Where personal relationships and politics collide


While Prime Ministers’ spouses have always been of public interest, few have had an accused bigger impact on political choices than Boris Johnson’s new wife, Carrie Symonds. Johnson may have attempted to keep his personal life and relationships private, however the effects his personal relationships have had on his term in office have been anything but that.

Few have had a bigger impact on political choices than Carrie Symonds

On Saturday 29th May Johnson wed Symonds, the mother to his youngest child in a small ceremony at Westminster. While Symonds has made few public appearances, her impact inside Downing Street has been far less reserved. Criticism arose through reporting’s that the couple had exceeded the usual £30,000 allowance to redecorate their private flat above No. 11 with some reports speculating that the couple spent up to £200,000 refurbishing the flat. Former chief advisor, Dominic Cummings, claimed donors paid for the difference in the refurbishment costs which he said was “unethical, foolish” and “possibly illegal”.

While many critics have accosted Symonds for her role in the excessive spending on their flat renovation, others have labelled attacks sexist. Either way, one thing is for certain, Symonds influence within Downing street extends far further than interior decorating.

Symonds appears to be the route of many fallouts within Downing Street, most publicly the resignation of former chief advisor, Cummings. Cummings belittled and attacked Symonds in his recent select committee hearing referring to her as the “Prime Minister’s girlfriend” blaming her “crackers” reaction to a newspaper story about her dog Dilyn for slowing the Prime Minister’s response to the pandemic.

Moreover, Cummings’ claims that Symonds was “definitely connected” to his resignation as she wanted to dish out jobs in No. 10 to her friends. While Cummings’ accusations appear absurd and portray him as a jealous and bitter ex-friend wanting the Prime Minister to choose between him and his girlfriend, it is obvious that personal relationships intercepted both his and the Prime Ministers political decision-making process.

Relationships should not get in the way of decisions

The public attacks thrown at the Prime Minister’s now-wife reveal more about how Johnson mixes personal relationships with political decisions and the ultimately doomed failure this encores than Symonds herself.

Cummings may have forgotten, but it was not that long ago his old friend Johnson was defending his unbelievable actions during the early stages of the pandemic.

Johnson’s defence of Cummings travelling across the country while knowingly having Covid-19 raised questions around the priorities of the Prime Minister and exposed the loyalties he had to certain staff members such as Cummings. The Prime Minister’s defence of Cummings was dependent on their close, personal relationship.

However, Cummings’ accusations against the Prime Minister since his resignation demonstrate why personal relationships should not get in the way of political decisions.

It is no secret that Johnson epitomises the adjective ‘indecisive’ and his easily influenced way of governing has allowed personal relationships to infiltrate his political decision making.

Whether that be keeping his wife happy or maintaining loyalty to certain staff members, the influence of personal relationships has been felt throughout Johnson’s term in office.

Image by UK Prime Minister via Creative Commons

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