Senior cabinet ministers are facing questions about who is making the big decisions in government while Boris Johnson battles coronavirus in intensive care.
Some MPs are calling for a caretaker prime minister to be appointed – and Lord Heseltine, who was deputy prime minister under John Major, has called for greater clarity on the powers handed to Dominic Raab, the PM’s stand-in.
After England’s chief medical officer suggested mistakes had been made in the UK’s approach to testing, a strategy for increasing the number of COVID-19 tests is a key issue confronting the cabinet in the prime minister’s absence.
But the biggest dilemma for ministers is how and when to end the coronavirus lockdown.
Raab has refused to confirm whether a decision on easing restrictions would be taken on Easter Monday – and he suggested it could be delayed.
There are now claims of a power vacuum at the heart of government after Downing Street revealed there are strict limitations on Mr Raab’s powers while he is deputising for Mr Johnson in key meetings.
There are also doubts in Whitehall about whether critical decisions on the lockdown can be taken without Mr Johnson’s input.
Mr Raab, who is first secretary of state as well as foreign secretary, has struggled to answer questions on whether he has the authority to change course.
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