Carrie symonds

Portrait of the week: Boris Johnson’s wedding, bitcoin blackouts and a £140m tomato ketchup factory

Home Freelance scientists urged the government not to end coronavirus regulations on 21 June, for fear of a third wave. Fewer than 900 people remained in hospital with Covid, compared with 39,249 in January. Chris Hopson, the head of NHS Providers, said ‘very, very few’ Covid patients in hospital had received two coronavirus vaccinations, and usually had additional conditions. Heathrow got round to using a separate terminal for passengers arriving from countries with a high risk of Covid. The government considered compulsory Covid vaccination for NHS staff. The Johnson & Johnson single-dose vaccine was approved for use. By the start of the week, 47.3 per cent of the adult population

Boris’s media critics are missing the real story

The five most frustrating words a journalist can hear are: ‘This is not a story’. Over the years, I have heard that warding charm invoked by press officers governmental and party, private sector and charitable. Every time, it guaranteed I would work doubly hard to ensure the story in question made it into print. Political journalists, in particular, are thrawn by nature and cynical through experience. They begin from the assumption that you did it, everyone around you knows you did it, half of them are doing it too, and if they keep at you long enough you’ll eventually end up reading a prepared statement outside your front door one

The curious incident of Dilyn the dog in the Times

In one of the more surreal moments of Dominic Cummings’s testimony to MPs yesterday, the former No. 10 advisor suggested that Carrie Symonds and Dilyn the dog might be to blame for the UK’s sluggish coronavirus response. Cummings told MPs that on a key day in mid-March, as the government began to consider locking down, No. 10 were first of all derailed by a Donald Trump plan to carpet-bomb the Middle East, and were then sent into a tailspin by a story in the Times about Dilyn the dog – Boris and Carrie’s resident pooch. According to Cummings: ‘It sounds so surreal it couldn’t possibly be true – that day

Zac Goldsmith, No. 10’s rapid rebuttal service

It’s a tough gig defending this government. So tough in fact that the Prime Minister’s official spokesperson Allegra Stratton left the role before even giving a single press conference. The past week is a case in point – with No. 10 facing miserable headlines over the ongoing feud between Johnson, his fiancée Carrie Symonds and departed No. 10 aide Dominic Cummings.  Johnson has had to deny making a ‘bodies’ comment on Covid deaths while several inquiries are now underway as to how the funding for the refurbishment of the Downing Street flat first came about. Perhaps it’s little wonder then that these days ministers don’t seem overjoyed to be out

Patrick O'Flynn

Carry on Boris: why Starmer’s ‘sleaze’ barbs won’t harm the PM

Rather like Lord Farquaad, the vertically-challenged establishment choice for Princess Fiona’s hand in marriage in the movie Shrek, Keir Starmer was on his high horse this week. The Labour leader manoeuvred Boris Johnson into making a Commons despatch box denial of ever having used a phrase about letting the bodies pile high rather than imposing a third lockdown. He then followed it up by quoting from the ministerial code: ‘Ministers who knowingly mislead Parliament will be expected to offer their resignation.’ Starmer said he would let things rest there for now, but predicted much more would come out on the matter. His implication was clear – he expects the Prime Minister to

Dilyn the dog’s Downing Street diary (as told to Rod Liddle)

I heard them rowing again this morning, look you. I had just completed my first dump of the day in Allegra Stratton’s handbag when I heard their voices spiralling upwards, the Man and the Woman. They’re not in a good place right now, which is fine by me. A plague on both their houses. Mimsy, woke Carrie, who purchased me under the mistaken impression I was a Peke who would lie gently across her bloody lap all day. And that shambling albino wreck, kind of half-dog half-man, who apparently runs the country, when his wife lets him. Money seemed to be at the heart of their disagreement — it often

Douglas Murray

Carrie Symonds and the First Girlfriend problem

One of the least attractive aspects of American politics is epitomised in the ‘Office of the First Lady’. The office in the East Wing of the White House has grown under consecutive presidents and, depending on the incumbent’s ambitions, can include policy and legislative initiatives. All emanate from a person solely in place because some years earlier they were lucky enough — or otherwise — to marry a person who became president. It all makes America less like a democracy, more like a court, with the inevitable overspill of ‘First Children’ and more. By convention this country has been spared that problem. Prime-ministerial spouses can be strong figures in their

Electoral Commission launches probe into Boris’s flat refurbishment

The row over the refurbishment of Boris Johnson’s Downing Street flat has stepped up a gear this morning after the Electoral Commission launched a formal investigation. Following initial enquiries to determine who originally paid £58,000 towards the cost of the lavish refurbishment of the Prime Minister and his fiancée Carrie Symonds’s flat, the commission has concluded there are ‘reasonable grounds to suspect that an offence or offences may have occurred’. As a result, a formal investigation is now underway to establish whether this is the case. So what are they looking for? The government announced last week that Johnson has footed the bill for the works, with Liz Truss insisting on Sunday that the Prime

Dominic Cummings: I am not the Downing Street leaker

Dominic Cummings has released the following statement on his website: The Prime Minister’s new Director of Communications Jack Doyle, at the PM’s request, has made a number of false accusations to the media. 1. Re Dyson. I do have some WhatsApp messages between the PM/Dyson forwarded to me by the PM. I have not found the ones that were leaked to Laura Kuenssberg on my phone nor am I aware of being sent them last year. I was not directly or indirectly a or the source for the BBC/Kuenssberg story on the PM/Dyson texts. Yesterday some No. 10 officials told me that No. 10 would make this accusation and told me

The curious similarities between Carrie Symonds and Marie Antoinette

What is Carrie Symonds’s status? She seems to have a lot of influence but its extent is undefined. People find the lack of clarity unsettling. Nic Conner of the Bow Group observed in the Times that unlike ministers or civil servants she ‘cannot be sacked’ — a questionable point given Boris Johnson’s alleged amatory record. It is true however that she was neither elected nor appointed. So what is she — mistress, partner, girlfriend, fiancé or (perish the thought) first lady? We have to raid the historical locker to find the mot juste: maîtresse-en-titre – the official mistress of the French kings. The mistress that seems most relevant is Madame de Pompadour

Could Carrie Symonds use the Irvine defence?

After a year of intermittent lockdowns, many Britons have spent too long looking at the walls of their flat and have started to consider an interior upgrade. So, who can blame the Prime Minister’s fiancé Carrie Symonds for thinking similar? The Daily Mail reports that Symonds has recently completed an extensive makeover of the Downing Street apartment she shares with Johnson – complete with ‘gold wall coverings’. As for the motivating factor in the refurbishment, a Tatler profile of Symonds reports that she has been on a mission to remove all vestiges of Theresa May’s ‘John Lewis furniture nightmare’ (imagine the horror). Rather than shop in a mere department store,

Carrie Symonds and the cult of rewilding

Carrie Symonds is to join the Aspinall Foundation as its new head of communications, in a move very much on-brand for the Prime Minister’s squeeze. Symonds has been credited with Boris Johnson’s metamorphosis from pro-liberty, free market Brexiteer to environmentalist — a strategy that she may have spotted as working rather well for disgraced former Italian PM Silvio Berlusconi, who changed his image from that of a love rat to rat lover, frequently sharing snaps of himself with adorable animals on Instagram.  So what will Carrie’s call to the wild entail? The Aspinall Foundation works with conserving and rewilding endangered animals, and runs two centres in the UK, whilst also

Boris Johnson’s surprising new love of animals

I am amused to learn that Carrie Symonds interrupts cabinet meetings to complain about newspaper stories featuring her dog Dilyn. I was surprised that Boris agreed to a rescue dog in Downing Street. In all the years I have known him, he has never seemed very fond of animals; at least he has always shown a rather cavalier attitude towards Mini. Mini is a gentle soul, with the milk of canine kindness bursting from every pore. The only person she has ever attacked is our current Prime Minister. One could plead this was out of self-defence. Boris had just sat on her.

Was endorsing Boris one of my worst misjudgments ever?

Now that our social lives are a Venn diagram that only mathematicians can understand I am officially becoming a recluse. I’ve been getting to this point for years, but since the latest Covid rules mean that what we can and can’t do until ‘vaccine freedom day’ can only be understood if you have a head for shaded charts, I am resigning from polite society, in so far as I was ever in it. Boris may as well have announced 375 tiers and a rule saying anyone who wants to celebrate Christmas needs to sit inside an actual bubble and roll themselves along the floor. I have no idea what the

‘I wish her well’: inside Westminster’s secret language

An Apology An apology is a series of words strung together to absolve one of sins committed in private or in one’s professional life, usually uncovered by a newspaper, which allows one to carry on one’s duties as if nothing had happened, and very often to repeat the sins for which one has apologised. It needn’t be sincere — indeed, that is considered rather poor form — and it is only ever to be used as a measure of last resort. If in doubt, simply apologise for how you have made someone feel rather than the action itself. “I wish them well” An expression that loosely translates as “May God

Inside the court of Carrie Symonds, princess of whales

Carrie Symonds, the Prime Minister’s fiancée, ‘gets’ the media. That’s what her friends are quick to tell you. She’s a PR professional. If she doesn’t like the thrust of a story, she lets you know. She contacts journalists to tell them how ‘disappointed’ she is in their sloppy work. And she doesn’t seem all that scared of senior newspaper editors, perhaps because her father co-founded the Independent. It’s said she even thinks she can ‘edit what goes in the Mail on Sunday’. When the Times ran a silly piece suggesting she had ‘grown weary’ of Dilyn, her rescue dog, and that the poor creature was facing a ‘reshuffle’, she is

Katy Balls

Boris in a spin: can the PM find his way again?

Something strange is going on in Westminster: nearly every minister and Tory MP has a spring in their step. It’s not (just) the vaccine breakthrough, or the magic money tree now bearing such fruit in the back garden of HM Treasury. The liberation-of-Paris feel in locked-down Westminster is inspired by the departure of Boris Johnson’s senior Vote Leave aides, Dominic Cummings and Lee Cain. Tories of all stripes seem to think they will now get what they want. When the news broke that the pair were to leave Downing Street with immediate effect — following a power tussle with the Prime Minister’s partner Carrie Symonds and new press spokeswoman Allegra

Carrie goes to war over Dilyn the dog

It seems fresh infighting has broken out in Whitehall on what is supposed to be the most important Budget day of a generation. Yes, a briefing war has spilt out into the open, with the PM’s fiancée Carrie Symonds taking to Twitter to defend… Dilyn the dog.  Some fed-up official appears to have been whispering that the prime ministerial pooch is ‘sickly’ and could be on the way out.  According to reports, the inhabitants of No. 10 are sick to the back teeth with, to borrow Ms Symond’s phrase, ‘a load of total crap’. The Times‘s Ben Ellery reports the words of one insider, who told the paper: ‘For a while there was dog shit everywhere in

Portrait of the week: Coronavirus plans, Boris’s baby and Priti Patel under fire

Home After a Cobra emergency meeting about the coronavirus Covid-19, when the number of cases in the United Kingdom had reached 40, Boris Johnson, the Prime Minister, said that they had ‘agreed a plan so that as and when it starts to spread — as I’m afraid it looks likely that it will — we are in a position to take the steps that will be necessary’. The plan expects up to a fifth of the workforce to be off sick during the peak of an epidemic. After a week in which shares lost 12 per cent of their value, the Bank of England said that it was working ‘to