PM tried 'appointing his then-mistress to Foreign Office role in 2018'

Boris Johnson ‘tried to appoint his then-mistress Carrie as his chief of staff while Foreign Secretary but was blocked by colleagues after they discovered their affair’

  • Mr Johnson accused of trying to appoint his then mistress Carrie Symonds to a £100k-a-year role while he served as Foreign Secretary between 2016 and 2018
  • The PM’s decision was blocked by allies who feared it would be breach of ethics
  • Staffers learned of then-Foreign Secretrary and Ms Symonds’ true relationship after an MP walked in on them in a ‘compromising position’ in his office in 2018

Boris Johnson was last night accused of trying to appoint Carrie Johnson to a top taxpayer-funded position while Foreign Secretary before he was blocked by colleagues who discovered they were having an affair.

The Prime Minister, who served as chief of the Foreign Office between 2016 and 2018, wanted to make his future wife his £100,000-a-year chief of staff before allies intervened, the Times reports.

Those close to Mr Johnson feared the move would have been a clear breach of ethical standards within one of the four great offices of state. 

At the time, staffers learned of the Foreign Secretary and the-then Ms Symonds true relationship after a Tory MP allegedly walked in on them in a ‘compromising position’ in Mr Johnson’s office at the start of 2018. 

He was, at the time, still married to lawyer Marina Wheeler, his second wife of 25 years and mother to four of his children.

A source close to the-then Foreign Secretary and involved in the decision to block Ms Symond’s appointment told the Times: ‘It would have left [Boris] dangerously exposed’. 

Appointing his then-mistress as Mr Johnson’s right-hand woman would have been ‘a far bigger scandal’ than ex-Health Secretary Matt Hancock’s infamous lockdown-busting kiss with aide Gina Colangelo, the source added.

Boris Johnson was last night accused of trying to appoint Carrie Johnson to a top taxpayer-funded position while Foreign Secretary before he was blocked by colleagues who discovered they were having an affair 

The Prime Minister, who served as chief of the Foreign Office between 2016 and 2018, reportedly wanted to make his future wife his £100,000-a-year chief of staff before allies intervened. They are pictured together at the Tory party conference in Manchester in 2019

Mr Johnson is pictured above with the-then Ms Symonds at a Conservative Party fundraising event in London in February 2018

Another anonymous source, speaking to the Times, described the decision to block Mr Johnson promoting Ms Symonds as one that would protect him.

‘An illicit relationship with Carrie was none of our business, making her chief of staff was definitely our business. Our job was to protect him.’

They continued: ‘We knew what was going on between them and that it was an insane risk to him to let him do it’. 

Having split from Ms Wheeler in September 2018, there was little pause before Mr Johnson was publicly linked to Carrie Symonds, described at the time as a ‘party-loving Tory aide’. 

Ms Symonds had been a high-profile figure in Westminster for almost a decade, holding senior positions at Tory HQ and as an adviser to Cabinet Ministers. 

She crossed paths with Mr Johnson after joining the Tories as a press officer in 2009, before campaigning for him during the 2010 London mayoral selection and working on the successful ‘Back Boris’ campaign to re-elect him in 2012.

By age 29, Carrie was made Head of Communications for the Conservative Party, and had a string of high-profile ministers backing her, including Sajid Javid.

Around the same time and Mr Johnson and Ms Wheeler were finalising their split.

After her affair with Johnson was exposed, The Times quoted an unnamed source as saying: ‘[Carrie] was one of these girls who would be at all the parties. I can’t remember her doing any work that was really good but she was at every party going.

‘The Tories love a social gathering and there were always a lot of parties for her to be at. The rest of us always wondered how she could afford all the dresses and designer handbags and the going out, on her kind of salary. Her friends were all beautiful. It looked like an episode of Love Island.’ 

By September 2018, with rumours about her friendship with Mr Johnson swirling around Westminster, it was reported he had been seen in Rules restaurant in Covent Garden with a ‘young attractive’ blonde woman. 

They are said to have spent two hours at a corner table while two bodyguards sat nearby. At the time, one onlooker was reported as saying: ‘It seemed quite an intimate meal and hardly anything to do with any great matters of State.’ 

Boris Johnson and Carrie Symonds gaze into each other’s eyes in the first public picture released after their summer 2021 wedding

Mr Johnson exchanged vows with Ms Symonds in Catholic Westminster Cathedral (pictured) in front of a handful of close friends and family – becoming the first Prime Minister to marry in office since Lord Liverpool married Mary Chester in 1822

Firmer evidence emerged in the form of ‘mischievous text messages from Boris’ which Ms Symonds showed to friends at a wedding.

Mr Johnson would later marry Carrie at the Catholic Westminster Cathedral on May 29, 2021 and was followed by a celebration in the Rose Garden at Number 10 Downing Street.

The Tory leader became the first premier to marry in office in almost two centuries. He followed in the footsteps of Lord Liverpool, who married Mary Chester in 1822 and was prime minister for 15 years.

The revelations come just days after the PM was rocked by the shock resignation of his ethics tsar who quit just 14 months after he took up his position. 

Lord Geidt, a former private secretary to the Queen, released a terse statement on the Government’s website in which he said: ‘With regret, I feel that it is right that I am resigning from my post as independent adviser on ministers’ interests.’

A No 10 source said the move came as a ‘total surprise’ to Mr Johnson, and claimed that as late as Monday, Lord Geidt had asked if he could stay on for another six months. 

Lord Geidt becomes the second independent adviser on ministers’ interests to resign during Mr Johnson’s tenure as Prime Minister. Sir Alex Allan quit in 2020 after Mr Johnson refused to accept his finding that Home Secretary Priti Patel had bullied civil servants. 

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