Senior government officials expressed concern about Boris Johnson’s behaviour during the pandemic with Buckingham Palace, it has been claimed.
Staff apparently discussed asking the late Queen to raise these concerns with Mr Johnson during their private audiences.
A new documentary, Laura Kuenssberg: State of Chaos, details significant tension between Mr Johnson’s political team and the Civil Service. They 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 even discussed fears with Buckingham Palace about the former prime minister’s conduct in government.
One said the then-prime minister “had to be reminded of the constitution”, the BBC reported.
Others confirmed there were a series of phone calls and communications between Downing Street and Buckingham Palace which went beyond what was normal.
And one described the atmosphere in No10 during that period as “utterly grim, and totally crazy”, saying relationships had been “just toxic” and the links between Mr Johnson’s team and the Civil Service “broke down”.
There were already concerns in the Palace about Mr Johnson’s decision in 2019 to prorogue parliament, ruled illegal by the Supreme Court.
Former cabinet secretary Helen MacNamara told the documentary: “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 smash everything up, shut it all down, start again… we were systematically in real trouble.”
Mr Johnson was forced out of Downing Street in part because of his response to the pandemic, during which he was fined for breaking his own lockdown rules.
The revelation comes a week after former Tory 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, a junior health minister from March 2020 to September 2021, said Downing Street “did not want to prioritise the pandemic” when it first emerged, “even though the evidence was mounting” of the threat.