Working in No10 was ‘like being Boris Johnson’s nanny’ says Dominic Cummings ally Cleo Watson

‘It was like being Boris Johnson’s nanny’: Ex-No10 aide (and Dominic Cummings ally) Cleo Watson reveals PM had to be barricaded into his office with a ‘puppy gate’ while in Covid isolation

  • Aide who worked in Downing Street from 2019 to 2020, painted an excoriating picture of life inside No10
  • Told Tatler staff had to barricade the Prime Minister inside his office with a ‘puppy gate’ when he was isolating
  • Said he also had dubious attitude to handwashing and acted like a schoolboy when she checked temperature 
  • Told mag: ‘My role at No 10 sounds fancy, but a lot of the time I was much closer to being Boris’s nanny’

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One of Boris Johnson‘s former aides has launched an astonishing attack on his behaviour during the Covid pandemic, revealing that she often felt like a nanny looking after a small child.

Cleo Watson, who worked in Downing Street from 2019 to 2020, painted an excoriating picture of life inside No10.

Writing for society magazine Tatler she claims staff had to barricade the Prime Minister inside his office with a ‘puppy gate’ to prevent him leaving while isolating.

He also had a dubious attitude to handwashing and acted like a schoolboy when she checked his temperature as a warning he might have the virus.

A veteran of Vote Leave, Ms Watson was brought into No10 by Dominic Cummings, his former consigliere turned arch critic, and left shortly after him in November 2020.

She was regularly pictured accompanying him into Downing Street in pictures that earned her the nickname ‘the gazelle’.

In her article Ms Watson 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.’

Cleo Watson, who worked in Downing Street from 2019 to 2021, painted an excoriating picture of life inside No10.

Cleo Watson, who worked in Downing Street from 2019 to 2021, painted an excoriating picture of life inside No10.

Cleo Watson

Cleo Watson

Writing for society magazine Tatler she claims staff had to barricade the Prime Minister inside his office with a ‘puppy gate’ to prevent him leaving while isolating.

In her article Ms Watson said: 'My role at No 10 sounds fancy, but a lot of the time I was much closer to being Boris's nanny.

In her article Ms Watson said: ‘My role at No 10 sounds fancy, but a lot of the time I was much closer to being Boris’s nanny.

A veteran of Vote Leave, she was brought into No10 by Dominic Cummings, his former consigliere turned arch critic, and left shortly after him in November 2020

A veteran of Vote Leave, she was brought into No10 by Dominic Cummings, his former consigliere turned arch critic, and left shortly after him in November 2020

She added: ‘The PM himself was subject to a fair amount of house-training. Like many, he was ”pinged” a couple of times and insisted on working from his downstairs office while isolating.

‘Very soon, this required setting up chairs as barriers in the doorway, as 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.’

An a further attack on the Prime Minister’s maturity, she went on to describe his anger during the early days of Covid.

‘[There was] constant questioning about whether or not he’d washed his hands (‘What do you mean by ‘recently’?’), the hand-wringing about his hair, which made him look even more like one of those troll toys from the ’80s at the daily televised press conferences, and the frequent scolding about making gags such as ‘Kung-Flu’ and ‘Aye! Corona!’, characterised much of the pre-terrifying- brush-with-death era in the nursery,’ she said.

‘I alternated between stern finger-wagging and soothing words in response to his regular ”I hate Covid now. I want everything to go back to normal. Why does everything happen to meeeeeee?” temper tantrums.’ 

Ms Watson is due to release a book about salacious goings-on in Westminster. Erotic political thriller Whips! is due to be released next May. It has been described as a cross between House Of Cards and 50 Shades Of Grey –  with characters said to be based on real-life political figures.

Although the 32-year-old's official title was head of of the PM's Priorities and Campaigns, she was known as the 'the Cummings whisperer' due to her reputed ability to calm him down.

The pair were regularly seen walking into Downing Street together in the mornings, with Ms Watson's smart appearance in stark contrast to Mr Cummings' shambolic style.

Although the 32-year-old’s official title was head of of the PM’s Priorities and Campaigns, she was known as the ‘the Cummings whisperer’ due to her reputed ability to calm him down.

Ms Watson worked on the Brexit campaign before joining the No10 operation under Theresa May, and taking a more senior role when Mr Johnson became PM.

Although the 32-year-old’s official title was head of of the PM’s Priorities and Campaigns, she was known as the ‘the Cummings whisperer’ due to her reputed ability to calm him down.

The pair were regularly seen walking into Downing Street together in the mornings, with Ms Watson’s smart appearance in stark contrast to Mr Cummings’ shambolic style.

There had been hopes that she would opt to stay on in her post after he was ousted in a power battle with Carrie Johnson. She was not regarded as being deeply involved in the extraordinary civil war.

But she revealed today how Mr Johnson forced her out. 

 ‘The end for me came in November 2020, about two weeks after Dom’s hurried departure. The PM had been isolating after his latest ”ping” and he and I finally reunited in the Cabinet room, where we had an exchange that I am sure may have been familiar to many of his girlfriends,’ she said.

‘He said a lot of things, the most succinct being: ”I can’t look at you any more because it reminds me of Dom. It’s like a marriage has ended, we’ve divided up our things and I’ve kept an ugly old lamp. But every time I look at that lamp, it reminds me of the person I was with. You’re that lamp.”  

‘A lamp! Still, he presumably knows better than most how it feels when a marriage breaks up.’

Downing Street has been approached to comment.

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