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Coronavirus: Pound rises with UK prime minister 'still in charge' in hospital

Tom Belger
·Finance and policy reporter
·2-min read
File photo dated 23/03/2020 of a screen grab of Prime Minister Boris Johnson addressing the nation from 10 Downing Street, London. The Prime Minister has said he has tested positive for coronavirus.
Prime minister Boris Johnson remains in hospital with coronavirus. (PA)

Boris Johnson is “still very much in charge” of the UK government despite spending the night in hospital with the coronavirus, according to a cabinet minister.

The prime minister is expected to undergo fresh tests on Monday, after being advised to go to hospital on Sunday night. A Downing Street spokesman called his admission a “precautionary step,” 10 days after Britain’s leader tested positive for COVID-19.

The pound fell after Johnson was admitted on Sunday, but rose 0.4% against the dollar (GBPUSD=X) after the minister’s comments on Monday morning.

"When a head of state or government is stricken like this, it will cause concern for holders of sterling and sterling assets," Masafumi Yamamoto, chief currency strategist at Mizuho Securities in Tokyo, told Reuters.

Foreign secretary Dominic Raab, seen as de facto deputy prime minister, is expected to take Johnson’s seat in chairing the government’s daily coronavirus meeting on Monday.

Read more: Stocks jump as global coronavirus case growth slows

Housing and communities minister Robert Jenrick told BBC Breakfast on Monday morning: “He spent the night in hospital and of course we all wish him well and we hope that as a result of these tests he will be able to come back to Downing Street as soon as possible.

“He’s been working extremely hard leading the government and being constantly updated. That’s going to continue.

“I’m sure this is very frustrating for him, for somebody like Boris who wants to be hands running the government from the front, but nonetheless he’s still very much in charge of the government.”

Jenrick did not rule out Johnson spending more days in hospital, but said he expected him to be discharged “shortly.”