It has been claimed that senior government officials have expressed concern to Buckingham Palace about Boris Johnson’s behavior during the pandemic.
Apparently staff discussed asking the late Queen to raise these concerns with Mr Johnson at her private audiences.
A new documentary, Laura Kuenssberg: State of chaos, describes significant tensions between Mr Johnson’s political team and the civil service. This included a series of clashes between Mr Johnson’s former chief of staff Dominic Cummings and Sir Mark Sedwill, the former head of the civil service.
Sources told the documentary that senior officials had even spoken to Buckingham Palace about concerns about the former prime minister’s behavior in government.
One said the then prime minister “needed to be reminded of the constitution”. BBC reported.
Others confirmed that there had been a series of telephone conversations and communications between Downing Street and Buckingham Palace that went beyond the normal.
And one described the atmosphere in No10 during this time as “completely dark and completely crazy” and said relations were “just toxic” and that ties between Mr Johnson’s team and the civil service had been “broken”.
There were already concerns at the palace over Mr Johnson’s decision in 2019 to prorogue Parliament, which was ruled unlawful by the Supreme Court.
Former deputy cabinet secretary Helen MacNamara told the documentary: “There were definitely times when the Prime Minister was coming back from illness [he contracted Covid and required hospital treatment] When the kind of perception within the political team at Number 10 was about the failures of the system and the failures of the public service and the failures of various institutions, the way they articulated that was just so extreme that they ruined everything booting up, shutting everything down, starting over again… we were systematically in real trouble.”
Mr Johnson was forced out of Downing Street in part over his response to the pandemic, with him being fined for breaking his own lockdown rules.
As well as being fined for attending his own birthday party in Downing Street’s Cabinet Room, staff regularly met on ‘Wine Friday’ while Covid restrictions were in place.
An investigation by former senior civil servant Sue Gray, now chief of staff to Labor leader Sir Keir Starmer, found “a serious failure” to maintain “the standards expected of the entire British population” during the Covid pandemic.
Staff described feeling they had been allowed to attend lockdown lifting events due to the presence of senior government officials, with Mr Johnson pictured several times in Ms Gray’s report.
“Wine” was mentioned 20 times in the report on lockdown events, which Johnson said were work meetings
The revelation comes a week after former Conservative health minister Lord Bethell said Mr Johnson’s government adopted an “ostrich-head-in-the-sand mentality” at the start of the Covid pandemic and was instead fixated on Brexit.
Lord Bethell, deputy health secretary from March 2020 to September 2021, said that Downing Street “did not want to prioritize the pandemic” when it first emerged, “despite evidence of the threat accumulating”.