Because in almost all other respects, the foreign secretary seemed to cosplay Peter Sellers in Dr. Strangelove. A man so clinically unstable that he has not yet realized that he is by far the most dangerous person in any room he enters.
Pathology manifests itself in different ways. Often Raab is a barely suppressed ball of anger, the vein of that forehead throbbing metronomically as he tries to answer all the delicate questions.
Today, he opted for the more relaxed approach – the Mr Nice Guy who definitely had no guilty secrets. Unfortunately for him, he had more to hide than the usual collection of unsolved murders. Sooner or later someone will have to have a quiet word with Dom and tell him he sucks at this concert. The same is true for almost all other members of the Cabinet.
To be fair, Dom had a particularly bad hand. After the usual denunciations that the government has done a generally brilliant job so far, the Minister of Foreign Affairs has been rather obliged to take stock of the Prime Minister’s health.
Something he tried to mumble afterwards. Boris Johnson was in great shape, excellent spirit. In fact, he was having such a good time running around the country from his bed at St Thomas Hospital that he planned to extend his stay by an additional night.
There was basically nothing wrong with Boris, was the message. He had just gone to the hospital because he was a little bored at home.
Naturally, no one was particularly convinced by Raab’s explanation “He is in a good mood” on the Prime Minister’s health. After all, most people who have even had a light version of the coronavirus said they were wiped out for the best part of the week and good for almost nothing.
However, Raab tried to persuade us that despite a high temperature, a cough and difficulty breathing, Johnson was in great shape and fit for anything. Being prime minister was actually a piss anyone could do from the hospital. No big deal.
“He’s in a good mood,” said Raab again, his eyes wandering around the room. Mr. Cool now looked decidedly disheveled and he inadvertently let the truth out. The last time he had speak to the Prime Minister was Saturday, the day before Boris was admitted to the hospital.
So we were asked to accept that for the past two days, he had been completely out of the loop and that Boris was directing the show himself. Not necessarily bad news for the country, but bad credibility.
There was only one unavoidable conclusion. Boris does not assess Raab or Michael Gove as appropriate members of Parliament to run the country in his absence and believes that he could probably still do a better job than any of them from his hospital bed. It’s a lack of confidence with which most of the country feels sympathy.
At times, Raab turned desperately to the newly recovered chief medical officer Chris Whitty and the deputy chief medical officer of the Department of Foreign Affairs Angela McLean for reassurance. What they both refused to give. Although the nation was delighted to see him again, Whitty seemed to be somewhere else. Probably visit his second home, like the Scottish chief doctor. In this way, he should resign and no longer submit to these excruciating press conferences.
Long before the end, Raab had managed to confuse even the most basic messages. Last week, Boris and Secretary of Health Matt Hancock offered a glimmer of hope with a locked exit strategy, involving armbands and an antibody test. All that was long forgotten now, Dom showed a few slides showing that it was far too early to make such predictions. We retreated quickly.
A constant display in despair by the desperate. A briefing that only muddied the waters: the Queen’s call for national unity is a distant memory. Because what came out most clearly was that no one in government really had a clue what was going on. Even the de facto Prime Minister was not informed of the Prime Minister’s condition.
Within hours, the mirage had fallen. The press conference is totally irrelevant. What Dom had or didn’t know was unimportant. During the afternoon, Boris’s health worsened and he was transferred to intensive care. Dom was now acting Prime Minister. All that anyone could do now was trust the doctors and pray for the best. The crisis had just worsened considerably.