— This is the script of CNBC's news report for China's CCTV on April 8, 2020, Wednesday.
Like everyone else, we expect Johnson's condition to improve as soon as possible, but if he continues to be hospitalized and unable to function fully as prime minister, experts say Britain's national security is likely to be challenged. Unlike the United States, Britain has no written constitution for the transfer and succession of power in these very special circumstances, which makes many issues difficult.
Although foreign secretary Raab had been assigned to represent Johnson before John was transferred to the intensive care unit, it was unclear how much power Raab has and who is
the real decision maker on major national security issues. The cabinet is said to be split and has demanded more clarity on the powers and responsibilities of Raab.
One of the topics of concern is the right to launch a nuclear attack. Britain is one of five countries with formal nuclear weapons, and only the prime minister can authorize an attack. Asked by the BBC if he had the authority, Mr Raab did not answer directly, saying only that there is a good agreement. Experts tell us that in this particular case, the British cabinet may have more power over important matters.
CSIS DIRECTOR, EUROPE PROGRAM
it really had an impact on the most senior leadership of the British government, my understanding is, the UK cabinet is the decider, without the PM, there has to be an agreement for the cabinet, we hope the decisions, there will be agreement across the cabinet on important issues.
One of Britain's top priorities is fighting the epidemic. We know that the senior leadership of the United Kingdom has been greatly affected by this outbreak. In addition to Johnson who has been placed in intensive care, the British health secretary has already confirmed the infection with a novel coronavirus, and a number of senior officials have developed symptoms. So, will the direction of Britain's fight change? The next very important timing is next week.
Before being sent to the hospital, Johnson ordered a lockdown on March 23 and said he would update this decision three weeks later, that is next Monday. But now, it seems like that the British government is hard to make an decision on schedule.
CSIS DIRECTOR, EUROPE PROGRAM
Um, and now the question is when do you start going back up? And if the economy is the key issue for those key cabinet secretaries, there will be loud arguments pushing potentially Dominic Raab as he has to make this decision early next week to try to curtail the lockdown. Others may say we just have to stay the course to help the country is important. We'll get back up and running in a few weeks. So, you'll see that tension play out. And this is where this questionable succession um, does play into uh, some question marks about where that cabinet will come out on this decision. If in fact, Boris Johnson remains uh, in hospital and not able to be the leader for the cabinet.
The outbreak could also affect Britain's negotiations with the European Union as the current EU official in charge of the negotiations has infected COVID-19. Some analysts tell us that even at best, Britain and the eu will not be able to reach a full agreement this year.
Senior Fellow, Center on the United States and Europe
In all circumstances it's very difficult to imagine how some sort of large-scale trade deal between the U.K. and the EU gets done by the end of the year
Now, British officials say Johnson's condition remains stable. We will keep an eye on this issue.