Downing Street has dismissed claims Boris Johnson would step down in six months because of ill-health as ‘utter nonsense’.
Senior officials in No 10 slammed a story in The Times which claimed Sir Humphry Wakefield, Dominic Cummings’ father-in-law, told a reporter that Johnson was still struggling with the effects of coronavirus.
In a report titled ‘Putting PM out to stud’, The Times Diary suggested Wakefield made the comment to journalist Anna Silverman during a visit of the family’s residence at Chillingham Castle in Nothumberland.
It claimed Wakefield, whose daughter Mary is married to Cummings and is the mother of their young son, ‘merrily informed her that Boris Johnson is still struggling badly with having had Covid-19 (as if being a new father and needing to babysit Gavin Williamson isn’t tiring enough) and will stand down in six months’.
It continued: ‘A keen rider, Wakefield compared having the virus to being gone in the fetlock. ‘If you put a horse back to work when it’s injured it will never recover.”
The Times report comes after an expert suggested Johnson may not fight the 2024 general election as prime minister and that his heart might not be in staying the full term.
Professor Steven Fielding, a professor of political history at the University of Nottingham, explained: ‘We’re not even sure he’ll be in charge for that long’.
He told Newsweek: ‘The talk around him and the nature of the COVID crisis itself means you’ve got to really want to be in government and really apply yourself. There are things about Johnson that people have questions about — his capacity and whether he wants to do this [in the long term].’
Johnson was taken to London’s St Thomas’ Hospital on April 5 after contracting the coronavirus and spent three nights in intensive care. He was finally released on April 12.