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Anthony Scaramucci was appointed communications director for President Trump in July 2017. The colourful character, branded the Mooch, quickly became a social media sensation. He survived just ten days in post.

Westminster is wondering whether Guto Harri will beat that record following his appointment by Boris Johnson over the weekend. He is among the key appointments to the PM’s new-look inner circle, hired to handle comms in the hope Johnson can survive as Tory leader.

Mild-mannered Steve Barclay is the new chief of staff tasked with restoring order, although he’ll also have to fit in being a minister in the Cabinet Office and an MP. Considering the state of the Johnson premiership, the chief of staff posting is no easy task. One admirer asks: “Why has Steve accepted this job?” Another says it makes no sense because Barclay is intelligent: “Is it a hostage situation?”

But it’s Harri who has made the most noise since his appointment as Director of Communications. On day one in post he gave an interview to the Welsh language news website Golwg360 in which he described starting the new job in interesting terms.

“I walked in and I made a salute and said ‘Prime Minister, Guto Harri reporting for duty’ and he stood up from back to his desk and started taking the salute but then he said ‘What am I doing, I should take the knee for you.’ And we were both laughing. Then I asked ‘Are you going to survive Boris?’ And he said it in his deep voice, slowly and purposefully and started singing a little while finishing the sentence and saying ‘I Will Survive’. Inevitably he invited me to say ‘You’ve got all your life to live’ and he replied, ‘I’ve got all my love to give’, so we had a little blast of Gloria Gaynor!”

Harri added that Boris Johnson is not all clown, which is reassuring.

“He’s not all clown, but he’s a character who loves it… 90 per cent of our discussion was very serious but it shows that it is a character and that there is fun to be had. He’s not a vicious man as some misrepresent him.”
This free-styling spin-doctor stuff is not quite what nervous Tory MPs were expecting when they suggested an overhaul of Number 10 communications. His predecessor Jack Doyle was low key, and respected by hacks despite the activities of his boss. Spin-doctors usually try to avoid becoming the story straight away, or they don’t survive long in post.

The author Ian Leslie has already hailed Harri as the new Scaramucci. A former colleague describes Guto H as a “celebrity figure”, someone who loves to be noticed: “There’ll be a book in this.”

Harri is no fool though. It may be that he is doing this deliberately, drawing fire from his new boss. He certainly has great insight into the Johnson personality, built on a longstanding relationship with Johnson. He worked for him when he was Mayor of London. Harri has criticised Johnson since then. In a 2018 episode of the BBC’s Week in Westminster, Harri said his old colleague would be “hugely divisive” in Downing Street. But Harri has made more recent criticism of Johnson. A fortnight ago, Harri told the BBC’s Newscast podcast his boss’s integrity was “hard to judge”.

Dominic Cummings, the former guru to Boris now pursuing a “holy war” to remove the PM from office, has been mocked by Harri. Cummings has repaid the compliment by branding the comms man Huawei Hari (or Harri). Guto’s most recent job was at Hawthorn Advisors, co-founded by Conservative party co-chairman Ben Elliot, where it is reported he lobbied on behalf of Huawei, the technology company banned from building Britain’s first 5G network because of its links to the Chinese Communist Party. 
Last summer, Harri left GB News after taking the knee on air in support of the England football team. He opposes Brexit and was an Oxford contemporary of the Prime Minister, where he studied PPE. Away from the limelight he enjoys rowing, sailing, fishing and cooking.