Boris Johnson sang ‘I will survive’ as he welcomed his new communications chief into the job, it has been claimed.
Guto Harri, a former BBC journalist who worked for Johnson when he was Mayor of London, made the claim after taking up the role.
In an interview with the Welsh language news website Golwg360, Harri also said Johnson is “not a total clown” and is “a very likeable character”.
The appointment of Harri as Johnson’s director of communications follows a swathe of resignations among the Prime Minister’s aides.
Recalling his meeting with the Prime Minister, Harri suggested there was a “blast of Gloria Gaynor” when they met.
He said: “I walked in and I did a salute and said: ‘Prime Minister, Guto Harri reporting for duty’, and he stood up behind his desk and started to take a salute but then he said: ‘What am I doing, I should take the knee for you’.
“And the two of us were laughing. After I asked him: ‘Are you going to survive, Boris?’, and in his deep voice, slowly and purposefully, while singing slightly he finished his sentence by saying: ‘I will survive’.
“In a way I could not resist he invited me to say: ‘You’ve got all your life to live’, and he replied: ‘I’ve got all my love to give’, and so we had a little blast of Gloria Gaynor.”
Harri added: “Nobody expects that, but that’s the way it was. There was a lot of laughing and we sat down to have a serious chat about how to get the Government back on track and how do we move forward.
“Everyone’s attention is currently on recent events that have caused a great deal of hurt, but in the end, that’s nothing to do with the way people voted two years ago.”
Harri, who previously served as a key aide to Johnson while he was mayor of London, said “90%” of their discussion was “very serious”.
He said the Prime Minister is “not the devilish man as some wrongly portray him to be”.
The newly appointed spin doctor also said Johnson is aware of questions about his ability to continue in the top job.
He said there has been a move to reorganise No 10 with “professional people who are pragmatic and more experienced, and perhaps less ideological”.
He said Johnson talks “ceaselessly” about “making a success of Brexit, bringing us out of the pandemic and all the problems that have been caused in the wake of the pandemic” and “making sure levelling up creates something meaningful”.
Harri added: “He’s aware of the awful hurt all the talk about these parties has created, and that it has shaken people’s trust in the Government and politics in general, and there are questions about his ability to continue as Prime Minister.”
Johnson now has to “persuade his party and the people on the ground that he is still the man who got a comfortable majority as recently as two years ago”, Harri said.
The Prime Minister’s official spokesman did not deny that Johnson and Harri sang together.
“I’m not going to get into the details of private conversations,” he said.
“They are old colleagues and have known each other for some time.”
Asked about Harri’s reported assessment that Johnson is “not a complete clown”, the spokesman said: “I think obviously he is firmly committed to the Prime Minister’s agenda and delivering on the public’s priorities.”
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