Boris Johnson allegedly “hid in his bedroom” to avoid questions on Brexit days before he was set to become prime minister in July 2019.
Former Tory adviser Peter Cardwell claimed in his new book The Secret Life of Special Advisers that Johnson and his team ran upstairs to his bedroom to escape questions from Iain Duncan Smith (IDS).
The book, released on Wednesday, looks at the prime minister’s turbulent relationship with backbench MPs, including the former chair of his leadership campaign, IDS.
Cardwell was sacked in February but had spent years in close contact with a number of cabinet ministers.
His book recounts the “farcical scene” in the days before Johnson took over from his predecessor Theresa May.
IDS had been brought into by Johnson to help convince other Tory MPs about his stance on Brexit.
“IDS attempted to ring him several times to suggest they have a strategy discussion at the campaign’s headquarters at the home of Andrew Griffith, a Sky executive who later worked in Downing Street and became an MP in December 2019,” Cardwell describes in the book.
However, Johnson “ignored both calls and texts until finally IDS texted to say he was on his way round”.
The book continues: “With IDS en route, Boris quickly ordered his entire team to race up the stairs to the first floor of the house and, well, hide from their alleged campaign chairman as he rapped on the door of the building, demanding to be let in.
“Eventually, IDS gave up knocking on the door and ringing the bell, and the Johnson team gingerly made their way downstairs again to their makeshift offices to resume their work.”
A senior Tory Party source told The Sun the event was “work of fiction” while others allegedly present have disputed the claim.
Cardwell told the paper: “That’s what we in the trade would describe as not a denial”.
IDS reportedly declined to comment when approached.