With prime minister in ICU, Britain asks: Who’s in charge?
As British Prime Minister Boris Johnson fights the coronavirus in the intensive care unit of a London hospital, the people of his country are wishing him well and also wondering who’s in chargeBy JILL LAWLESS and DANICA KIRKA Associated PressApril 7, 2020, 5:57 PM4 min readLONDON — As British Prime Minister Boris Johnson fights the coronavirus in the intensive care unit of a London hospital, the people of his country are wishing him well — and asking who’s in charge. The answer is ambiguous. Britain’s unwritten constitution does not spell out what happens if a prime minister becomes unable to perform his or her job. There is no official role of acting or deputy prime minister, and heads of government only leave office through resignation or death, Alex Thomas, a program director at the Institute for Government, political think-tank, said. “Boris Johnson continues as prime minister for as long as neither of those things happens,” he said. The U.K.’s leaders can appoint someone to fill in for them temporarily during illness or absences. When he was admitted to the hospital Sunday night, Johnson asked Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab — who also holds the title first secretary of state — to