A VERY BRAZEN POWER COU­PLE

She’s been spot­ted ‘goos­ing’ him in pub­lic, given him a makeover — and hol­i­dayed at his fam­ily villa. Now, as Boris John­son and his much younger lover pre­pare to go pub­lic, we re­veal how they share an­other pas­sion: raw am­bi­tion...

Scottish Daily Mail - - News - By He­len Weathers

TO PASSERS-BY, they must have looked like any other love­struck cou­ple who, in the grip of a heady new ro­mance, sim­ply couldn’t keep their hands off each other. De­spite be­ing wrapped up against the win­ter cold — him with a beanie hat pulled down over his in­stantly recog­nis­able mop of hair — she was all smiles as she play­fully tweaked his bot­tom in a very pub­lic dis­play of af­fec­tion on a Lon­don street.

Her face, framed by a swishy blonde pony­tail, was a pic­ture of youth­ful joie de vivre. He, mean­while, could be for­given for look­ing like the cat who got the cream.

Five months after 54-year-old Brex­i­teer Boris John­son’s ‘close friend­ship’ with for­mer Tory pub­lic re­la­tions chief Car­rie Symonds sparked a po­lit­i­cal storm and prompted him to ad­mit his mar­riage was end­ing, it ap­pears dis­cre­tion can no longer com­pete with pas­sion.

Al­though he is not yet di­vorced from his sec­ond wife of 25 years, Ma­rina, the scene de­scibed above — as shown in blurry latenight pic­tures pub­lished in a Sun­day tabloid — gives the strong­est in­di­ca­tion yet that Boris and Car­rie are pre­par­ing to go pub­lic with their re­la­tion­ship.

He is re­ported to have moved into a £1mil­lion ‘love-nest’ flat with Car­rie, 30, where the pair hosted a pre-New Year party for close friends, who wit­nessed them ‘kiss­ing and cud­dling’ through­out.

In­deed, so be­sot­ted is Boris with Car­rie — who is 24 years his ju­nior, and only four years older than his daugh­ter Lara Let­tice, who called her fa­ther a ‘self­ish b ***** d’ after her mother ac­cused him of cheat­ing — sources say that he may plan to make her the third Mrs John­son.

‘They are very loved up,’ a source told the Mail. ‘It’s com­pletely sin­cere on both their parts, and it wouldn’t sur­prise me at all if they ended up get­ting mar­ried once his divorce is all set­tled.’

As well he might, pri­vately note some West­min­ster ob­servers, be­cause should Boris ever suc­ceed in a lead­er­ship bid to re­place Theresa May, how else would Car­rie Symonds fit into his fu­ture life at Num­ber 10?

LAST Septem­ber, Boris and his wife Ma­rina, a bar­ris­ter and mother of his four adult chil­dren, is­sued a joint state­ment, in the wake of the furore over the friend­ship, con­firm­ing they had sep­a­rated some months pre­vi­ously and were in the process of di­vorc­ing.

Car­rie quit her po­si­tion as di­rec­tor of com­mu­ni­ca­tions at Con­ser­va­tive Cam­paign head­quar­ters after eight years, and went to ground, be­fore tak­ing up a role with me­dia gi­ant Bloomberg, lead­ing its eco­log­i­cal ini­tia­tive, Vi­brant Oceans.

Far from cool­ing the friend­ship, how­ever, their feel­ings seem to have deep­ened in the past five months, ap­par­ently ce­ment­ing into some­thing very se­ri­ous dur­ing a New Year hol­i­day at the Greek villa owned by Boris’s fa­ther Stan­ley, where last sum­mer Boris hol­i­dayed with his chil­dren.

It sits, with spec­tac­u­lar sea views, amid olive groves on the Aegean penin­sula of Pe­lion. The dot­ing cou­ple were spot­ted out and about in the lo­cal area, en­joy­ing a ro­man­tic meal in a tav­erna.

In­trigu­ingly, Boris stopped post­ing Twit­ter up­dates dur­ing their ro­man­tic get­away — al­though busi­nesslike Car­rie, renowned in West­min­ster for her net­work­ing skills, con­tin­ued to send reg­u­lar up­dates about her en­vi­ron­men­tal cam­paigns.

The hol­i­day marked a new de­vel­op­ment for the pair, who have been at pains not to be seen or pho­tographed to­gether since the John­sons an­nounced their mar­riage was over last year.

Last month it was re­ported Boris was due to at­tend Zac Gold­smith’s an­nual din­ner for the Rich­mond Park Con­ser­va­tives with Car­rie as his guest — their first pub­lic out­ing — but she is said to have pulled out, fear­ing me­dia at­ten­tion. They may be, as friends re­port, in love. But with John­son’s am­bi­tion to be elected PM undimmed, both are canny po­lit­i­cal op­er­a­tors and acutely aware of the im­pli­ca­tions of how they han­dle their re­la­tion­ship and its pub­lic per­cep­tion.

Now, given their pub­lic dis­play of af­fec­tion, have those fears re­ceded? ‘I think Car­rie loves him, it’s as straight­for­ward as that,’ one ac­quain­tance told the Mail.

But such is the per­cep­tion of Car­rie’s be­hind-the-scenes in­flu­ence on Boris — an arch-critic of Theresa May’s Brexit deal and be­lieved to be ma­noeu­vring him­self for a lead­er­ship bid — she is said to have al­ready at­tracted the nick­name FLOTUS, as in ‘First Lady of the United States’, the acro­nym used by White House staffers for the Pres­i­dent’s wife.

‘Car­rie is work­ing him into shape. FLOTUS is a ref­er­ence to her level of im­por­tance in his life and his am­bi­tions for the Con­ser­va­tive Party lead­er­ship,’ a well-placed in­for­mant told the Mail. ‘They are quite sim­i­lar peo­ple. She is in­cred­i­bly po­lit­i­cal, am­bi­tious like he is, and I am sure that she will be ad­vis­ing him pro­fes­sion­ally about the lead­er­ship and what to do next.

‘They are a proper power cou­ple. Ob­vi­ously, they don’t want to be flaunt­ing their re­la­tion­ship with the divorce not yet set­tled, but it is what it is, and they have to find a way to nav­i­gate that.

‘It was all quite se­ri­ous from the off, so not some kind of dal­liance,

and Car­rie has been talk­ing openly to friends about be­ing to­gether with Boris.’

De­spite re­ports the pair had split up shortly be­fore Christ­mas — their re­la­tion­ship with­er­ing un­der the crit­i­cal glare of the spot­light — the Mail can re­veal that, on the con­trary, the friend­ship has re­mained red hot.

When Car­rie at­tended the spec­ta­tor mag­a­zine’s Par­lia­men­tar­ian of the year awards at the rose­wood Ho­tel in Lon­don in Novem­ber, Boris was con­spic­u­ous by his ab­sence.

But a fel­low guest told the Mail: ‘Car­rie looked very ra­di­ant. she talked openly about Boris and made no se­cret of the fact that they were very much to­gether. she looked like a woman in love, def­i­nitely.’

sim­i­larly, it has been re­ported that he has been de­scribed by some close to them as be­ing like a ‘puppy’ around her. Ob­servers have no­ticed some pos­i­tive life­style changes which they sus­pect may be the re­sult of Car­rie’s in­flu­ence.

‘He’s been talk­ing about how much weight he has lost re­cently, and I think Car­rie has put him on her diet.

‘she is def­i­nitely ad­vis­ing him and I think that is one of the rea­sons she left her job, be­cause she felt more loyal to him in the end than the party,’ says one ob­server. Last month, the for­mer For­eign sec­re­tary an­nounced that he’d lost 12lb in two weeks on the ad­vice of a French doc­tor.

Writ­ing in the spec­ta­tor, he said he’d sworn off al­co­hol and ‘latenight binges of chorizo and cheese’, pledg­ing to get in shape for Brexit (and a pos­si­ble lead­er­ship con­test).

In­deed, it seems un­likely that with­out a younger girl­friend to keep pace with, let alone the rapid pace of Brexit pol­i­tics, the Boris of old would have been will­ing, as he wrote in the spec­ta­tor, to ‘break­fast like some Ge­or­gian her­mit on por­ridge with a lux­ury sprin­kling of nuts’, or ‘guz­zle wa­ter’ at drinks par­ties.

they met in 2012 when Car­rie was one of four of­fi­cials sec­onded from tory HQ to work on his cam­paign to be re-elected Lon­don Mayor.

the daugh­ter of Matthew symonds, a founder of the In­de­pen­dent news­pa­per, and Josephine Mcaf­fee, one of the paper’s lawyers, she grew up in east sheen in south-West Lon­don and at­tended the pri­vate £20,000-a-year Godol­phin & Latymer school.

After gain­ing a first-class hon­ours de­gree in theatre stud­ies and his­tory of art from War­wick Univer­sity, she joined Con­ser­va­tive HQ as a press of­fi­cer in 2009.

Gre­gar­i­ous, in­tel­li­gent, am­bi­tious, strong-minded and at­trac­tive, Car­rie quickly made a name for her­self, win­ning pro­fes­sional and more per­sonal ad­mir­ers.

When Boris was ap­pointed For­eign sec­re­tary in 2016, Miss symonds must have been a nat­u­ral choice to work with him on the Vote Leave cam­paign.

‘Car­rie is great fun,’ an ob­server says. ‘Like a lot of po­lit­i­cal op­er­a­tors, she is highly in­tel­li­gent, highly charis­matic, vi­va­cious and flir­ta­tious . . . she loves to gos­sip.’

‘she knows how the world works and she is am­bi­tious for her­self, but I don’t think she has fallen in love with Boris be­cause she sees it as a route to the top.

‘Boris is in­cred­i­bly charis­matic, he is great com­pany and po­ten­tially a very pow­er­ful man. He is in­flu­en­tial in West­min­ster, he is a man of ideas and they are very well suited.’

A for­mer West­min­ster col­league, how­ever, of­fered a less flat­ter­ing as­sess­ment of Miss symonds’ blonde am­bi­tion. ‘Car­rie wants to reach the top,’ was his opin­ion. ‘she is not in­ter­ested in the slow lane; she wants to get there yes­ter­day. she is a force of na­ture.’

ru­mours about a close friend­ship be­tween them started when the pair were seen din­ing at Lon­don’s old­est restau­rant, rules in Covent Gar­den, on Valen­tine’s Day last year — chap­er­oned by body­guards who were seated at a dis­creet dis­tance on a nearby ta­ble.

In March, Boris was again so­cial­is­ing with his ad­viser as a guest at a house party to cel­e­brate Car­rie’s 30th birth­day. He re­port­edly burned up the dance floor flam­boy­antly to the sound of ABBA’s great­est hits, try­ing to im­press her.

When pho­to­graphs emerged of them chat­ting out­side the to­ries’ Black and White Ball at the Nat­u­ral His­tory Mu­seum early last year, many no­ticed that they ap­peared to share an un­mis­take­able chem­istry in just one glance.

Again, at a pri­vate get-to­gether for Brex­i­teers last au­tumn, they re­port­edly ar­rived and left to­gether, and spent all evening talk­ing.

they must have had much to dis­cuss, whether it was their fu­ture to­gether or his po­lit­i­cal am­bi­tions that formed the topic of con­ver­sa­tion.

SIX months be­fore their close friend­ship came to light, West­min­ster in­sid­ers re­port­edly said Boris and fel­low Brex­i­teer Michael Gove stepped in to save Car­rie’s job as the party’s Pr ex­ec­u­tive after other min­is­ters turned on her.

‘Like Boris, Car­rie is pas­sion­ate about Brexit,’ says a well-placed ob­server. ‘Boris is cam­paign­ing against May’s Brexit deal, which he thinks is a night­mare — I think he said it’s worse than stay­ing in.

‘If May goes, there is go­ing to be an almighty bun­fight for the lead­er­ship. If Brexit hasn’t hap­pened by that point, a lot of tory mem­bers are go­ing to be look­ing for some­one to give them lead­er­ship on Brexit, and he will want to be one of the can­di­dates.’

An­other added: ‘Car­rie re­ally wants Boris to be leader.’

Whether or not he ever gets the top job, friends be­lieve that — un­like with Boris’s past high­ly­pub­li­cised dal­liances — the cou­ple are gen­uinely in love and he ‘doesn’t want to mess it up’.

Fa­mously, the twice-mar­ried for­mer Lon­don Mayor and MP for Uxbridge and south ruis­lip was sacked from a shadow min­is­te­rial role in 2004 by then Con­ser­va­tive leader Michael Howard for al­legedly ly­ing over an af­fair with jour­nal­ist Petronella Wy­att — some­thing he de­nied, de­scrib­ing it as an ‘in­verted pyra­mid of pif­fle’.

His mar­riage to long-suf­fer­ing Ma­rina has been over­shad­owed by al­leged in­fi­delity, while his first mar­riage to Ox­ford Univer­sity sweet­heart Al­le­gra Mostyn-Owen was dis­solved in 1993 after six years when he met and fell in love with Ma­rina.

In 2009, Boris was re­ported to have fa­thered a child with art con­sul­tant He­len Macin­tyre.

so, could this re­la­tion­ship be off to a more aus­pi­cious start?

One in­sider re­port­edly said this week­end: ‘He’s lucky to have Car­rie. they wouldn’t have gone through all this if it weren’t se­ri­ous. It’s not seedy — these are two peo­ple who fell in love and want to be to­gether.’

COY GLANCES THAT HINTED AT RO­MANCE HIS DRA­MATIC WEIGHT LOSS

Pic­tures: i-IMAGES / LON­DON NEWS PIC­TURES LTD

Vi­va­cious and driven: Boris’s new love, Car­rie Symonds. Top left: At the To­ries’ Black and White Ball last year. Far left: The cou­ple in 2012, when they first met THEIR GREEK LOVE NEST OUT­SIDE THEIR FLAT LAST WEEK

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.