Carrie Johnson was in the front row in front of 10 Downing Street with her little daughter Romy in her arms to accompany her husband, Boris Johnson, towards the sunset of his political career. Carrie was seen outside Number 10, showing their daughter Romy’s face for the first time.
In BoJo’s three years as PM, alongside him, the first lady has been a reference figure for Boris, to whom she has given two children (a boy and a girl), but also a catalyst for controversies and internal conflicts over interference in certain decisions important of the premier such as those on his closest collaborators and the involvement in some scandals that resulted fatal for the Tory leader, first of all, the Partygate.
From the outside, they have always appeared as a very close couple.
The first unmarried to live together on Downing Street until May 2021, when they are married. Twenty-four years younger than BoJo, Carrie (Symonds is her maiden name) is a communications expert who entered the world of politics from a very young age, right after graduation. And she relied on her experience over the years as a first lady.
Former Downing Street councillors said she would have the final say on who to hire and even who to turn away. As for Dominic Cummings ‘ exit in November 2020, former éminence grise of the Johnsonian entourage, the two had entered into a direct confrontation. The former prime minister’s right-hand man had blamed her for distracting Boris from the pandemic by “losing his mind” to “trivial” stories in the newspapers about their dog.
Not only that, for Cummings, the first lady had tried to get her friends to hire, and she would have been behind her kicking her out of # 10.
Carrie was also fined along with Boris for her husband’s surprise birthday party in Downing Street during the lockdown in June 2020. As part of the Partygate scandal, she was accused of being present at other events that ended in an accusation of violating anti-Covid restrictions.
Johnson’s image and credibility have suffered heavy repercussions in this and other events, complete with investigations launched against him, such as the expensive renovation of the Downing Street apartment (at number 11, more spacious than the official residence of the number 10) where BoJo lives with Carrie and children. His wife would have opted for luxurious finishes and furnishings, such as costly rattan furniture.
Finally, there was talk of intervention by Carrie, an environmentalist and animal lover, in another story in which Johnson was accused of having personally authorized the support by the British forces for the evacuation of cates and dogs from Afghanistan – promoted by an animal rights association led by a former Royal Marine – during the hasty flight from Kabul due to the arrival of the Taliban last August.
The Daily Mail reports that BoJo wants to cling to power for ‘one last party for his wife.’ BoJo wants to host a belated wedding party at the cost of state exchequers’ later this July; sources told the paper. The couple married during the COVID restrictions and the Catholic ceremony at Westminster Cathedral in May last year was too simple.
BoJo and Carrie have reportedly planned a belated wedding bash at the grace-and-favour country home. The property is held by the Queen and is usually rent-free for former government servants. Grace-and-favour country home and such properties are within the ‘gift of the PM’.
Carrie, not so popular
Unlike BoJo, Carrie is a known but not a popular figure at all. Users of social media are enquiring about the fate of the £840 A Roll Lulu Lytle Wallpaper that now decorates the family flat at 11 Downing Street with the help of the interior designer Lulu Lytle in 2021. The ‘Gold Wallpaper’ is allegedly plastered all over the walls of Downing Street. The Evening Standard newspaper estimates that adding wallpaper to the entire 11 Downing Street flat would have cost upward of £14,000.
The wallpapermay not be actually made of gold, Lulu has an ‘old gold’ and a ‘yellow gold’ print in her collection.
The renovations were the subject of a blog post by BoJo’s former political strategist Dominic Cummings. He wrote that BoJo was concerned about the increasing costs of the refurbishments and tried to get Tory donors to pay for it. He looked at setting up a trust to cover the cost of refurbishments before apparently covering the cost of the work himself. The whole issue led to an investigation by the British Electoral commission.