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Thu, 9 July 2020

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By IKEA

Boris Johnson could miss first PMQs clash since returning from coronavirus battle

Boris Johnson could miss first PMQs clash since returning from coronavirus battle
3 min read

Boris Johnson could miss his first PMQs clash since returning from his battle with coronavirus.

Downing Street has so far refused to say whether the Prime Minister will take part in his first grilling from MPs since returning from work after a three-week absence.

It means Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab, who deputised for Mr Johnson during his recuperation, could again face off against Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer in his second PMQs appearance.

The pair clashed last week during the first ever 'virtual' question session, which saw some MPs quiz Mr Raab on the Government's response via video link.

Mr Johnson has not appeared in parliament since falling ill with the virus on 27 March, but ministers said he was "raring to go" ahead of his return to Downing Street.

On Tuesday, the Prime Minister's spokesperson described his condition as "fine", saying he had been meeting with ministers and chairing daily sessions of the government's coronavirus committee.

But a government source told The Telegraph they were keeping their "options open" in case Mr Johnson felt well enough to attend the session.

However, the Prime Minister is still expected to hold private talks with Sir Keir later in the day to discuss the coronavirus crisis.

It comes after the Labour leader urged ministers to have "adult conversations" with the public about how the UK might exit the lockdown.

Speaking ahead of the talks, slated for 1.30pm, Sir Keir said: "Simply acting as if this discussion is not happening is not credible, especially when other governments and our own devolved administrations have been able to communicate so much more."

But in a TV address from Downing Street on Monday, Mr Johnson said while he wanted to give "maximum transparency" on his plans for restarting the economy, easing up lockdown restrictions too quickly could lead to a deadly second wave of infections and risk "economic disaster".

It is expected Sir Keir will also raise his party's concerns about the spread of virus in care homes after new figures from the Office for National Statistics showed there had been 4,342 further deaths in the fortnight frrom 10 to 24 April.

In a letter to Health Secretary Matt Hancock, Labour's shadow health and social care minister Liz Kendall said the figures "provide yet more evidence of the appalling impact Covid-19 is having on people who use social care, especially in care homes".

She added: "For families and care staff each one of these deaths is a heart-breaking reminder of how quickly the virus spreads amongst vulnerable elderly and disabled people.

"We must ensure everything possible is done to protect people who use social care, and the staff who provide these vital services."

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