Boris Johnson has argued with Britain's top mandarin after insisting on making top-secret political decisions over WhatsApp.
Cabinet Secretary Simon Case intervened after he was concerned that some texts from the Prime Minister's official report on the intelligence service appeared to have been sent by someone other than himself.
In a separate development, Mr. Johnson's partner, Carrie Symonds, is said to have been heard when she "challenged" him on confidential phone calls to ministers and officials in the background.
The Prime Minister has argued with the UK's highest mandarin after insisting on making top-secret political decisions over WhatsApp. Some claimed that his partner Carrie Symonds (pictured together) "overheard" him on confidential phone calls to ministers and ministers in the background
The extraordinary WhatsApp dispute follows a move by Mr Johnson earlier this month to expand a secret Downing Street WhatsApp group's use of routine messaging to include sensitive government matters.
This includes strictly confidential political decisions and instructions to other cabinet ministers and mandarins.
In the past, such matters were handled through traditional printed papers in the Prime Minister's Whitehall Red Box, which were returned, signed by him, by hand.
Mr Case raised concerns about Mr Johnson's new practice, which an official has referred to as the "government of WhatsApp".
Officials said the style of some of the textual responses was markedly different from that of the prime minister. But he refused to go back to the old method.
Mr. Johnson, Mr. Case, and Mr. Johnson's Principal Private Secretary Martin Reynolds are among a handful of senior figures in the No. 10 Private Office WhatsApp group.
Until recently, it was mainly used for routine messages, mostly related to the Prime Minister's diary.
But three weeks ago he asked to use it more.
The extraordinary WhatsApp dispute follows a move by Mr Johnson earlier this month to expand a secret Downing Street WhatsApp group's use of routine messaging to include sensitive government matters
He asked that box submissions, formal matters that require approval and are usually included in his red box, be sent over WhatsApp.
However, officials were concerned about the nature of some of the textual responses.
"The PM has a distinctive style: colorful, expressive, polite with irregular intervals," said one. "But some answers were shorter and sharper and didn't look or sound like him.
“Paper documents have been shown to be safe for decades. Unlike text, you can see the prime minister's handwritten notes in the margin and in the signature. “Mr Case reportedly raised the issue with Mr Reynolds, who said the Prime Minister would not drop the WhatsApp move.
A source added further concerns: “Previously, the private office's WhatsApp was used for diary tasks to remind him that he had received a call to a foreign guide within 20 minutes. Now important decisions are sent in a "WhatsApp" summary. It's not the same as getting full details on a document in its red box. And not so sure. "
Mr Johnson is a member of several WhatsApp groups ranging from policy forums to briefings for Conservative MPs.
It is common for Prime Ministers and Ministers to be given red leather briefcases called red boxes filled with official documents on evenings and weekends. Officials are encouraging Mr. Johnson to work on his Red Box while he is still working on Study # 10.
Officials said the style of some of the textual responses was markedly different from that of the prime minister. But he refused to go back to the old method. Pictured: Boris Johnson and his partner Carrie Symonds earlier this month on Remembrance Sunday
"He is encouraged to do this in his free time between meetings in the office," said one official. "It means he has to take less to the apartment or checkers."
Claims that officials are no longer putting some top secret papers – "Strap 3" in Whitehall jargon – in the Prime Minister's red box are denied by No. 10.
The mail was told that when ministers and officials talk to Mr Johnson on the phone, they sometimes hear Miss Symonds in the background.
“You can hear her prompt and say, 'Tell him or her to do this or that,” he said. “It's often about her favorite subjects, like the environment – or who she thinks loyal to him or not. "A PM's partner has the right to express an opinion.
"But if they listen and contribute, when the Prime Minister speaks to the ministers in confidence, it would be worrying."
Miss Symonds regularly hosts soirees at the Downing Street apartment and weekend get-togethers at Checkers for her network of friends, mostly Tory policy advisors and select journalists.
Mr. Johnson is present at some, but not all, of these meetings.
It comes after the Mail revealed how Mr Johnson blocked a plan to promote Rep. Richard Holden of North West Durham Tory, two years after Miss Symonds testified against him in a trial in which he was freed from sexual assault against another woman .
Mr. Case, Downing Street and the Cabinet declined to comment.
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