MANDRAKE: Johnson’s ring of steel is unprecedented for a serving prime minister
PUBLISHED: 13:00 25 July 2019
Johnson’s personal protection team is the biggest yet, says TIM WALKER, with civil unrest expected if the new prime minister goes through with a no-deal Brexit
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In what appears to be a tacit admission of his unpopularity, Boris Johnson has agreed with the parliamentary and diplomatic protection team - a division of the Metropolitan Police - security arrangements that are unprecedented for a serving British prime minister.
"Expect a very visible security presence for every public engagement and expect these to take place only in tightly-controlled environments," whispers my man in Whitehall. "There'll not be the kind of engagement between the prime minister and general public that has been the custom in the past."
Johnson, pictured, was reported to have been "visibly shaken" after a preliminary briefing by civil servants when he was told to expect civil unrest if he goes through with a no-deal Brexit.
Downing Street declines to comment on security arrangements, but it is known that UK special forces have in the past worked in tandem with the PM's protection team.
The cost to the taxpayer of security for serving and former prime ministers is not disclosable under the Freedom of information Act, but salaries of £100,000 a year are not uncommon among the officers on the PM's security team when overtime is factored in.
The speculation about how and when Boris Johnson leaves Downing Street began well before he had arrived. Sir John Curtice, the psephologist from the University of Strathclyde, has already predicted that Johnson could well be Britain's shortest-serving prime minister if he doesn't find a way to "row back" on his "do or die" stance on leaving the EU.
Taxpayers should be warned that Johnson's departures, even when they come at his own behest, don't come cheap. Figures just released by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office show that when he quit as foreign secretary last year, he managed to secure £16,876 in redundancy pay. Two of his SPADs picked up £48,000 each in severance pay, too.
The total cost of Johnson's inglorious two-year stint at the Foreign Office was £1.1 million. On top of the payoffs, this takes in £837,746 in rent for his grace-and-favour apartment in Carlton House Terrace and £168,282 in pay and pension payments to him from the FCO.
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I might add Johnson's reluctance to leave Carlton House Terrace - which the FCO leases from the Crown Estate - set the taxpayer back £23,713 in extra rent.
The lavish party that the Daily Telegraph owners Sir David and Sir Frederick Barclay threw at the Ritz to celebrate the EU referendum result was deemed to be a public relations disaster. The photographs that appeared of the rich and exuberant guests leaving scarcely fitted in with the notion that Brexit was about empowering the poor and dispossessed.
Mandrake hears the brothers don't intend a celebration on such a scale for Boris Johnson, but they are, needless to say, thrilled that a man they have invested in so heavily over the years - he was paid £270,000 a year to write for their newspaper - has finally paid off. "There'll be a private celebration dinner for him and a few discreet friends," I am told. "But don't expect any of them to post selfies on social media."
One trusts the Barclays will be ordering in extra cases of vintage Tignanello - Johnson's favourite wine from Italy - which retails at £180 a bottle.
Mandrake has cast the net wide in attempting to catch the "national newspaper editor" who gave Boris Johnson the notorious kipper that he brought with him to the last of the Tory leadership hustings.
The individual encouraged Johnson to assert it was EU red tape that meant all kippers had to be dispatched from these shores with "plastic ice pillows". The EU was in no mood for Johnson to come the raw prawn with them: they swiftly pointed out that was a UK - and not an EU - regulation.
I thought I'd caught Tony Gallagher, the editor of the Sun and Johnson's sometime jogging partner, pictured, hook, line and sinker, but I had to chuck him back after it turned out he was swimming in US waters at the relevant time.
Other editors have yet to rise to my bait, but rest assured I've no intention of letting the man - or woman - behind Jack the Kipper off the hook.
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