We hope that Boris Johnson is out of hospital and back in Downing Street as soon as possible. For all we know, this happy event will happen sooner rather than later. And like any decent person we hope that he makes a full and swift recovery.
But whenever he returns home, he will need complete rest. In the meanwhile and as we write, important decisions need to be taken: short-term ones, such as how to save lives and support the NHS; and medium-term ones, such how to salvage the economy which, of course, underpins livelihoods and therefore ultimately lives too.
Which in turn means calculating not whether to end the lockdown, but when and how. It’s clear that the latter work, at the very least, can’t take place in a vacuum, and that there are already problems which the Prime Minister’s illness will intensify.
For this reason, Dominic Raab should formally deputise for Johnson until he is back to his normal swashbuckling self – which can’t come soon enough.
One can argue back and forth all day about whether or not the First Secretary of State is the perfect substitute, but that is beside the point, which is that Raab is indeed the First Secretary of State, and therefore closer to being the Prime Minister’s deputy than anyone else.
The present choice is between this imperfect option and a worse one – namely, letting the ship of state drift amidst a storm unprecented in its nature and reach. We hope and expext Johnson will be back very soon to grasp the tiller.