No.10's 'Exciting' WhatsApp Announcement Backfires Before It's Even Announced

Downing Street really opened itself up to ridicule here.
Prime Minister Rishi Sunak
Prime Minister Rishi Sunak
via Associated Press

No.10 Downing Street’s official account on X posted about “something exciting” to do with WhatsApp coming soon – and it was brutally mocked within minutes.

Writing on the social media platform formerly known as Twitter, the prime minister’s formal account invited others to “stay tuned” for the upcoming announcement...

Unfortunately, that did not quite work in its favour, considering the Conservative government’s recent history with WhatsApp.

Boris Johnson, the PM at the height of the Covid pandemic, faced intense backlash last year after it emerged a “technical issue” meant his WhatsApps from before May 2021 had all gone missing.

As WhatsApp is a key method of communication for senior government officials, the missing messages presented a significant problem to the public Covid inquiry.

And that palaver came after current PM Rishi Sunak’s government tried to block Johnson from releasing all of his messages without having them redacted first.

Even when it was Sunak’s turn to be scrutinised in front of the inquiry, he turned out he had a problem accessing his old WhatsApp messages, too.

He claimed that he had changed phones since his days as the Johnson’s chancellor, and so he was not able to “access” WhatsApps sent during the pandemic.

The prime minister told the inquiry: “I’m not a prolific user of WhatsApp in the first instance, primarily communications with my private office, and obviously anything that was of significance through those conversations or exchanges has been recorded officially by my civil servants as one would expect.”

Meanwhile, WhatsApps provided by other government officials offered some shocking insight into the chaos surrounding Downing Street in 2020 and 2021.

It’s easy to see why X users were so quick to respond with their own jokes and speculation after Downing Street’s post about WhatsApp today.

Even when Downing Street revealed the real news around half an hour later in a subsequent post – just that it’s now possible to get government updates on WhatsApp channels – the jokes did not stop.


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