Boris Johnson is “not a complete clown”, his new communications chief has insisted, as he revealed that the prime minister sung a defiant rendition of Gloria Gaynor’s ‘I Will Survive” when the pair discussed his new role last week.
Days after being appointed the new Downing Street spin doctor after a clearcut of aides, Guto Harri claimed the government would be “more focused on delivery” – and vowed that Johnson was “aware of the appalling misery” caused by Partygate.
Harri, a Welsh-speaking former aide to the prime minister when he was mayor of London, told Welsh language website Golwyg 360 that Johnson is “not a complete clown, he’s a very likeable character”.
He also revealed that, after exchanging lines from Gaynor’s 1970s smash hit and “a lot of laughing”, he and Johnson “sat down to have a serious discussion about how to get the government back on track and how we move forward”.
‘He’s not the devil’
Harri added: “90 per cent of our discussion was very serious but he’s a character and there is fun to be had. He’s not the devil like some have mischaracterised him.”
And he said Johnson “has to persuade his party and people on the ground that he is still the man who got a comfortable majority as recently as two years ago”.
While it is rare for senior advisers to make public comments, Harri revealed that his “taking the knew” in support of the Black Lives Matter movement on GB News last summer was teased by Johnson in their first face-to-face meeting in years.
He said he was called into to see Johnson on Friday, 24 hours after it was announced that Jack Doyle had resigned as communications director.
Recounting his conversation with the prime minister, Harri said: “Although I haven’t seen him in person for years, we picked up where we left things, in terms of the tone of our friendship.
‘I will survive’
“I walked in, I saluted to the PM and said: ‘Prime minister, Guto Harri reporting for duty.’
“He stood up from behind his desk and started to take the salute but he said: ‘What am I doing? I should take the knee for you.’
“The two of us laughed. Then I asked: ‘Are you going to survive, Boris?’
“And he said in his deep voice – slow and purposeful – starting to sing a little while finishing the sentence and saying: ‘I will survive.’
“I inevitably invited him to say: ‘You’ve got all your life to live,’ and he replied: ‘I’ve got all my love to give,’ so we had a little blast from Gloria Gaynor!
“No one expects that, but that’s how it was.”
He added: “Everyone’s focus has been on recent events that have caused a lot of hurt, but in the end, that’s nothing to do with the way people voted two years ago.
“He’s not a complete clown, but he’s a very likeable character … He is not a vicious man as some misrepresent him. ”
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