British Prime Minister Boris Johnson is facing widespread condemnation after the Times newspaper reported how he attempted to give his then-mistress (now wife), Carrie Johnson, a £100k-a-year top Foreign Office job. This was during Boris Johnson’s time as Foreign Secretary between 2016 and 2018.
According to the Times newspaper, Johnson wanted to make his future wife his £100,000-a-year chief of staff until the move was thwarted by his allies. His advisers believed that the move would have been a brazen breach of ethical standards and deemed as corrupt.
Johnson was married to lawyer Marina Wheeler, his second wife of 25 years and mother to four of his children when his staff found him in a compromising position with Carrie Johnson. Johnson’s staffer came to know about his relationship with his mistress (Carrie Symonds then) after a Tory MP reportedly found him in a ‘compromising position’ in the former’s office at the start of 2018.
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A source close to the then Foreign Secretary, who was also involved in the decision to block Symond’s appointment, was quoted by the Times as saying, “It would have left (Johnson) dangerously exposed.” The source added that appointing Symonds would have been ‘a far bigger scandal’ than ex-Health Secretary Matt Hancock’s embarrassing lockdown-busting kiss with aide Gina Colangelo.
Another source was quoted by the Times, “An illicit relationship with Carrie was none of our business, making her chief of staff was definitely our business. Our job was to protect him.
“We knew what was going on between them and that it was an insane risk to him to let him do it.”
This became a topic of this week’s PMQ when Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer told Johnson mockingly, “I’m surprised he’s giving me advice about my team. If I do need advice – let’s say about a £100,000 a year job at the Foreign Office – I will ask him for a recommendation.” This was after Johnson highlighted how some Labour MPs had visited the rail strike picket lines in solidarity.
Labour MP Chris Elmore asked Johnson, “Has he ever considered the appointment of his current spouse to a government post or to any organisation in the working of the royal households? Be honest, prime minister, yes or no?”
Johnson did not deny the allegation as he said, “I know why the party opposite wants to talk about nonexistent jobs, in the media. Because they don’t want to talk about what is going on in the real world.”
Johnson split with his ex-wife Wheeler in September 2018.
As for Symonds, she has been associated with the Tory party for more than 10 years. She first came in contact with Johnson in 2010 when she joined the Conservative party as a press officer in 2009. She went on to campaign for Johnson in the 2010 and 2012 London mayoral elections. She was later promoted to the post of Head of Communications for the Conservative Party at the age of 29.