Tuesday, 9 May 2023

To squirm or not to squirm


One should always be careful about believing the detail of what people plugging a book – or a podcast – about politics have to say. They do, after all, have a vested interest in selling something, and brash headlines are not exactly unhelpful. Guto Harri, Boris Johnson’s former Communications Chief has been at it today, claiming that Johnson squared up to the soon-to-be-king and gave him a dressing down over his description of the Rwanda policy as 'appalling' leaving Charles ‘squirming’; that Johnson thought that Sue Gray was a ‘psycho’ (takes one to know one, maybe?); and that Johnson was all set to sack Rishi Sunak as Chancellor when Sunak beat him to it by resigning, the dastardly Chancellor that he was.

There is a question over the discretion of both men in talking about what did or did not happen in what was supposed to be a private conversation with Charles but, notwithstanding the golden rule about being careful about taking the word of someone who has something to sell, it is entirely credible that Johnson would have said all these things to Harri. What is a lot less credible, though, is that Harri, as someone who knew Johnson better than most, and would have been extremely familiar with his tendency to dissimulate, exaggerate, and say different things to different people, could apparently have so readily believed that what Johnson was saying to him might bear some relationship to truth.

Johnson has denied the bit about Charles, of course, with a ‘source close to him’ claiming that he “does not recognise this account and it is inaccurate”. Well, he would, wouldn’t he, to coin a phrase. Johnson’s great hero, Churchill, once said that he knew that history was going to be kind to him because he intended to write that history. In Johnson’s case, we have two versions of history in one day, and in all probability neither of them actually reflects what happened. Still, it might all help to sell a podcast or two.

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