Boris Johnson described himself as ‘führer and king’ to aides, new book claims

Boris Johnson addresses the Conservative Democratic Organisation Conference

Boris Johnson referred to himself as the “führer and king” and said he was “meant to be in control” when he felt he was being bypassed, a new book has claimed.

A special adviser revealed that the former Prime Minister had noticed when his instruction was being ignored and grew “frustrated”.

Johnson at 10: The Inside Story, by historians Sir Anthony Seldon and Raymond Newell, sheds new light on the former Prime Minister’s time in office, from his special advisers’ view on his “dysfunctional” leadership style to his liaisons with the late Queen Elizabeth.

The new book claims that Dominic Cummings — who Mr Johnson made his special adviser in 2019 — held the reigns more and more firmly during the early months of the pandemic with one-third of staff reporting just to him.

According to official sources quoted in the book, Mr Johnson would frequently change his mind and his demands were then discredited by those around him.

A source told Sir Anthony: “It was desperately worrying because he would say three different things on the same day to three different sets of people, and then deny that he had changed his mind or that the positions were mutually contradictory.”

When he was not listened to, Mr Johnson became “increasingly troubled” by being sidestepped which then led to an outburst.

Just months before, at the end of December, Mr Johnson had won the Conservative Party their biggest majority since the Eighties, taking 364 seats out of 650.

But during the pandemic, the book claims he lost his grasp on power which upset him. One special adviser, quoted in the book published earlier this month, recalls him saying: “I am meant to be in control. I am the führer. I’m the king who takes the decisions.”

This comment appears to hark back to the MP for Uxbridge and South Ruislip’s youth as he famously held ambitions to become “world king” as a child.

His premiership saw him liaise with actual royalty which the book claims came in handy on one occasion.

During a walk with the Queen, it is claimed that the late Monarch “delicately planted” the idea that Mr Johnson should set up a meeting with his Irish counterpart Leo Varadkar in a bid to help him break the deadlock that had been reached in negotiations.

In the months prior, Mr Johnson had decided that he must reach a deal with the EU but was facing “animosity” from other European leaders.

During his annual trip to Balmoral in 2019, Mr Johnson then had a private chat with The Queen from which he emerged with a new idea. Sir Anthony writes: “After a private walk with The Queen he suggested to officials that she had delicately planted, without saying so explicitly, the idea of talking to Varadkar to solve the impasse.”

The pair then met at a private country house in the Wirral in October 2019 where they spoke for more than two hours, discussing the “challenges of customs and consent”.

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When they emerged, they had managed to conclude that a deal was in “everybody’s interest”.

The two leaders had what was regarded as a successful meeting where they emerged saying that they could “see a pathway” to a possible Brexit deal.

Speaking to the BBC at the time, the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, Michael Gove, said the summit had been positive, adding: “They were cordial; they were constructive; they were open; and they say that there’s going to progress.”

Without the Queen, the biography claims, this meeting may well never have taken place.

The book also made further revelations about how The Queen gave Mr Johnson a helping hand during his time in office.

During lockdown the late Monarch let him use Buckingham Palace, which has a tennis court, as a place to work out during lockdown out of the public eye.

The Queen also granted permission for Mr Johnson — who was then recovering from Covid-19 — to use the grounds for his early morning runs after his personal protection officer restricted where he could exercise for security reasons.

Sir Anthony wrote that both Mr Johnson and his fiancée Carrie Symonds struggled with being “cooped up” in Number 10 where there was “little privacy”.

Buckingham Palace then became their occasional stomping grounds as the now Mrs Johnson would take the couple’s son Wilfred there, too.

Johnson at 10: The Inside Story, published by Atlantic Books earlier this month, is available here.

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