In Brief

Does Carrie Symonds have too much influence over Boris Johnson?

Resignation of top aide raises questions over role of prime minister’s fiancee

“In the building behind me, Carrie hates Lee, Lee can’t work with Allegra, Allegra is worried about Dom, and Dom doesn’t seem to be in charge like he used to be.” 

So said Sky News’ deputy political editor Sam Coates during a report from Downing Street this week that presented a chaotic picture of Boris Johnson’s top team. And one of the key figures in the latest governmental drama is Carrie Symonds, the prime minister’s fiancee.

The Times reports that “Symonds helped to engineer the departure of Lee Cain”, Johnson’s director of communication and a key ally of Dominic Cummings. 

Symonds - a former director of communications for the Conservative Party - is said to count Cain among what her allies refer to as the PM’s “mad mullahs”, who she blames for “isolating [Johnson] from his own MPs, turning the media against the government and for overseeing a series of missteps on the pandemic”, the paper adds. 

Symonds is reported to have been pushing for a change of the guard following clashes with Cummings’ crew of “Brexit Boys”, who had taken to calling her “Princess Nut Nuts” behind her back, sources told The Telegraph.

But she has “had the last laugh”, says the paper.

Downing Street insiders claim Symonds has grown weary of Downing Street’s “macho culture, which has sidelined female special advisers”, The Guardian reports. Her supporters among the ranks of Tory MPs “say that, unlike Cummings, she has wanted to pull the parliamentary party closer to No. 10”, the paper adds.

With that aim, she reportedly voiced objections to the tipped appointment of Cain to the newly created chief of staff role, with this intervention backed by Allegra Straton, the face of Downing Street’s televised briefings, and Munira Mizra, head of No. 10’s policy unit.

In other words, Cain’s resignation is the culmination of the “Carrie Crew” seeing off Cummings and Co., says The Telegraph.

“Few if any prime ministerial spouses have been so openly politically active and apparently powerful” as Symonds, and “her role in the power drama has raised eyebrows”, writes the Daily Mail’s Whitehall correspondent David Wilcock.  

Symonds, however, appears unlikely to let those concerns stop her from wielding her influence over the man she is set to marry.

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