AN editor at The Economist has apologised after suggesting Boris Johnson had faked his life-threatening brush with coronavirus.

Chris Lockwood, the well-respected magazine’s Europe editor, made the comments after the Prime Minister released a video thanking NHS staff for saving his life.

The Tory leader spent seven days in hospital last week, including three nights in intensive care after his coronavirus symptoms, including a cough and a high temperature, persisted. The UK Government said he was not put on a ventilator but had continued to receive “standard oxygen treatment”.

In the five-minute film, Johnson said he had left hospital “after a week in which the NHS has saved my life, no question”.

Sharing the video, Lockwood tweeted: “This is not someone who was at death’s door a few days ago. Something incredibly fishy about the whole business.”

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The comment sparked fury. Tory MP Nadhim Zahawi tweeted: “Chris, this is beneath you. This is also deeply insulting to the great doctors, nurses and all the staff at St Thomas’s Hospital who helped Boris Johnson on the road to recovery.”

Party colleague Robert Halfon wrote: “Is this really what you expect from a truly quality magazine like The Economist?”

Fellow Tory MP Nadine Dorries, a former nurse, tweeted: “You actually know he was a heartbeat away from being ventilated and all that entails. What is sinister & disturbing is that an educated journalist working for a reputable publication would use his twitter account to spread conspiracy theories about a man who was v seriously ill.”

Defence Minister Nigel Adams responded: “He may be educated @NadineDorries but I know plenty of clever halfwits and he appears to be one.”

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Yesterday morning, Lockwood backed down. “I have deleted a tweet that cast doubt on whether Boris Johnson had been as seriously ill as reported. I withdraw my comment and apologise for the offence it has caused.”

Lockwood previously worked in Number 10 for David Cameron.

Meanwhile, Downing Street said yesterday that the Prime Minister had tested negative for Covid-19 on leaving hospital.

He is now recovering at his country residence, Chequers. It is understood he has been reunited with his pregnant fiancee Carrie Symonds.

Johnson’s spokesman said the Prime Minister had spoken to Dominic Raab over the weekend. The Foreign Secretary and First Secretary of State has been deputising for Johnson ever since he was admitted to hospital.

“He spoke to the First Secretary of State over the course of the weekend,” the spokesman added.

“The Prime Minister is focusing on his recovery and he is not currently carrying out government work.”

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