Former Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s conduct while in office was reported to be a cause for serious concern among senior government officials at the apex of the global pandemic, sparking private discussions with Buckingham Palace.
These clandestine conversations were centered around the potential suggestion to Her Majesty the Queen to broach concerns over the Prime Minister’s conduct during their scheduled private audiences.
This enigmatic revelation came to light during the second episode of the groundbreaking BBC documentary series, “Laura Kuenssberg: State of Chaos”. Through its in-depth analysis of political turmoil in both Westminster and Whitehall over a span of four tumultuous years, this series features candid interviews with key government insiders and political leaders covering events from 2016 through to Liz Truss’ departure as prime minister in 2022.
Throughout May 2020, while the government was battling a global pandemic, there were tense standoffs between Mr. Johnson’s political team and the Civil Service. Sources have now revealed how deeply perturbed senior officials were over the ex-Prime Minister’s conduct, subsequently voicing their apprehensions to Buckingham Palace.
This period of escalating tension witnessed a series of confrontations between Dominic Cummings, Mr. Johnson’s polarizing chief of staff, and then head of the Civil Service, Sir Mark Sedwill, who subsequently resigned his post.
The gravity of this situation moved officials to communicate their concerns to the Palace, hopeful that the Queen might address these worries during her private dialogues with Mr. Johnson. Multiple phone calls and communications were reportedly exchanged aside from typical correspondences between Number 10 and Buckingham Palace.
Informants revealed that at that time, the Prime Minister had to be firmly reminded of constitutional protocols. The environment at Downing Street was described by one source as nothing short of “utterly grim, and totally crazy”, with ‘toxic’ relationships leading to a breakdown of bonds between Mr. Johnson’s team and the Civil Service.
Buckingham Palace had previously expressed worries about Mr. Johnson’s governmental conduct, particularly following the closure of the Commons in the summer preceding these events – an act called “prorogation” that was technically carried out by the Queen. Ultimately the Supreme Court deemed this act unlawful, raising further acute concerns.
Helen MacNamara, former deputy cabinet secretary, while refraining from discussing the calls to Buckingham Palace, shed light on the dire state of affairs post the Prime Minister’s recovery from the Covid-19 illness. She elaborated on the regrettable perception of systemic failures held by the political team at Number 10, which they ascribed to the Civil Service and other institutions, catalyzing reckless acts of destruction and reformation that put them on a precarious path.