Government officials spoke to Buckingham Palace about Boris Johnson’s conduct in office, according to new BBC reports.
Significant tensions that arose during the height of the pandemic led to senior civil servants raising concerns about the prime minister to Buckingham Palace during private audiences.
The revelations, which come to light in episode two of the BBC documentary series, Laura Kuenssberg: State of Chaos, suggest tensions between Johnson’s team and the Civil Service reached a critical point during the Covid-19 outbreak.
Clashes between Dominic Cummings, the former prime minister’s controversial chief of staff, and the head of the Civil Service, who subsequently left, Sir Mark Sedwill, threatened to boil over to the point that officials expressed their worries to the Palace in the hope the Queen could raise concerns in her private conversations.
It’s understood there were a number of phone calls and communications over and above routine communication between Number 10 and the Palace.
One source said the then-prime minister “had to be reminded of the constitution”.
Another source described the atmosphere in Downing Street during that period as “utterly grim, and totally crazy”, saying relationships had been “just toxic” and the links between Johnson’s team and the Civil Service “broke down”.
There had already been worries at Buckingham Palace about the prorogation of parliament in 2019, which had been technically carried out by the Queen.
That move was subsequently judged by the Supreme Court to have broken the law. A source has told the BBC that raised “acute concern”.
Speaking in the documentary, the former deputy cabinet secretary, Helen MacNamara, refused to discuss the calls to Buckingham Palace.
“There were definitely times after the prime minister came back from his illness [he contracted Covid and required hospital treatment] when the kind of the perception amongst the political team at Number 10 about the failings of the system and the failings of the Civil Service and the failings of different institutions, it was just so extreme the way that they were articulating that, they were in absolutely kind of smash everything up, shut it all down, start again… we were systematically in real trouble,” she said.