DOMINIC Raab has the authority to order military action, Downing Street said yesterday.

But there was little clarity over whether or not this included using the UK’s nuclear weapons.

The comments from a spokesman came as the powers of the de-facto caretaker Prime Minister were under intense scrutiny.

While it’s unlikely he’ll need to take the UK to war, there are still some big decisions that will have to be made by someone sooner rather than later.

The biggest decision is on the lockdown that has left people in the UK stuck in their houses for most of the last three weeks.

A Downing Street official spokesman confirmed that, as well as leading the Government’s daily coronavirus “war cabinet” sessions, Raab would also chair any necessary meetings of the National Security Council.

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The spokesman confirmed that the letters of last resort, the Prime Minister’s sealed final instructions to the commanders of Britain’s Trident nuclear deterrent detailing what to do in the event of an attack on the nation, would not need to be replaced.

“The Prime Minister remains the Prime Minister,” they said.

“In relation to national security, the First Secretary of State and cabinet have the authority and ability to respond in the prime minister’s absence.”

During the daily briefing from Downing Street, Raab – who is also the First Secretary of State – shirked questions about how much authority he actually had.

He said he has “total confidence” in the arrangements that allow him to “deputise” for Johnson.

Raab said that the Cabinet has “very clear instructions” from the Prime Minister.

“I’ve got total confidence in the arrangements that the Prime Minister has put in place so that I can discharge the responsibility for him.

“We’re focused with total unity and total resolve on implementing them so that when he’s back, I hope in very short order, we will have made the progress that he would expect and that the country would expect.

“This team will not blink and will not flinch at the task in hand at this crucial moment,” Raab added.

However, he avoided a question on what would happen if there was a disagreement within the Cabinet.

Meanwhile, Nicola Sturgeon confirmed that John Swinney will take charge during the coronavirus crisis if she becomes incapacitated.

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