Carrie johnson

Carrie Johnson and the truth about children’s parties

The email was apologetic in its tone, if apocalyptic in its content. The entertainer I’d booked for my daughter’s fifth birthday party was no longer available – she’d been invited to perform as an extra on Strictly Come Dancing, an opportunity too good to miss. I swallowed my surprise (aren’t these appearances negotiated months in advance?) but couldn’t quell the mounting panic that anyone who has struggled to source a children’s entertainer at short notice without remortgaging their house will recognise.  With no expert in charge, a kids’ party is simply a mass socially-sanctioned sugar-fuelled breakdown – and that’s just for the parents. Even with an expert’s help (I eventually

My revealing phone call from Ben Wallace

My phone buzzed and rang while I was doing the horses until I thought, fine, I’ll call the Defence Secretary back. I sat down on a picnic chair by the muck heap and dialled. He was extremely courteous. He just wanted to point out that he really didn’t want to be Prime Minister. The profile I had written of him was very good, he said, but the one thing he wanted to put me straight on was, well, the whole premise of the article. He didn’t want the top job, no matter what I had heard. I told him my sources were impeccable. He didn’t need to be so modest.

Letters: Why do we bully PMs’ wives?

Strong leaders Sir: Freddy Gray states that ‘voters seemed most enthusiastic about the leaders who removed their liberties’ (‘Leaderless’, 18 June). I believe people just like to see their government take strong measures. People like to see the effect of a government policy straight away, especially in a crisis. This is probably the reason so many Americans like the idea of Trump’s wall. It is an immediate and physical solution to a large problem that can be seen and felt, even if it is not necessarily the best solution. If the government, for example, came up with a policy that said all those on jobseekers’ allowance must do at least

Carry on Carrie: Day IV

It’s a tribute to the geniuses within Downing Street that they’ve managed to take a three-month-old story about a four-year-old incident and make it one of the most-discussed issues in British politics. The story is, of course, a report by the Times that Boris Johnson tried to appoint his then-lover Carrie Symonds as his chief-of-staff at the Foreign Office in 2018. It follows up similar claims made by Lord Ashcroft in his biography of the PM’s wife. The story was mysteriously removed from later editions of the the Times newspaper on Saturday, as well as being absent from its website. Following an intense backlash, No. 10 yesterday said in a

Is there a Carrie ‘cover-up?’

It’s another good day not to be in Downing Street. Spinners there will be bracing themselves for questions today about the curious case of a story about Carrie Johnson which featured in Saturday’s edition of the Times. The report – by veteran scoop-getter Simon Walters – claimed that Boris Johnson tried to make his then-mistress his £100,000-a-year chief of staff at the Foreign Office in 2018. It featured on page five of the paper’s first edition but was pulled from subsequent ones; the story was also published on Mail Online but removed shortly afterwards. It’s not the first time No. 10 has been accused of trying to kill stories that

Restaurant pranksters target Boris and Carrie

It’s been a tough time for Boris and Carrie recently, so what better else than a night on the town? The Prime Minister has grown used to living off a diet of humble pie, so why not make a change and try some fine cuisine instead? For one of Steerpike’s spies spotted on Thursday that the guest book of the much-loved India Club in Covent Garden had a new and intriguing message. The restaurant itself has a rich political history, boasting Lady Mountbatten and Prime Minister Nehru among its founding members some 50 years ago. But now, dotted amongst the various bits of feedback in its records is a heart-adorned missive from one Carrie Johnson. It

The Zac Pack: the well-connected group quietly shaping Tory policy

Who let the dogs out? That’s the subject of a Whitehall probe into the recent Afghanistan debacle. When the Taliban took Kabul, an estimated 1,200 people who qualified for evacuation to the UK had to be left behind. But on 28 August, waiting Afghan families were left helpless on the ground as 173 cats and dogs were escorted past them into the airport and off to safety. The big question: on whose authority were animals put ahead of humans? And did any of this have the Prime Minister’s backing? As ever with Johnsonian drama, the truth is elusive, but one minister seems closer to it than others. A parliamentary investigation

Party-planners troll No. 10

Westminster’s finest are gathering today ahead of Boris Johnson’s much-awaited appearance at Prime Ministers’ Questions. The embattled premier is expected to be grilled shortly in the Commons about the garden party which took place in No. 10 in May 2020, following a morning media round blackout by the government in recent days. Yet while the House should be full today, government whips should not expect many of those on the Tory benches to be there in support. Some tell Mr S they are just there to watch the blood sport, putting in prayer cards to witness the unfolding drama in Parliament. Far more telling than the attendance rate is the number of Tories willing to put

The PowerPoint plot against Joe Biden

If the revolution won’t be televised, the counter-revolution will at least be on PowerPoint. A series of 36 corporate-style PowerPoint slides have now been handed over to the Congressional Committee investigating the 6 January insurrection. Written and conceived by a retired colonel (who else?), the PowerPoint lays out a clear, if bonkers, strategy for keeping Donald Trump in power earlier this year. It involves the assertion that China had directly intervened in the election, skewing the electronic results to favour Joe Biden. Quite where the evidence would be procured to prove this is not so clear. But the plan barrels past that small problem to the main event: ‘1. Brief

Did No. 10 threaten to sue the New European?

Is Downing Street planning to sue for a story suggesting that Boris Johnson has ‘buyers’ remorse’ over his marriage? That’s the question asked at today’s lobby meeting after the New European ran a story alleging that the Prime Minister had said this at a Telegraph leader writers’ reunion at the Garrick Club. The original story met with an on the record denial from the press office — stating that Johnson ‘did not make this remark and the allegation is untrue and defamatory’. This denial did not appear in the story, to Downing Street’s fury. The New European’s editor-in-chief Matt Kelly claims that behind the scenes, No. 10 went further. He alleges

Boris Johnson’s dangerous eco-obsession

It is a notable feather in Nigel Farage’s cap that his new evening show on GB News has already become essential viewing for Tory high-ups. Last week brought a series of reports by well-connected commentators suggesting that Boris Johnson was worried about Farage highlighting the government’s chaotic failure to stem the cross-Channel flow of migrant boats. The issue has suddenly shot up the list of issues mentioned by Tory voters, with new polling from Redfield & Wilton Strategies now identifying immigration as their top concern. This week the former Ukip leader has touched another nerve with some Tory MPs by wondering aloud whether their party’s green obsession is reaching a

The Prince Harryfication of Boris Johnson

The acting one sees upon the stage doesn’t show how human beings actually comport themselves in crises, but simply how actors think they ought to. It is the same with politicians, but they are not actors, only a sort of reductio ad absurdum of a thespian. Their profession bears the same relation to proper acting (so-called) as that of a card sharp or a divorce lawyer bears to poetry. Take Michael Gove, whom I have known since I was 21, and Matt Hancock, whom (I thank God fasting) I don’t know at all. Were this a play, Hancock would not have left his wife and three children for a well-known