Coronavirus: Boris Johnson back to work on Monday to halt growing criticism of leadership vacuum
Prime minister’s recovery, three weeks after entering hospital, will raise Tory hopes that plan for easing the lockdown will follow
He will mark his return by summoning cabinet ministers to provide him with face-to-face updates on the progress their departments are making on tackling the virus and its fallout.
One No 10 insider said: “The PM has been doing all the right things and following his doctor’s advice to come back to work — and he is raring to go.
“He has told the team he will be back at his desk on Monday morning. It’s given everyone a huge lift.”
The return, earlier than some medical experts expected, will fuel hope that the government will put behind it recent doubts about how to steer the next stage of the coronavirus crisis.
Conservative backbenchers have laid bare their frustrations at ministers batting away calls to set out options for easing restrictions.
“I understand the prime minister is going to be back in harness in Downing Street at the beginning of next week and I very much hope that will signal a clear step change.”
Although Mr Raab has chaired cabinet and the crucial Covid-19 committee of senior ministers, the extent of his power to propose or make decisions has been unclear.
However, Tories and members of the public hoping for a partial release from the restrictions after the next review date, 7 May, are likely to be disappointed.
Mr Johnson, following his severe illness, is believed to side with the “doves” in the cabinet, led by health secretary Matt Hancock, who want the lockdown to stay in place for now.
Mr Johnson revealed his imminent return during a three-hour summit with senior aides at Chequers, his countryside retreat for his recovery, on Friday.
In what was described as a “tightening of grip from the prime minister”, he met with Mr Raab, Mr Sunak and chief advisers including Dominic Cummings and Eddie Lister.
Until then, Mr Johnson had restricted his involvement to a series of telephone calls and Zoom video meetings with key figures.