Boris Johnson described Sue Gray as a “psycho”, according to the PM’s former spin doctor Guto Harri. Speaking on LBC this morning ahead of a new podcast series, Mr Harri also revealed Mr Johnson’s attitude to the chief Partygate inquisitor, and also says he planned on sacking Rishi Sunak as Chancellor if he’d managed to stay on as Prime Minister, though Mr Sunak “beat him to it”.
Speaking ahead of Thursday’s podcast release, Mr Harri was asked about Mr Johnson’s view of Sue Gray amid her controversial move to become Sir Keir Starmer’s Chief of Staff.
Mr Harri said Mr Johnson “had respected her a lot, but by the time I got there he was, understandably, getting suspicious and by the end, we were all extremely suspicious of this woman”.
He also revealed Ms Gray had a press officer and it “took me weeks to realise where all these leaks were coming from”, with journalists subsequently moaning to the former comms chief that he was moving their sources.
Asked how Boris described Ms Gray, Mr Harri said he didn’t want to give everything away ahead of the podcasts, but “psycho Sue Gray” will be recurring in his story.
He said: “There was a sense that she lacked perspective as to what he had done… towards the end I think he rightfully thought that there was no perspective and things were completely out of all proportion.”
Mr Harri also criticised Harriet Harman, the Labour Chair of the Commons committee probing whether Mr Johnson lied to Parliament about Partygate.
He said Ms Harman “is not a High Court Judge, she’s the former deputy leader of the Labour Party, and yet he’s meant to trust her that she’s going to come to a dispassionate objective verdict on whether he lied to parliament or not”.
Mr Johnson’s former right-hand man in Downing Street also revealed that the PM had planned to sack Mr Sunak at his next reshuffle, though Mr Sunak’s own resignation as Chancellor “beat him to it”.
Mr Harri says there was a “fundamental disagreement of policy between the two of them”.
He claims tensions had built between No. 10 and No. 11, not because of Partygate or a clash of personality, but because of disagreements over how cash should be spent.
He said: “There was a limited amount of money left, because the Government – understandably – blew a lot of money during Covid, and so what do you do with the money that’s left?”
He says there was pressure in the Conservative Party to cut taxes; Boris Johnson wanted to spend taxpayer cash on key infrastructure like nuclear power stations and off-shore wind; and Rishi Sunak “stubbornly” wanted to continue with cost of living payments.
Mr Harri revealed that “if things hadn’t turned out as they did last July, over the Summer we’d have had a reshuffle and Rishi would have been offered a different job”.
Asked whether Boris was “limbering up to move the Chancellor out of his position”, Mr Harri said he was, though joked that Mr Sunak “beat him to it in a way and brought the whole show down”.
Mr Harri says that when Mr Sunak did resign, he didn’t tell Mr Johnson face-to-face, nor did he send a text.
He reveals Downing Street “discovered on Twitter”, adding it was “a bit rough at the time”.
He said: “All’s fair in love, war and politics, I think that’s all slightly water under the bridge.”
Last night, sources close to Mr Johnson said: “This account is simply inaccurate and does not reflect the conversation that took place. Boris Johnson has had nothing to do with this podcast, had no knowledge of it and deplores any attempt to report such conversations in public.”
Friends of Mr Johnson added that he deeply disapproved of the leaking of conversations with the heir to the throne and would never do so.