Boris 'belts out I will Survive' to new communications chief after shake-up at No10

7 February 2022, 14:40 | Updated: 7 February 2022, 17:26

Boris Johnson reportedly sang "I Will Survive" to his new director of communications Guto Harri.
Boris Johnson reportedly sang "I Will Survive" to his new director of communications Guto Harri. Picture: Alamy

By Sophie Barnett

An ebullient Boris Johnson sang "I Will Survive" to his new press chief Guto Harri as he discussed his appointment as part of a major shake up at Downing Street, it has been reported.

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The under-fire prime minister is said to have initiated a rendition of Gloria Gaynor's classic when the pair met last week.

Mr Harri, a Welsh broadcaster who spent 18 years working at the BBC, was appointed Mr Johnson's new director of communications following the resignation of Jack Doyle last week.

His appointment comes amid a huge clear out of aides over the "partygate" scandal at No10, which has seen many Tories lose trust in the prime minister.

Speaking to Welsh site Golwg.360, Mr Harri recalled the encounter, saying that he asked the beleaguered prime minister whether he was "going to survive".

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He told Golwg.360: "I asked: Are you going to survive, Boris?’ And he said in his deep voice – slow and purposeful – starting to sing a little while finishing the sentence and saying: ‘I will survive.’

“I inevitably invited him 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 from Gloria Gaynor. No one expects that, but that’s how it was.”

Mr Harri also shared that he had walked in to the prime minister's office, "saluted to him" and said "Prime minister, Guto Harri reporting for duty".

The press chief said there was “a lot of laughing” and the pair had “a serious conversation about how we get the government back on track and how we move forward”.

He added: “Everyone’s focus has been on recent events that have caused a lot of hurt, but in the end, that’s nothing to do with the way people voted two years ago. He’s not a complete clown, but he’s a very likeable character … He is not a vicious man as some misrepresent him.”

Mr Johnson laughed uncomfortably as he was asked if he had serenaded Guto Harri with the Gloria Gaynor disco anthem to reassure his new director of communications, telling ITV News: "We are focused completely on the big problems the country faces."

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Downing Street would not comment on the interview, with Johnson’s official spokesperson saying he would “not get into private conversations” that the prime minister had with Mr Harri.

Mr Harri, hailed as a "hugely experienced, proper grown up", started playing up to the cameras as he arrived in Downing Street for the first time on Monday.

The 54-year-old appeared to take a swipe at the party culture in No10 by bringing in mineral water and healthy snacks for colleagues while swinging his carrier bag from the Tesco Express at Westminster Tube.

Angela Rayner, the deputy Labour leader, responded by questioning the seriousness of Johnson and his new hire.

“Did I mention that there are no serious people left to serve? They think it’s all just one big joke, don’t they?” she said.

The shake-up of Boris Johnson's team in Downing Street continued on Monday, with another top adviser, Harry Newman, leaving in a "mutual agreement".

The special adviser, seen as close to Mr Johnson’s wife Carrie, will be leaving to work for the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities.

A No10 spokesman says his departure was a "mutually agreed decision" and that there would be further changes "in the coming days".

"We still need to announce the new permanent secretary for No 10, for example. So there will be additional recruitment into No 10 and there's an ongoing process for the PPS (principal private secretary) role too, so that needs to be announced."

On the ministerial side, some of new chief of staff Stephen Barclay's Cabinet Office role will be "shared among Cabinet Office ministers".