Boris Johnson’s new communications chief Guto Harri has reportedly revealed how the Prime Minister sang “I Will Survive” as he discussed his appointment to the top role as part of a major shake up of No 10.
In an interview for Welsh language news website Golwg360, Mr Harri said the pair launched into a rendition of the Gloria Gaynor classic after the public relations executive asked Mr Johnson if he could survive the crisis over his leadership.
Mr Harri, a former BBC journalist who worked for Mr Johnson in the same role when he was Mayor of London, told the website that he saluted the Prime Minister when he greeted him in Downing Street on Friday afternoon.
He also explained how Mr Johnson joked he should be taking the knee - a reference to Mr Harri’s move to take the knee on air during a discussion about England’s footballers while working as a broadcaster for GB News. He was suspended and later quit the channel.
Mr Harri was quoted by the Welsh site saying: “I walked in and I made a salute and said ‘Prime Minister, Guto Harri reporting for duty’ and he stood up from back to his desk and started taking the salute but then he said ‘What am I doing, I should take the knee for you.’
“And we were both laughing. Then I asked ‘Are you going to survive Boris?‘ And he said it in his deep voice, slowly and purposefully and started singing a little while finishing the sentence and saying ‘I Will Survive’.
“Inevitably he invited me 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 of Gloria Gaynor!”
The Prime Minister’s official spokesman did not deny the report but said: “I’m not going to get into the details of private conversations. But as you might expect, they are old colleagues.”
When asked specifically if he was denying the pair sang “I Will Survive”, the PM’s spokesman replied: “Not getting into that. Private conversations.”
Mr Harri’s appointment was announced on Saturday as part of an overhaul of Mr Johnson’s Downing Street operation following weeks of chaos over claims of lockdown busting parties in No10 and other parts of Whitehall.
At the same time time Cabinet Office Minister Steve Barclay was appointed as Mr Johnson’s new chief of staff while Tory MP Andrew Griffith has been appointed head of the No10 Policy Unit.
The changes come after five senior aides quite last week.
The Prime Minister’s spokesman also faced questions about Mr Harri’s previous work as an adviser to Chinese telecoms giant Huawei in his previous role working for the PR agency Hawthorn.
Huawei was banned from the UK’s 5G mobile phone networks in September 2020 amid security concerns.
The spokesman said that Mr Johnson was aware of who Mr Harri had been working for and adding that anyone coming in would have to go through the “requisite” security checks.
In his interview for the Golwg360 site, Mr Harri added: “Everyone’s attention is on recent events that have created a lot of distress, but ultimately, that is nothing to do with the way the people voted two years ago.
“He’s not all clown, but he’s a character who loves it.
“90 per cent of our discussion was very serious but it shows that it is a character and that there is fun to be had. He’s not a vicious man as some misrepresent him.”