Boris 'squared up' to King Charles over Rwanda policy, claims former press chief
Boris Johnson allegedly confronted the King and ‘squared up to him’ after he branded the government’s Rwanda plan ‘appalling’.
Guto Harri, who served as No 10’s director of communications under the former prime minister, claimed Mr Johnson told him he ‘went in quite hard’ on the then-prince.
Mr Johnson rubbished his former ally’s account as ‘inaccurate’, with a source saying he ‘deplores’ any commentary on conversations with royals.
The disagreement stemmed from Charles’ reported criticism of the Rwanda scheme during a meeting in the country’s capital of Kigali during a Commonwealth summit last June.
At the time, Mr Johnson described his discussion with Charles as a ‘good old chinwag’ that ‘covered a lot of ground’.
However, Mr Harri suggested that the meeting was considerably ‘less amicable’ than suggested behind closed doors.
Writing in the Daily Mail, the former BBC journalist said: ‘”I went in quite hard”, he told me at the time, essentially squaring up to the prince and confronting him about what he – as unelected royalty – had said about the actions of a democratically elected government.
‘Prince Charles was busted. He had obviously expressed some criticism, and though he tried to play it down, Boris pointed out the obvious, (saying): “If you didn’t say it we both know your people could ring the newspapers and kill the story. The fact they haven’t done that says it all”.’
Mr Johnson was one of a number of former prime ministers who attended the King’s coronation at the weekend.
Elsewhere, Mr Harri claimed Boris and Charles had struggled to get along for years after the politician was late for a meeting while London mayor, but that Rwanda was the final straw.
‘Relations never fully recovered and Charles will be relieved that Boris had left No 10 before he ascended to the throne,’ he added.
Mr Johnson brought Mr Harri into No 10 after a clearout of aides over the partygate scandal, bringing back his former City Hall communications adviser into his inner circle.
A source close to Mr Johnson said: ‘Boris Johnson does not recognise this account and it is inaccurate. It does not accurately reflect any conversation
‘We would never comment on these matters and Mr Johnson deplores any attempt to do so.’
Mr Harri’s comments come as Mr Johnson’s supporters have called on MPs to consider another leadership contest after Rishi Sunak’s recent drubbing at the local elections.
David Campbell Bannerman – chairman of the grassroots Conservative Democratic Organisation (CDO), said: ‘We’re paying a very heavy price.
‘We’re losing the red wall. We’re losing seats in true blue territory. There needs to be a reset of policy – and if Rishi can’t do that then we need to look at alternatives.’
He added: ‘I personally would like to see Boris back. If Rishi hadn’t connived to bring down Boris, like a story of Tory Macbeth, then we wouldn’t be in this situation.’
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