EXCLUSIVE: Boris Johnson has 'lost his edge' after Covid fight says MP

EXCLUSIVE: Senior Tory MP fears Boris Johnson has ‘lost his edge’ and is not fully recovered after coronavirus – and warns he needs to be worried about ‘savvy’ Sir Keir Starmer

  • Sir Paul Nurse said Britain has been left on the ‘back foot’ with a lack of planning
  • Nobel-winner said country had been ‘increasingly playing catch-up’ with virus
  • Said: ‘The question I’m asking myself is: Who is actually in charge of decisions?’
  • Here’s how to help people impacted by Covid-19

Sir Paul’s intervention came as Boris Johnson’s (pictured today) Government faces increasing pressure over its handling of the pandemic

Boris Johnson may have ‘lost his edge’ and not yet fully recovered from his personal battle with coronavirus, a leading Tory MP warned today.

As the Prime Minister faced increasing criticism of his handling of the pandemic his mental sharpness was questioned from within his own party.

They expressed concern that in any other situation he would have been taking it easy and taking a much slower return to the vigours of work.

It came as a Nobel Prize-winning scientist tore into Mr Johnson’s leadership, claiming it was not clear ‘who is actually in charge of the decisions’.

Sir Paul Nurse said Britain has been left on the ‘back foot’ with a lack of clear planning that left it ”firefighting through successive crises’, in a scathing attack on the political establishment. 

Priti Patel says EVERYONE arriving in UK will be ordered to self-quarantine for 14 days from June 8 

Priti Patel today confirmed all travellers returning to the UK from June 8 will face a mandatory 14 day period in quarantine as she said Britain must now guard against importing cases of coronavirus.

The Home Secretary said the UK needed to protect the ‘hard won progress’ it has made in the fight against the deadly disease and that tough border controls will help to prevent a ‘devastating resurgence’.

Everyone coming into the country from abroad will now have to give an address and phone number to public health officials setting out where they will be self-isolating.

Those officials will then be carrying out spot checks, with anyone found to be breaking rules facing an initial fine of £1,000 with further non-compliance resulting in unlimited fines.

Any foreign national who declines to comply with the measures at the border could be refused entry. Ms Patel said a ‘reckless minority’ would not be allowed to undermine the UK’s efforts to stop the spread of the disease.

Critics immediately demanded to know why the border controls, which will be reviewed every three weeks, had not been introduced earlier in the crisis as Ms Patel faced accusations of having been ‘too slow to act’.

Sir Paul’s intervention came as the Government faces increasing pressure over its handling of the pandemic. Pinch points includes the rate of deaths in care homes, a decision to abandon widespread testing early on and the slow roll out of a new testing regime. 

Last night Mr Johnson was forced to u-turn over a widely unpopular decision to make foreign NHS and care staff pay a surcharge to access healthcare in the UK, while working to save British lives.

A senior Tory MP told MailOnline: ‘Under normal circumstances he would probably have been taking it easier. The guy was close to death… there was pressure on him to come back. People don’t usually come back to the pressure that he has been under.

‘He is back in the firing line, running UK plc with 67million people and all the problems that is has got.’

For most workers colleagues would ensure they were ‘out of the door at 5.20pm latest and make sure he has his weekends off’, the Tory said.

‘Boris has lost that edge. You could say Boris, we need you to take a really difficult turn, and he would use his common sense and get out of it.

‘The illness may have had an impact. The spontaneity… I wonder whether mentally he’s not as sharp because he’s been seriously ill.’ 

The PM is also coming under increasing scrutiny for a lack of public appearances, interviews and press conferences since his return to work from his coronavirus hospitalisation. 

He has taken just one of the daily news conferences in Number 10, on May 11, with other ministers taking charge, including Home Secretary Priti Patel tonight.  

Sir Paul Nurse said Britain has been left on the ‘back foot’ with a lack of clear planning that left it ”firefighting through successive crises’, in a scathing attack on the political establishment.

The geneticist, who won the Nobel Prize for Medicine in 2001, criticised the PM (pictured last night), telling the BBC’s Today Programme: ‘I’m not completely convinced that we are actually being quite clear in having good leadership’

Apart from his address to the nation on May 10, his only other visible public appearances have been two underwhelming performances at Prime Minister’s Questions.

But this afternoon he did finally agree to  face MPs’ questions next week with an appearance at the Commons’ Liaison Committee.    

The MP said they still thought the PM would emerge from the situation, suggesting any government would be under fire at this point. ‘We are on a sticky wicket. You don’t have to look too much under the surface to find things to be critical about,’ they said.

The future of ‘spoons: Boss Tim Martin reveals plans to REOPEN 875 pubs 

JD Wetherspoon today revealed its £11million masterplan to reopen its 875 pubs as soon as the Government gives them the nod in July – but while the blueprint promises social distancing there is no mention of the two-metre rule experts say will decimate the hospitality sector.

Drinkers will be told ‘not to meet in large groups’ and will be expected to sanitise their hands on arrival and at other times during their visit. 

They will follow one-way systems to the toilets and through the bar where the tills will be screened off to protect staff likely to be wearing masks, gloves and eye protection, the chain said.

Staff will hand over all drinks holding the base of the pint or wine glass and when ordered via a smartphone they will be delivered to the table on a tray for the customers to take themselves to reduce the chances of spreading Covid-19. 

Families will be asked to keep children seated and always accompanied to the toilet.

The 875 pubs in UK and Ireland will open during its usual hours of 8am to around 1am and encourage customers to order using its app with posters put up telling them ‘there is no need to visit the bar’. 

But people can pay by cash or card at the till if necessary and must not move any furniture

But they warned that Sir Keir Starmer had been making headway in the Commons. ‘It is going down well. We need to be careful. Keir is a savvy guy. He can think on his feet,’ the MP said.

Sir Paul, the chief executive of the distinguished Francis Crick Institute, said the country had been ‘increasingly playing catch-up’ and scientists and politicians should lay out ‘a much clearer publicly-presented strategy’ to tackle the pandemic. 

The geneticist, who won the Nobel Prize for Medicine in 2001, told the BBC’s Today Programme: ‘I’m not completely convinced that we are actually being quite clear in having good leadership.

‘The question I keep asking myself is: Do we have a proper Government system in here that can combine tentative knowledge, scientific knowledge, with political action?

‘And the question I’m constantly asking myself is: Who is actually in charge of the decisions? Who is developing the strategy and the operation and implementation of that strategy?

‘Is it ministers? Is it Public Health England? The National Health Service? The Office for Life Sciences, Sage (Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies)? I don’t know, but more importantly, do they know?’

Last night another top scientist claimed thousands of lives could have been saved from Covid-19 if Britain’s lockdown was imposed just one week earlier.

Government scientific adviser Sir Ian Boyd, a member of Number 10’s SAGE panel, admitted ‘it would have made quite a big difference’ if ministers acted sooner to fight the outbreak.

Department of Health figures show 36,042 Brits have died after testing positive for the coronavirus, which began to rapidly spread in the UK in March.

The Government is expected to unveil a new quarantine scheme today that forces anyone entering the UK to isolate for 14 days. 

And so-called coronavirus ‘immunity certificates’ that could allow Britons to return to work have come a step closer after ministers announced that mass antibody tests are being deployed.

NHS and care workers will start to be given the tests from next week after Matt Hancock announced the government has signed a contract for 10 million kits.

The screening will finally show who has been through the disease and emerged with some level of resistance, a blind spot that has so far been a major blow to the UK response.

Asked about the country’s approach to the outbreak on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, Sir Paul said: ‘I’m not sure we are quite getting it right.’

Sir Paul added: ‘Everybody involved, not just the politicians, the scientists and the doctors, we’re all making mistakes and we have to try and learn from what mistakes have been made up until now.

‘I get a sense the UK has been rather too much on the back foot, increasingly playing catch-up, firefighting through successive crises.’

He suggested that what was needed was to ‘get a much clearer publicly-presented strategy as to what we’re actually trying to do, and the evidence upon which it is based’.

Sir Paul added: ‘And we’re not getting that in communications. Maybe there’s a strategy there, I don’t see it.’

Detailed statistics show that more than 44,000 people have already died with COVID-19 in the UK, but a study from the University of Southampton suggested that number could have been kept to 11,200 if lockdown was introduced earlier

Asked about the use of quarantine, Sir Paul suggested more evidence was needed about the infectiousness of people with coronavirus and how this was revealed through symptoms.

Australia pushes to be first country exempted from UK’s new 14-day quarantine rules as arrivals face ‘spot checks’ on homes

Australia is pushing to be the first country exempted from the UK’s new 14-day coronavirus quarantine – as arrivals face ‘spot checks’ on homes and £1,000 fines for breaking the rules.   

Ministers are due to unveil plans for mandatory isolation of everyone coming into the country, in a bid to stop the deadly disease flaring up again.  

Those who flout the orders face £1,000 fines, followed by even tougher penalties if the they fail to pay. 

Arrivals will be required to supply an address where they will be isolating, enforced by public health officers carrying out random visits. 

Exemptions from the tough regime will be extremely limited to start with, mainly covering lorry drivers, NHS workers and fruit pickers considered essential to run the economy and health services. Free movement with Ireland will also be maintained, with the Common Travel Area a key part of the peace deal.

The system is not expected to be finalised until the Commons returns from recess at the beginning of next month. However, Transport Secretary Grant Shapps has already raised the prospect of ‘air bridges’ to low-infection countries being introduced at a later stage.

Reports in Australia suggest PM Scott Morrisson is pushing for his country, which has almost wiped out the virus, to be left out of the curbs. 


He said: ‘Because for a long time it’s been clear that people without symptoms can be infected and therefore be infectious to other people and yet in the hospitals and in the care homes we haven’t been testing such people.

‘So we have been allowing people, care workers, to be in the ward, who are potentially infected, infecting patients, infecting themselves, and as a consequence making hospitals potentially unsafe places to be.

‘We have to see a changed strategy there that is reliant upon the real evidence.’

He continued: ‘I don’t see clarity in the public sphere about these sorts of arguments that need to be shown to the public so that they feel actually they are safe when they go to hospital.’

Sir Paul said there was ‘another mistake’ when the testing strategy was put in place.

He said: ‘There were many laboratories around the country, smaller laboratories, that could have got a major, major increase in testing capacity much more quickly than was possible with the big labs.’

Sir Paul said he did not think there should be a formal inquiry into the UK’s response to the outbreak now, but more ‘openness’ was needed, alongside a ‘greater debate in the public domain’.

Northern Ireland Secretary Brandon Lewis said he ‘wouldn’t agree’ with Sir Paul’s criticism, explaining that the Government has followed ‘the best advice that is out there’.

He said: ‘I think what we have seen through this actually is we as a Government have been very clear with people, very transparent with people.

‘The Prime Minister himself has been very clear – the Prime Minister ultimately is responsible.

‘We do follow the best advice that is out there from both the scientific advisers, our chief medical advisers and the teams there but ultimately it is the ministers who make decisions.

‘And I think that is one of the things we have seen throughout this process, is our working to ensure we get as much information to people as we can to ensure that people understand what we can all do to play our part in keeping the R level down.’

Northern Ireland Secretary Brandon Lewis said he ‘wouldn’t agree’ with Sir Paul’s criticism, explaining that the Government has followed ‘the best advice that is out there’

Thousands of lives could have been saved if Britain imposed lockdown a WEEK earlier than March 23, claims government scientific adviser

Sir Ian Boyd, a member of Number 10’s SAGE panel, admitted ‘it would have made quite a big difference’ if ministers acted sooner to fight the outbreak

Thousands of lives could have been saved from Covid-19 if Britain’s lockdown was imposed just one week earlier, a government scientific adviser has claimed.

Sir Ian Boyd, a member of Number 10’s SAGE panel, admitted ‘it would have made quite a big difference’ if ministers acted sooner to fight the outbreak.

Department of Health figures show 36,042 Brits have died after testing positive for the coronavirus, which began to rapidly spread in the UK in March.

But the true number of Covid-19 victims is feared to be closer to the 60,000-mark, when suspected and indirect deaths are taken into account.

Sir Ian’s claim comes after research this week claimed triggering the UK’s lockdown a week earlier would have saved tens of thousands of lives.

The shock study suggested enforcing strict rules to fight the coronavirus crisis on March 16 could have limited the number of deaths to 11,200.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson sent the country into lockdown on March 23, 60 days ago, banning people from meeting up with others or making unnecessary trips.

Britain was one of the last countries in Europe to put the rules in place – Germany, Belgium, France, Spain and Italy had done it days or weeks earlier.


An report published in March by the Imperial College COVID-19 Response Team outlined the dates on which various countries in Europe started their lockdown measures.

Each is listed below, alongside the COVID-19 death toll for each country, as of May 20.

The numbers on their own do not suggest a direct link between the timing of lockdown and the number of people who died, showing that other factors come into play. 

The most comparable countries in size to the UK are France, Germany, Italy and Spain. 

  • Austria: March 16; 633 deaths
  • Belgium: March 18; 9,150 deaths
  • Denmark: March 18; 561
  • France: March 17; 28.022
  • Germany: March 22; 8,193
  • Italy: March 11; 32,169
  • Norway: March 24; 233
  • Spain: March 14; 27,778
  • Sweden: No lockdown; 3,743
  • Switzerland: March 18; 1,883
  • United Kingdom: March 24; 35,341

Sir Ian, a professor of biology at the University of St Andrews, told The Coronavirus Newscast: ‘Acting very early was really important.  

‘I would have loved to have seen us acting a week or two weeks earlier and it would have made quite a big difference to the steepness of the curve of infection and therefore the death rate.

‘And I think that’s really the number one issue – could we have acted earlier? Were the signs there earlier on?’

He said the UK, as well as some of its European counterparts, were ‘slower off the mark’ than nations that had battled SARS in the early 2000s. 

SARS, caused by another type of coronavirus, infected 8,000 people worldwide and killed 774 people in a year in 2002.

Sir Ian added: ‘One could point the finger at ministers and politicians for not being willing to listen to scientific advice.

‘You could point the finger at scientists for not actually being explicit enough. But at the end of the day all these interact with public opinion as well. 

‘And I think some politicians would have loved to have reacted earlier but in their political opinion it probably wasn’t feasible because people wouldn’t have perhaps responded in the way they eventually did.’

The membership of the secretive SAGE committee which has been advising the Government on its handling of coronavirus was finally made public earlier this month.


February 28: Virus started spreading uncontrollably in Britain, according to the World Health Organization. 

March 3: Government and NHS officially launched campaign urging people to wash their hands more often.

March 12: Anyone who developed a fever or a new cough, regardless of whether they got tested for COVID-19, was told to self-isolate for two weeks.  

March 16: Social distancing begins: 

  • Public were told to avoid contact with people outside of their homes, to work from home where possible, and to only take essential travel, such as to and from work or medical appointments. 
  • Pubs and restaurants are not forced to close but people are encouraged to avoid them.
  • Likewise, the Government refused to ban large gatherings and sports events but said police and ambulances would no longer be provided for them. 

March 20: Major businesses were ordered to close immediately, including gyms, leisure centres, pubs, cafes, restaurants, theatres and cinemas.

March 23: Full lockdown introduced:

  • In a speech to the nation Prime Minister Boris Johnson urged everyone to stay at home unless necessary, only leaving to shop, to go to medical appointments or to exercise once per day. 
  • Gatherings of people were banned, regardless of size, and people prohibited from mixing with others outside of their household.
  • Everyone was told to work from home if possible. Many non-essential workers were forced to stop working if they couldn’t do it from home. 
  • Schools shut their doors except to the children of essential workers. 

March 24: All non-essential businesses, including clothing shops and hairdressers, were ordered to close. 

The names of those who sit on the panel had not previously been published on security and independence grounds.

But officials bowed to mounting pressure and released the names of 50 experts across many fields who have sat in regular meetings during the pandemic.

The names on the list included well-known figures who have been involved in the daily press conferences, including chairman Sir Patrick Vallance.

It also included Chief Medical Officer Professor Chris Whitty and his deputies Dr Jenny Harries and Professor Jonathan Van Tam.

Others present were epidemiologist Professor Neil Ferguson and Dr Demis Hassabis, the chief executive of Google’s DeepMind subsidiary.  

Dr John Dagpunar, from the University of Southampton, echoed Sir Ian’s claims in shock research published earlier this week.

He said in his paper: ‘Literally, each day’s delay in starting lockdown can result in thousands of extra deaths.’

Dr Dagpunar, a mathematical sciences expert, added: ‘It does pose the question as to why lockdown did not occur earlier?’  

He predicted how different scenarios may have affected the progress of the Covid-19 outbreak in Britain.

Starting the lockdown a week earlier on March 16 could have limited the number of deaths to 11,200, his analysis showed. 

Dr Dagpunar’s study considered the number of people infected with the virus, its rate of reproduction, hospital bed and staff capacity, and the proportion of patients who die, among other factors.

He calculated the death rate to be one per cent, and the pre-lockdown reproduction rate (R) to be 3.18, meaning every 10 patients infected a further 32.

The paper estimated that 4.4 per cent of all patients need hospital treatment, 30 per cent of whom will end up in intensive care.

Of the intensive care patients, a hospital stay lasts 16 days on average and half of them go on to die.

Of the other 70 per cent, a hospital stay averages eight days and 11 per cent die.

The study suggested that a lockdown which began a week earlier – on March 16 – would have led to a total of 11,200 people dying and just two per cent of the population catching the virus (98 per cent susceptibility)

A second model, which most closely aligns with what is happening in the UK right now, suggests that six per cent of the population get infected and around 39,000 people die. The demand for hospital beds is considerably higher than in the previous estimate. Britain is known to have more than 44,000 deaths already so this estimate is still too low

The study suggests that an earlier lockdown would have led to smaller peaks in deaths and demand for hospital beds

Dr Dagpunar’s research showed a sharper, higher peak in deaths and demand for hospital beds in the UK’s current situation, in which the lockdown began on March 23. The total death toll for this model (39,000) has already been exceeded, however

The Imperial College COVID-19 Response Team, which has been advising the Government, estimated in March that the global average R0 of the coronavirus was 3.87. As social distancing and lockdown took effect that number has now plummeted to below 1, potentially as low as 0.5, meaning the virus will die out naturally if this continues

Experts suggested coronavirus was ‘disappearing’ from the UK, with deaths down and new cases in London below 50 a day


Business leaders and politicians last night pleaded with the Government to unlock the economy and get Britain moving after figures appeared to show the Covid-19 outbreak was coming under control.

Experts suggested coronavirus was ‘disappearing’ from the UK, with deaths down and new cases in London below 50 a day.

Official figures revealed on Thursday how deaths, hospital admissions and new infections have dropped significantly since the epidemic peaked in early April.

The R-rate – which shows how quickly the virus is spreading – is also said to be falling.

Professor Carl Heneghan, director of the Centre for Evidence-Based Medicine at Oxford University, said coronavirus was ‘disappearing at a rate that’s speeding up’, and urged politicians to ‘open up businesses’ to prevent a second wave of deaths caused by economic collapse.

Conservative former leader Iain Duncan Smith said: ‘We need to move fast. The threat facing us now, outweighing coronavirus, is that of a failing economy.’

Tory ex-minister John Redwood said: ‘We are going to have unemployment on a scale not seen for many a year… unless we get furloughed people back to work.’

Running these factors through an algorithm based on the timing of the UK’s outbreak, Dr Dagpunar suggested that the March 23 lockdown could have resulted in a total of around 39,000 deaths.

Britain is known to have passed this grim landmark number already, suggesting that the study’s estimate of fatality rate, virus R rate, or another factor, is too low.

If lockdown had been started a week earlier, on March 16, the model suggested, there could have been a ‘very large reduction’ in deaths, limiting them to around 11,200.

The virus would have infected four per cent less of the population in this scenario (two per cent compared to six per cent), the study said, and the demand for hospital beds would have been lower. 

Dr Dagpunar said: ‘In hindsight [this] clearly illustrates that earlier action was needed and would have saved many lives.’   

‘Literally, each day’s delay in starting suppression (lockdown) can result in thousands of extra deaths. 

‘The same is true for premature relaxation, acknowledging that the rate of decline is less than the rate of growth, so the effect although severe is not quite as strong. 

‘These conclusions are the incontrovertible consequence of the exponential growth and decline of a managed epidemic.’  

Dr Dagpunar’s paper was published on the website medRxiv without being checked by other scientists or journal editors.

Polls of Brits show around two thirds of people think the government took too long to put the UK in lockdown.  

But other experts say ministers ‘lost sight’ of the evidence and rushed into lockdown, praising Sweden for holding its nerve and not shutting down the economy.

Surveillance studies have shown the crucial R rate had already began to drop before the draconian measures were introduced. 

And other data suggested transmission had peaked after the softer social distancing measures to curb the outbreak were rolled out on March 16. 

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