Boris Johnson 'Squared Up' To King Charles Over Rwanda Plan

Ex-communications chief Guto Harri claimed the former PM "went in quite hard" at the then-prince, who branded the asylum policy “appalling”.
Boris Johnson and Charles at Rwanda’s capital of Kigali at a Commonwealth summit in June.
Boris Johnson and Charles at Rwanda’s capital of Kigali at a Commonwealth summit in June.
Chris Jackson via Getty Images

Boris Johnson and King Charles had a showdown over the government’s plan to deport migrants to Rwanda – with the then-prime minister “essentially squaring up” to the monarch.

Guto Harri, who was No 10’s director of communications in the dog days of the Johnson premiership, claimed his former boss told him he “went in quite hard” on Charles, who was still Prince of Wales when the confrontation took place in June. The future king had branded the asylum policy “appalling”, it has been alleged.

Johnson disputed his long-standing ally’s account as “inaccurate”, with a source saying he “deplores” any commentary on conversations with royals.

Charles and Johnson discussed the King’s reported criticism of the scheme as they met in Rwanda’s capital of Kigali at a Commonwealth summit.

At the time, Johnson described his discussion with Charles as a “good old chinwag” that “covered a lot of ground”.

Writing in the Daily Mail, Harri says that the meeting was “less amicable” than suggested.

The former BBC journalist wrote: “‘I went in quite hard’, he told me at the time, essentially squaring up to the prince and confronting him about what he – as unelected royalty – had said about the actions of a democratically elected government.

“Prince Charles was busted. He had obviously expressed some criticism, and though he tried to play it down, Boris pointed out the obvious, (saying): ‘If you didn’t say it we both know your people could ring the newspapers and kill the story. The fact they haven’t done that says it all’.”

The UK government’s plan – unveiled in April last year – involves “offshoring” the processing of asylum seekers thousands of miles away in Rwanda.

No asylum seekers have so far been sent to Rwanda after the European Court of Human Rights blocked the first deportation flight last June.

However, the High Court ruled in December that the policy is legal.

Along with other former prime ministers, Johnson’s attended the King’s coronation at the weekend.

Harri claimed Charles and Johnson had struggled to get on for years after the politician was late for a meeting while London mayor, but that Rwanda was the final straw.

“Relations never fully recovered and Charles will be relieved that Boris had left No 10 before he ascended to the throne,” he added.

Johnson brought Harri into No 10 after a clearout of aides over the partygate scandal, bringing back his former City Hall communications adviser into his inner circle.

A source close to Johnson said: “Boris Johnson does not recognise this account and it is inaccurate. It does not accurately reflect any conversation

“We would never comment on these matters and Mr Johnson deplores any attempt to do so.”


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