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Boris Johnson’s year since election dominated by Covid-19

The pandemic overshadowed all else in the 12 months since the Prime Minister’s landslide win.

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Prime Minister Boris Johnson at a rally with party supporters (PA)

Prime Minister Boris Johnson at a rally with party supporters (PA)

Prime Minister Boris Johnson at a rally with party supporters (PA)

The year since Boris Johnson won a landslide election victory has been dominated by a disease that did not even have a name at the time – Covid-19.

Here, the PA news agency looks at how the country has changed since Mr Johnson came to power.

– December 12: The public overwhelmingly votes for the Conservatives to secure an 80-seat Commons majority for Mr Johnson, as Labour’s heartlands crumbled under Jeremy Corbyn.

– January 9:
The Prime Minister gets his Brexit deal through the Commons.

– January 28: Mr Johnson defies pressure from US President Donald Trump and Tory backbenchers to announce that the Chinese tech giant Huawei can continue to play a limited role in providing the UK’s 5G network.

– January 30: The coronavirus outbreak is declared an international public health emergency by the World Health Organisation (WHO). Earliest known death involving Covid-19 in the UK.

– January 31: The UK leaves the European Union.

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An image of Big Ben projected onto 10 Downing Street, marking the moment the UK left the European Union (Aaron Chown/PA)

An image of Big Ben projected onto 10 Downing Street, marking the moment the UK left the European Union (Aaron Chown/PA)

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An image of Big Ben projected onto 10 Downing Street, marking the moment the UK left the European Union (Aaron Chown/PA)

– February 10: The Government declares coronavirus a “serious and imminent threat to public health” and takes powers to forcibly quarantine people as the number of cases in the UK reaches eight.

– February 13: Sajid Javid resigns as chancellor after being told he must sack all his advisers if he wanted to keep his job.

– February 29: Eleven days after his divorce to his second wife is finalised, Mr Johnson and his partner Carrie Symonds announce they are engaged and expecting a baby.

The top civil servant at the Home Office Sir Philip Rutnam resigns, accusing Home Secretary Priti Patel of bullying.

– March 11: The Covid-19 outbreak is declared a pandemic by the WHO.

– March 23: Mr Johnson imposes a lockdown with the closure of all non-essential shops and restrictions on people leaving their homes. The UK Covid-19 death toll – based on death certificates that mention Covid-19 – passes 1,000.

– March 27: Mr Johnson and Mr Hancock test positive for Covid-19, while chief medical officer Chris Whitty says he has symptoms of the disease and is self-isolating.

– April 4: Sir Keir Starmer elected Labour leader.

– April 5: Mr Johnson is admitted to St Thomas’ Hospital for tests as a “precautionary step” as his coronavirus symptoms persisted.

– April 6: Mr Johnson is moved to intensive care after his condition worsened.

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Police officers outside St Thomas’ Hospital in Central London while Boris Johnson was in intensive care (Dominic Lipinski/PA)

Police officers outside St Thomas’ Hospital in Central London while Boris Johnson was in intensive care (Dominic Lipinski/PA)

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Police officers outside St Thomas’ Hospital in Central London while Boris Johnson was in intensive care (Dominic Lipinski/PA)

– April 12: Mr Johnson is discharged from hospital to continue his recovery at Chequers, thanking NHS staff for saving his life.

– April 29: Mr Johnson’s fiancee Carrie Symonds gives birth to her first child, a boy called Wilfred.

– April 30: At his first press conference since being in hospital, Mr Johnson says the country is “past the peak of this disease”.

– May 22: Newspapers report that Dominic Cummings, Mr Johnson’s chief adviser, travelled to his parents’ property in Durham with his wife and child at the height of the pandemic in a possible breach of lockdown rules.

May 23: UK’s Covid-19 death toll passes 50,000.

– May 24: Mr Johnson says Mr Cummings “acted responsibly, legally and with integrity”, and “any parent would frankly understand what he did”.

– May 25: Mr Cummings defends his actions at an impromptu press conference in the No 10 rose garden, saying he behaved “reasonably” and does not regret his actions.

He says that he went to Durham because of childcare concerns and a trip to local beauty spot Barnard Castle was to test his eyesight after recovering from the disease.

– May 28: Durham Police said Mr Cummings’ drive to Barnard Castle may have been a “minor breach of the regulations that would have warranted police intervention”, but they would be taking no further action.

– June 7: A statue of slave trader Edward Colston is thrown into Bristol harbour as Black Lives Matter protests sweep across the UK.

– June 23: The Prime Minister announces England’s pubs, restaurants and hairdressers can reopen from July 4.

– July 14: In a major U-turn, Mr Johnson rules Huawei can no longer supply the UK’s 5G’s network and that existing kit must be stripped out after intelligence chiefs warn new US sanctions mean its products are no longer secure.

– July 17: Mr Johnson says it is his “strong and sincere hope” that there will be a “more significant return to normality” from November at the earliest and “possibly in time for Christmas”.

– July 31: The Prime Minister postpones a further easing of lockdown, saying that “our assessment is that we should squeeze that brake pedal” to control the virus.

– August 17: An embarrassing U-turn over the way grades were awarded in England following the cancellation of exams, with teachers’ assessments used instead of what Mr Johnson later branded a “mutant algorithm” .

– August 22: Mr Johnson and Ms Symonds cut short their holiday in Scotland with baby Wilfred after a newspaper published pictures of their cottage.

– September 8: Northern Ireland Secretary Brandon Lewis says the Government’s UK Internal Market Bill will break international law “in a very specific and limited way”. The legislation led to a parliamentary battle and legal action from the European Union.

– September 9: The Prime Minister outlines the “Operation Moonshot” approach of mass testing.

– September 14: The “rule of six” comes into force limiting gatherings in England.

– September 18: Mr Johnson warns that a second wave of coronavirus has arrived in the UK, but “I don’t think anybody wants to go into a second lockdown”.

– September 24: Pubs, bars and restaurants in England restricted to table service only with a 10pm curfew imposed.

– October 14: Piecemeal local restrictions are replaced with tiered arrangements in England, with Liverpool placed in the highest Tier 3.

– October 20: After a high-profile battle between Mr Johnson’s Government and mayor Andy Burnham, Tier 3 restrictions were announced for Greater Manchester.

– October 31: With the tiers unable to control the rising infections, a second lockdown is announced for England, with non-essential shops, pubs and restaurants closed from November 5.

– November 11: Lee Cain resigns as Mr Johnson’s director of communications following a power struggle in No 10.

– November 12: In a further sign of disarray in No 10, Mr Cummings confirms he will leave by the end of the year.

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Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s top aide Dominic Cummings leaves 10 Downing Street (Yui Mok/PA)

Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s top aide Dominic Cummings leaves 10 Downing Street (Yui Mok/PA)

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Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s top aide Dominic Cummings leaves 10 Downing Street (Yui Mok/PA)

– November 13: Mr Cummings walks out of No 10 carrying his belongings in a cardboard box as it becomes clear he has left the heart of government, although he continues working on specific projects.

– November 15: Mr Johnson is forced back into self-isolation after a meeting with Tory MP Lee Anderson who subsequently tested positive for coronavirus.

– November 20: The Prime Minister stands by Home Secretary Ms Patel after an investigation found her conduct “amounted to behaviour that can be described as bullying”. The report’s author Sir Alex Allen quit as Mr Johnson’s independent adviser on ministerial standards in response.

– November 25: Chancellor Rishi Sunak sets out the economic carnage caused by coronavirus – an 11.3% hit to the size of the economy in 2020 and record peacetime borrowing.

– December 1: The Prime Minister suffers his biggest Commons rebellion as 55 Tory MPs oppose the introduction of new tiered coronavirus restrictions to replace England’s lockdown but the measures go through despite the revolt. The UK’s Covid-19 death toll passes 75,000.

– December 2: The UK becomes the first country in the world to approve a coronavirus vaccine.

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