Carrie Johnson has insisted she “has no role in government” and has been targeted by “enemies” of the prime minister in a “brutal information campaign”.
The prime minister’s wife issued an unusual statement through her spokeswoman on Sunday night, after a cabinet minister suggested she was “under scrutiny in a way that perhaps other prime ministers’ wives were not” in the last.
Mrs Johnson’s role in her husband’s prime ministerial role has been in the spotlight, and over the weekend a biography of the 33-year-old mother of two, written by Tory peer Lord Ashcroft, was serialized in the Daily Mail and Mail On Sunday, which sought to look at his alleged influence on the Prime Minister’s decision-making.
Lord Ashcroft, writing in the Mail, said his investigation had suggested that his “behavior prevents him (Boris Johnson) from leading Britain as effectively as the voters deserve”.
But allies have dismissed the criticism as sexist, with a spokesman for Ms Johnson saying on Sunday: “Once again, Ms Johnson has been the target of a brutal information campaign against her by her husband’s enemies. .
“This is just the latest attempt by embittered former officials to discredit her.
“She is a private person who plays no role in the government.”
It has been alleged that Ms Johnson has been embroiled in a series of scandals involving the Prime Minister, including suggestions that she pushed through the lavish redecoration of the apartment the couple share at 11 Downing Street and was instrumental in the evacuation of animals from the Nowzad Charity in Kabul.
No 10 has denied that Mr. and Mrs. Johnson had any involvement in the evacuation.
But Guto Harri, Downing Street’s newly appointed communications director, speaking on the BBC Newscast podcast last week, said the episode “raises that other specter that never goes away of who is influencing him (the prime minister) and we all know who is being accused of doing it this time, because she is more of an animal lover than he is actually.”
When asked if he was referring to Mrs. Johnson, he replied, “You said it, not me.”
Dominic Cummings, the former chief assistant to the prime minister, made it clear he was not a fan of Ms Johnson, saying she wanted to “get rid” of him from number 10.
He alleged that she was at one point “trying to change a bunch of different dates in Number 10 and appoint her friends to particular jobs.”
However, after her allies called Ms Johnson “Princess Nut Nut” at news conferences, David Cameron’s wife, Samantha, called the attacks “sexist”.
She said: “In my opinion, their husband or partner is the Prime Minister, they are quite capable of making decisions for themselves, they have a great team of advisers.
“So the idea that it’s the wife, that you’re somehow influencing them beyond what they think or the advice they get from their team, I think that’s a bit demeaning, really, to the prime minister.”
Kwarteng echoed this on Sunday, when he told Times Radio: “The report that she somehow has undue influence, I don’t think it’s true, the Prime Minister has been in politics for 25 years and has quite a set of strong of ideas.”
But when asked if there was an element of sexism in Mrs Johnson’s treatment compared to spouses of former prime ministers, Mr Kwarteng replied: “I wouldn’t say that, but I think it’s interesting when the spouse is someone who is 30 years old and has open positions that are well known, people feel free to criticize, I think that’s interesting”.
Pressed on what he meant by “interesting”, the minister replied: “I don’t think he’s sexist, I’m not going to go down the road of saying he’s sexist, but I’m saying his views are under scrutiny in some way.” that perhaps the wives of other prime ministers were not.
Journalist Sarah Vine, whose divorce from Leveling Up secretary Michael Gove was finalized last month after 20 years of marriage, said the focus on Ms Johnson was “the equivalent of political shaming”.
She told the BBC’s Sunday Morning programme: “The problem is that it is always the easiest thing to blame the woman and the truth is much more complicated than that.
“If Boris Johnson has given Carrie too much access or too much wiggle room, that’s his fault. He is the person in charge. He is the Prime Minister.”
She added: “I know Carrie Antoinette’s nickname is clever and a good pun and we all love a good pun, but I don’t think her head deserves to be on the block like this.
“Things have gone wrong and mistakes have been made, terrible mistakes… all the partygate stuff and I agree that all of that is completely unacceptable, but it’s not just her that has to take responsibility for this. Ultimately, I think it’s Johnson and the way he handles the number 10.”
Ms Vine said that in her own experience it was “incredibly damaging and difficult on a personal level” when a person was “filtered through the kind of toxic filter of politics and power, and then made to look like something are”. not really, really, really not.”
She said: “The mental toll on her will be significant.”
Labor MP Jess Phillips previously called criticism of Ms Johnson “sexist” and “age-biased”.
She said there was a briefing from “men who don’t like Carrie Symonds because they don’t have the clout they want to have.”
She added: “I have literally seen no evidence in my everyday life that Carrie Symonds (has too much influence). In some respects, maybe I wish she had more, she’s quite a feminist.”
Conservative MP Tracey Crouch has also spoken about how she did not like the way Mrs Johnson had been portrayed as a Lady Macbeth figure.
While in Lord Ashcroft’s book, former cabinet minister John Whittingdale, for whom Ms Johnson previously worked, said the influence she was said to have was inaccurate.
“Yes, I’m sure Boris and Carrie discuss things in a way previous spouses wouldn’t, because they were much less political,” he said.
“Samantha Cameron had little interest in politics. Philip May did not have a great knowledge of politics.
“This is the first time that the prime minister’s wife has been a committed political activist and had knowledge and experience of working in politics, so of course that’s going to be talked about. But she is very good. She advised me for 15 months, so I know that she is good, ”she would have said.
He added: “Carrie is going through a tough time. It bothers her and I feel sorry for her. It’s a pretty lonely existence. I think they have fought. She doesn’t see Boris as much as she would like because he is trying to run the country.”
George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.