Britain, and order them by complicity and responsibility for their nationwide outbreak, he would be at the top. And his high profile death would motivate people to actually keep up the distancing.

  16. mattbernius says:

    glad to read I was wondering here @mattbernius. according to reports, Johnson made it through the night without needing a ventilator.

  17. grumpy realist says:

    @Gustopher: Actually, even though I detest Johnson as much as anyone, I don’t think you can lay all the blame for this fiasco on him. The government was following an already-developed health policy which had been constructed quite some time ago–which already had “don’t test and trace, just control symptoms” baked into it. Add to that the extreme centralisation of the U.K. health service and how the U.K. decided some time back to get rid of the local Public Health Service people (along with the entire boots-on-the-ground approach) and you can see how the U.K. has ended up in such a mess. Dr. North over at EUreferendum has been providing a history. Boris has simply ended up as being the poor fool in the hot seat when all the health chickens came home to roost. You can however blame him and his merry band for not realising the already existing system had so many inherent faults in it and not doing anything to fix it beforehand.

  18. JohnSF says:

    @grumpy realist:
    My understanding was there was a confluence of errors.
    The NHS was hampered by centralization (re. PHS and path labs) AND by decentralization (the legal independence of Public Health England and the NHS Trusts from Dept. of Health direct command and control).

    The “don’t test, moderate” strategy was based on analysis using new strains of flu as the primary analogy.
    Mistaken because CV appears to be markedly more infectious, (related) has a longer non-symptomatic but infectious period, has higher criticality and mortality rates, and above all, a horrendously higher mortality level if criticality overloads care.

    They can be forgiven for following the model at first. Perhaps.

    However, numerous people began shouting loudly from quite early that CV was a lot nastier than assumed and the model needed updating.
    And that they failed to update.
    There was the usual institutional inertia
    Politicians and SPADs defaulted to “it’ll all be fine, don’t panic”.
    The usual political/media focus on the “Westminster Village” soap opera was in play:
    – in late Jan/early Feb obsessions of the politically engaged: Bung a bob for bouncy bonking Boris Big Ben Brexit bong; Labor party leadership; Super SPAD Dom’s war with the civil service and Chancellor Javid

    The central prediction model became the accepted wisdom in the critical decision making areas of No.10/ConMediaLobby nexus/Dept of Health & NHS
    The model became interlinked with related non-epidemiological aspects of highest level decisions because it had a “sociological/economic/political decision” aspect, which of course enables politicians to confidently say in a meeting, “this is where WE are the the experts and deciders; defer to us, little people”.
    And then that now politicised decision became tainted by reluctance to change course and endure “gotcha!gaffe!split!U-turn!” taunts.
    And most culpably by an incomprehensible leaning on half-arsed social behaviour analysis and pseudo-strategies produced by a still unclear interaction of “nudge psychology” from the Behavioural Insights Team, “Tuftonist” libertarian economic assumptions, “super genius” SPADs and the ever present taint of Brexitism.

    So, no stockpiling masks etc, no moves to source ventilators, no planning for tracing/containing protocols, no plans for kits for both active and antibody tests, etc.

    Not running a switching multiple-model, multiple input, approach was foolish from the outset.

    Reports indicate only when the Imperial College model was taken up by key figures at Health Dept. and shoved in the faces of key No.10 advisors did the realisation come that CV was way worse than flu, that current policy was letting replication rip; and that, unameliorated, the criticality spike would overwhelm NHS capacity and see death rates go from 1% to possibly 10%.

    At that point they switched strategies; for which priase is due.
    But are still playing catch up due to culpable prior delay.
    Enough people were screaming ” this NOT FLU! contain! trace! prep for lockdown!” from late January.

  19. JohnSF says:

    The UK hope for Johnson’s recovery.
    Firstly, because that is the decent thing to do.
    Secondly, because the immediate stand-in for Johnson would be the First Secretary of State

  20. JohnSF says:

    In the general population, I can’t see any marked difference in attitudes/behaviour of leavers, remainers, neutrals, indifferents.

    BUT it is commentators in media and in social media mobs most inclined to “go contrarian” or trot out “it’s just common sense..” on CV re. need “restart the economy” or “it’s overblown! don’t panic so!” or even “it could be another elite globalist plot…” very much are overwhelmingly hardcore Leavers
    Also often fit the “multifecta”: Brexiteers, Climate denialists, pro-capital punishment, tendency to conspiracy theories etc. (and for some reason haters of Meghan Markle!)

    Not all, no, but WAY more than coincidence.