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Boris Johnson self-isolates after contact tests Covid positive, dealing blow to reset hopes

The timing is unfortunate for Johnson, who had been due to make a series of major announcements in coming weeks.

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London: Boris Johnson’s bid to get his premiership back on track hit a hitch before it even began, as the prime minister was forced to self-isolate after coming into contact with a lawmaker who tested positive for Covid-19.

The development looks set to damage Johnson’s attempt to regain control of the national agenda, after a chaotic few days in Downing Street saw the departure of his most powerful aide, Dominic Cummings, and Communications Director Lee Cain.

It will also revive memories of the premier’s own severe bout of Covid-19, which put him in intensive care in April as the U.K. government struggled to cope with the first peak of the pandemic. He emerged from the hospital saying he’d been close to death.

The timing is unfortunate for Johnson, who had been due to make a series of major announcements in coming weeks, including a much-awaited green plan. That was partly an attempt to move on from the departures of Cummings and Cain, which came after tensions blew up over the way the prime minister’s inner circle operates.

Lurid accounts of those rows dominated the U.K. media over the weekend, but any chance to reset may be hobbled after Johnson’s team announced late Sunday that he was self-isolating. In a tweet, the prime minister said he’s well, has no symptoms and will continue working.

Johnson met with a small group of lawmakers on Thursday morning, including Lee Anderson of Ashfield, who subsequently tested positive for the virus. NHS Test and Trace then asked the prime minster to self-isolate.

Johnson plans to continue speaking to the country during the period, and will also discuss with Parliamentary authorities how he can take part in proceedings remotely.

Green Revolution
Johnson was expected to this week unveil a 10-point environmental plan, part of a self-styled green industrial revolution to meet a law calling for net-zero emissions by 2050, and to create 2 million green jobs by 2030.

The premier is said to be weighing contentious proposals to ban the sale of new petrol and diesel cars within a decade, while the Times reported Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak is considering a a road-pricing plan to plug the resulting drop in revenue.

On Monday, Johnson had also been due to meet with lawmakers from the so-called Northern Research Group to reassure them of his commitment to his election campaign “leveling up” pledges to tackle regional inequality.

Still, for all the talk of the future, the government’s two major short-term challenges will still dominate the agenda — a fact hammered home by the latest news.

With England’s partial lockdown due to end on Dec. 2, Johnson was set to chair meetings in coming weeks discussing the country’s next steps in tackling the pandemic, his office said.

Meanwhile, Brexit talks will continue, with officials from both sides agreeing that the coming week is crucial if a deal is to be reached before Britain’s Dec. 31 exit date. – Bloomberg

Also read: Britain’s ‘Keep Calm and Carry On’ posters show just how messy its Covid response is


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