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Boris Johnson challenges critics to arm wrestle as he brands long COVID rumours 'drivel'

George Martin
·2-min read
Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak during a visit to the headquarters of Octopus Energy in London.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak during a visit to the headquarters of Octopus Energy in London. (PA)

Boris Johnson has denied rumours he is still suffering from coronavirus symptoms following his spell in intensive care, accusing his critics of “seditious propaganda”.

In an online Conservative Party conference speech on Tuesday, the prime minister said claims he has lost his “mojo” during his own brush with the virus were as “self-evident drivel”.

Johnson spent several days in intensive care in April and even required given oxygen to help him breathe at one stage in his treatment.

Despite needing a period of recuperation in the aftermath of his illness, the PM has previously insisted that he is not suffering any long-term side effects from the experience.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson delivers his address to the virtual Conservative Party Conference, where he announced a ??160 million boost for 'clean energy' initiative. (Photo by PA Video/PA Images via Getty Images)
Prime minister Boris Johnson delivers his address to the virtual Conservative Party Conference. (PA)

“I’ve read a lot of nonsense recently about how my own bout of COVID has somehow robbed me of my mojo,” he said on Tuesday.

“And of course this is self-evident drivel the kind of seditious propaganda you’d expect from people who don’t want this government to succeed, who wanted to stop us delivering Brexit and all our other manifesto pledges - I can tell you that no power on Earth was, or is, going to do that.

Read more: Boris Johnson 'has absolutely recovered' from COVID-19, insists health secretary

“I could refute this critics of my athletic abilities in any way they want; arm wrestling, leg wrestling, Cumberland wrestling, sprint-off – you name it.

“And yet I have to admit the reason I had such a nasty experience with the disease is that although I was superficially in the pink of health when I caught it, I had a very common underlying health condition.

“My friends I was too fat, and I’ve since lost 26 pounds and I’m going to continue that diet because you’ve got to search for the hero inside yourself and hope that individual is considerably slimmer.”

Elsewhere in his speech, Johnson insisted there was no alternative to the coronavirus restrictions he has been forced to introduce as he promised to forge a new Britain “in the teeth of this pandemic”.

Boris Johnson’s promises

The prime minister said he is confident that the UK will defeat coronavirus and said the government plans to "build back better" with a number of new pledges:

  • A promise to power every home with offshore wind by 2030

  • Help for first-time buyers with 95% mortgages

  • Planning system reforms which will make it “faster and easier to build beautiful new homes”

  • Reforms to the social care system

  • Improvements in education

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