Oh dear. It seems that gabby Guto Harri has done it again. The revelations about Chris Pincher have put the No. 10 comms chief and his colleagues in No. 10 on the back foot – not least because the Tamworth MP's promotion to deputy chief whip in February came just days after Harri's own appointment. Still, the Welsh wizard hasn't exactly responded well to reports about's Pincher's alleged drunken behaviour.
First, Harri told a meeting on Friday morning that colleagues should support Pincher because he had lost his career: remarks which quickly leaked and triggered an avalanche of fury on Twitter. Later, in a wider meeting of ministerial aides – the infamous Friday night meeting of special advisors – Harri then sought to clarify these remarks. According to the Sunday Times, he 'compared Pincher to David Kelly, the weapons expert who killed himself.' This was after Kelly was exposed as the source of a BBC report that the Blair government's official dossier on weapons of mass destruction had been 'sexed up.'
The suggestion was that Pincher, like Kelly, was struggling to cope with the public scrutiny. A number of special advisers have since confirmed to Mr S that Harri did indeed make these remarks, with one adding a volley of expletives to express their astonishment at the 55-year-old comms professional's choice of language. Surveying all this, two things will trouble Boris-backers in Westminster: the impression that No. 10 has more sympathy with Pincher than his alleged victims and the speed with which damaging comments now swiftly become public.
Loose lips sink ships and few know that better than Harri. Since taking up his appointment five months ago, he's made a point of keeping up his lifeboat volunteering on the Thames with the RNLI, having suggested that his past experience in bailing out hapless swimmers might come in handy in government. Given his team's propensity for leaks and the choppy waters in which No. 10 now finds itself, Harri must just be hoping that if the ship goes down, he'll be able to find a safe way out.