A Labour MP has called for politicians to stop saying Boris Johnson is a “fighter” in the midst of his coronavirus ordeal.
Chris Bryant, the MP for Rhondda, said the word is “deeply offensive” to those who die from the disease as it “implies they are to blame”.
Johnson remained in intensive care at St Thomas’ Hospital in Westminster on Wednesday.
He was admitted to the unit on Monday, and a number of high-profile politicians subsequently hailed him a “fighter” as they wished him well.
Urging politicians not to use the word, Bryant said he was speaking from his own personal experience as a cancer survivor.
In an impassioned plea, he wrote on Twitter:
Please can all politicians stop talking about the PM having a lot of fight in him. I wish him well. But as one who has had cancer I can tell you this suggestion that disease respects those with “fight” is deeply offensive. It implies that those who lose are somehow to blame.— Chris Bryant (@RhonddaBryant) April 8, 2020
His plea was soon repeated by Sky News presenter Mark Austin, who shared a message from a frontline A&E doctor:
Message received from emergency doc friend “Will the media and others please stop using terms like battling and struggling . It is unfair on sick patients who have no say in the matter. And it’s ok to be scared “ . Just passing on .— Mark Austin (@markaustintv) April 8, 2020
At Tuesday’s coronavirus press conference in Downing Street, Dominic Raab – effectively the acting prime minister while Johnson is being treated – said: “I’m confident he will pull through, because if there is one thing that I know about this prime minister is he is a fighter and he will be back leading us through this crisis in short order.”
Business secretary Nadhim Zahawi said: “I have known Boris for 20 years – he is a fighter and will beat this virus.”
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Former Conservative leader Sir Iain Duncan Smith said: “The Boris Johnson I know is a fighter and his strong sense of duty drives him.”
Former Tory chair Brandon Lewis said: “He’s a fighter and I know is in excellent hands.”
On Wednesday, Downing Street said Johnson is “responding to treatment” as he remains in a stable condition in the intensive care unit.
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The PM’s official spokesman said: “The prime minister remains clinically stable and is responding to treatment.
“He continues to be cared for in the intensive care unit at St Thomas’ Hospital. He’s in good spirits.”
Johnson is continuing to receive “standard oxygen treatment” and is “breathing without any other assistance”.
When asked about the specifics of his condition and treatment, the spokesman said: “The information in the update we have provided was given to us by St Thomas’ Hospital and it contains all the information that the PM’s medical team consider to be clinically relevant.”
He confirmed Johnson is not working while in intensive care and thanked the public for messages of support.
Asked if anyone has been in contact with Johnson, the spokesman said: “The PM is not working, he’s in intensive care, he has the ability to contact those that he needs to, he’s following the advice of his doctors at all times.
“We are hugely grateful for the messages of support that the prime minister has received.
“I think the public response to coronavirus throughout has been fantastic and that has been best exemplified by the applause they’ve been giving to NHS staff every week.”