Coronavirus: Calling Boris Johnson a 'fighter' is 'offensive' to patients who die, Labour MP says

James Morris
Senior news reporter, Yahoo News UK
A Labour MP has said politicians should stop calling Boris Johnson a 'fighter' while he remains in intensive care. (PA)

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.

Labour MP Chris Bryant (Yui Mok/PA Images via Getty Images)

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:

His plea was soon repeated by Sky News presenter Mark Austin, who shared a message from a frontline A&E doctor:

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.”

Latest coronavirus news, updates and advice

Live: Follow all the latest updates from the UK and around the world

Fact-checker: The number of COVID-19 cases in your local area

6 charts and maps that explain how COVID-19 is spreading

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.

Coronavirus 100 days on: What do we know?

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”.

Read more: 'Things could be moving in the right direction' says chief scientific adviser

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.

Police officers stand guard outside St Thomas' Hospital on Wednesday. (Isabel Infantes/AFP via Getty Images)

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.”

Coronavirus: what happened today

Click here to sign up to the latest news, advice and information with our daily Catch-up newsletter