Daily Telegraph, 10th July 2019
‘Behind every successful man,’ the cliché runs, ‘there is a strong woman.’ So as Boris Johnson romps his way towards No 10, it’s perhaps not surprising that the character of his girlfriend is under intense scrutiny. But while our putative PM refuses to answer questions about his “loved ones” – while destroying their sofas with perfect impunity – it’s rather shocking to see how Carrie Symonds’ private life is being pulled apart publicly.
According to a succession of recent ‘scoops’ – or vicious personal attacks – depending on how you look at them – the 31-year-old was sacked from her last job because she was bad at it, ran up vast taxi bills and blamed them on her staff, while leaking stories damaging to Theresa May.
One suspects Carrie’s true offences might be rather different in nature: that all she’s really guilty of is using her considerable communications expertise to tame her lover’s penchant for saying stuff that lands him in lots of trouble, and forcing him to get a more Prime Ministerial haircut.
Woman to woman, it’s all pretty sickening reading – especially as friends of Miss Symonds’ say the real reason she lost her job as director of communications for the Conservative Party was “for taking time off last year to campaign against the decision to grant early parole to black cab rapist John Worboys”, by whom she was drugged when she was just 19.
It’s also queasy-making because tarnishing the reputation of whoever a powerful man is sleeping with has been going on for so many centuries you might hope it would have stopped in the 21st. You only have to flick through I, Claudius to see that Ancient Rome was governed by many honourable, principled emperors – and their witch wives. Take Augustus’ Livia – “a curse to the state and a blight on the house of the Caesars” according to Tacitus – accused of everything up to and including poisoning half her relatives.