BORIS Johnson would jokingly bend over when aides prepared to take his temperature, the ex-adviser lumbered with the awkward task has revealed.
Cleo Watson said working for the PM in No10 at times was more like being his “nanny” than a serious political operative.
Cleo Watson says her job in No10 was sometimes more like being a nanny
The deputy Downing St chief of staff from 2019-20 told all on her whirlwind time at the heart of government in the latest edition of society mag Tatler.
Lifting the lid on what it was like during Covid, she said: “My role at No 10 sounds fancy, but a lot of the time I was much closer to being Boris’s nanny.
“At the start of the pandemic, testing was limited so, like everyone else, the PM regularly had his temperature taken to check for symptoms.
“This was generally done by me, towering over him (with or without heels – I generally found it useful to be physically intimidating in the role of nanny), one hand on a hip, teapot-style, and the other brandishing an oral digital thermometer.
“‘It’s that time again, Prime Minister!’ I’d say. Each time, never willing to miss a good slapstick opportunity, he dutifully feigned bending over.”
Ms Watson, nicknamed the “Gazelle” for always appearing immaculately beside her scruffy boss Dominic Cummings, also described the No10 team’s attempts to “house-train” the PM when isolating.
She says that when the PM would keep wandering out of his office where he was quarantining to check up on other staff.
Ms Watson said that “this required setting up chairs as barriers in the doorway”.
She added: “He couldn’t resist stepping over the threshold into our adjoining room to peer over shoulders at what people were working on (invariably in a pair of someone else’s reading glasses he’d found lying around).
“So the prime ministerial ‘puppy gate’ was created. He’d kneel on the seats, his elbows propped over the top, like a great unruly golden retriever, howling for attention.”
Ms Watson was eventually sacked shortly after Mr Cummings departed in December 2020 after losing a power struggle with Carrie Johnson.
She was a close ally of the maverick No10 chief after he hired her to be his right-hand woman.
Ms Watson said her loyalty to Mr Cummings ultimately cost her her job when he and Boris fell out.
She said he compared her to keeping an “ugly old lamp” after a divorce that “reminds me of the person I was with”.