Boris Johnson called Macron 'Putin's lickspittle', former No10 comms chief Guto Harri reveals

18 May 2023, 00:01 | Updated: 18 May 2023, 06:23

Boris Johnson called Macron 'Putin’s lickspittle', according to the former No10 comms chief
Boris Johnson called Macron 'Putin’s lickspittle', according to the former No10 comms chief. Picture: Alamy/LBC

By Emma Soteriou

Boris Johnson called Emmanuel Macron "Putin’s lickspittle", former No10 director of communications Guto Harri has revealed.

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Speaking on his podcast Unprecedented, Mr Harri revealed that former PM Boris Johnson launched into a "violent attack" on Emmanuel Macron during a meeting.

It came after the French President criticised Mr Johnson's response to the Ukrainian refugee crisis, he said.

"There were tensions early on when people like Emmanuel Macron of France went to Moscow to talk to Putin," Mr Harri explained.

"I think Boris described it privately as ‘nauseating’ and meanwhile I think Macron was feeling the tension from Boris seemingly doing the running with helping Ukraine militarily.

"So when the British press was giving the British government a hard time over our response to the refugee crisis, Macron turbocharged it by criticising Boris pretty directly."

Listen and subscribe to Unprecedented: Inside Downing Street on Global Player

Watch Again: Nick Ferrari speaks with Guto Harri

Mr Harri continued: "Much as Boris is not prone to getting really cross, nor using particularly strong language, this was one where he really flipped.

"At our morning meeting with a small gang of us he just launched into a violent attack on Emmanuel Macron basically saying 'he’s a four-letter word that begins with c, he’s a weirdo, he’s Putin’s lickspittle, we need to go studs up on this one' – a rugby term that basically means gloves off - 'we need an orgy of frog bashing. I’m going to have to punch his lights out.' Pretty strong stuff.

"I’m pleased to say, weeks later of course, they had patched it up. They got on really well.

"They actually went for a whiskey together at the G7 summit."

Boris Johnson says he does not recognise the accounts.

Read more: 'I hope this isn't the last time you and I speak' - Zelenskyy’s words to Boris on night of Russian invasion

Read more: Ukraine can win the war with planes it already has, armed forces minister says, as he warns conflict will last for years

Boris Johnson and Volodymyr Zelenskyy
Boris Johnson and Volodymyr Zelenskyy. Picture: Alamy

Mr Harri also revealed in his latest podcast episode that Mr Johnson had a sombre 4am call with Volodymyr Zelenskyy on the night of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

He said Zelenskyy was "anxious, but very calm" considering the circumstances and Boris "could not have been clearer that we were there to help the Ukraine in whichever way we possibly could".

Mr Harri recalled Zelenskyy saying: "I just hope this is not the last time you and I speak."

Describing the pair's "extraordinary bond", the former comms chief said: "For the first few weeks, even months actually, Boris and Volodymyr, as he called him – they were both on first name terms – would speak every day, sometimes more than that.

"And even months into the conflict, they would speak every two to three days."

He added: "Apart from the detailed discussions about how we were helping, a lot of which was about very specific military hardware, the two of them had this extraordinary bond.

"And dare I mention it, this kind of really dark gallows humour that was obviously a coping mechanism."

Armed Forces Minister says we need to prepare to support Ukraine in war for next few years

The comments come as Putin and Zelenskyy prepare meetings with a delegation of leaders from six African countries to discuss a possible plan to end the war in Ukraine.

The UK recently announced that it would provide Ukraine with further support in the shape of air defence missiles and attack drones.

The provision of warplanes is "not straightforward", Rishi Sunak has said, but he insisted Britain will play an integral role in a coalition of countries providing that support to Ukraine.

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