For Boris Johnson, and possibly Trump, Covid as metaphor is difficult to shake.
President Trump received a good call last week from one of the few foreign leaders who knows what he’s been through: UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who survived severe exposure to coronavirus this spring.
Mr. Trump used the call as another opportunity to boast of a speedy recovery from Covid-19. But he shouldn’t be comforted by Mr. Johnson’s experience – and not just because the Prime Minister has ended up in intensive care.
Six months after his discharge from the hospital, Mr Johnson still has to shake off questions about the impact of the illness on his energy, focus, and spirit, and the notion that his illness has become a symptom of his wider political decline.
“It’s a metaphor for his government and it concerns him personally,” said Jonathan Powell, who served as Tony Blair’s chief of staff as prime minister. “He looks like the wrong man for the job at this point.”
Despite his best efforts, Mr Johnson failed to recapture the public buoyancy that drove him to a landslide election victory last December.
A speech he gave on Tuesday at his Conservative Party’s annual conference “was obviously an opportunity to shake off the feeling that he is half the man he used to be, that he has lost his vigor and brio,” said Andrew Gimson , one of Mr. Johnson’s biographers.
“But he didn’t shake it off,” said Mr. Gimson.