British press officer, partner of Boris Johnson
|Spouse of the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom|
|Assumed role |
29 May 2021
|Prime Minister||Boris Johnson|
|Preceded by||Marina Wheeler[a]|
Caroline Louise Bevan Symonds
17 March 1988
|Education||Godolphin and Latymer School |
University of Warwick
Caroline Louise Bevan "Carrie" Johnson (née Symonds; born 17 March 1988) is a British political activist, conservationist, and the wife of the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, Boris Johnson. She had been the first unmarried partner of a prime minister to reside at Downing Street. She works as a senior advisor to the ocean conservation charity Oceana.
Early life and education
Johnson was born on 17 March 1988 to Matthew Symonds, co-founder of The Independent, and Josephine Mcaffee (née Lawrence), a lawyer working for that newspaper. Her paternal grandfather was John Beavan, Baron Ardwick (at one time editor of the Daily Herald and later, during the 1970s, a Labour Party MEP), and her paternal grandmother was Anne Symonds, a BBC World Service journalist.
Johnson was brought up by her mother in East Sheen, London, and between 1999 and 2006 attended Godolphin and Latymer School, an independent day school for girls. She went on to the University of Warwick, where she studied art history and theatre studies, completing her degree in 2009.
Career and political activism
In 2009, Johnson joined the Conservative Party as a press officer. She worked at Conservative Campaign Headquarters, and later campaigned for Boris Johnson in the 2010 London Conservative Party mayoral selection. She has also worked for Conservative MPs Sajid Javid (as a media special adviser) and John Whittingdale.
Johnson became the Conservative Party's head of communications in 2018, but left the position later that year, taking up a job in public relations for the Oceana project. It was reported that she was asked to leave her post as director of communications after sources said party chiefs had said her performance was poor, and questions were raised over significant unjustified expenses claims. These accusations were, however, rejected by other sources as being a smear campaign based around rumours allegedly spread by Johnson's political strategist, Lynton Crosby.
John Worboys case
In 2007, aged 19, Johnson was driven home from a King's Road nightclub by taxi-driver John Worboys, who in 2009 was convicted of multiple sexual assaults on his passengers. She later recalled Worboys offering her champagne and vodka, which she believed was spiked and, after returning home, "vomiting and laughing hysterically before passing out until 3pm the next day".
Johnson was one of fourteen women who testified against Worboys at his trial. She subsequently told The Telegraph that he was "a sad, wicked man who is a danger to society. I feel so angry that he pleaded not guilty and made us go through the pain of giving evidence in court".
Johnson was the youngest of Worboys' victims, and waived her anonymity to talk about her experiences and, later, to campaign against his early release, fundraising for a successful judicial review of the decision.
Public and personal life
She reportedly began an affair with British politician Boris Johnson, then the Foreign Secretary, in 2018 while he was still married to his second wife, Marina Wheeler. In July 2019, Boris became prime minister and both he and Carrie officially moved into 10 Downing Street. The following month, she was barred from entering the United States as her visa application was rejected due to a previous visit to Somaliland, which the US considers to be part of immigration-restricted Somalia. On 16 August 2019, she made her first public appearance since entering 10 Downing Street, when she addressed what she called the "gigantic" climate crisis.
Concerns over her influence on the prime minister were raised in January 2020, when it came to light that she had received briefs from animal rights activists just before the government pulled a planned cull of badgers in Derbyshire. An association representing farmers, the NFU, asserted that this meeting and her influence played a key role in the government ignoring scientific advice in favour of retaining the cull. According to The Guardian, a judicial review has been granted permission to examine how the decision was reached. She was also allegedly influential in making sure that Lee Cain did not get a job as the prime minister's chief of staff, and has urged Johnson to fire environment secretary George Eustice from his role. She was also involved in a political controversy over the refurbishment of the 11 Downing Street flat, and her comments over the flat's decor being a "John Lewis furniture nightmare" (John Lewis typically being an aspirational, upper-middle-class shop) led to accusations of snobbery.
During Dominic Cummings's tenure as chief adviser, Cummings and Carrie Johnson were said to represent two separate factions influencing the prime minister. Cummings also said that the prime minister "cancel[led] an inquiry about a leak ... because it might implicate his girlfriend's friends"; Cummings accused Henry Newman, the senior adviser in Downing Street and ally of Carrie Johnson, of being a "chatty rat" who leaked the plans for a second lockdown in October. Cummings later said in 2021 that Johnson acted "illegally" in awarding influential jobs to her friends, including press secretary Allegra Stratton.
Caroline Nokes said that Carrie Johnson's influence has been exaggerated for sexist purposes; she has been likened to both Lady Macbeth and Marie Antoinette by her critics. Marie Le Conte of the Sunday Times disagrees with the statement that such criticism is sexist.
Engagement and marriage
On 29 February 2020, she and the prime minister announced that they had become engaged in late 2019 and were expecting a baby in mid-2020. Their son was born in April 2020 in London. She is a practising Catholic and had her son baptised into the Catholic Church.
She married the prime minister on 29 May 2021 in a secret ceremony at Westminster Cathedral attended by thirty guests. She wore a boho-chic style bridal gown by Greek designer Christos Costarellos.
- Boris Johnson, although separated with Wheeler upon taking office, was still legally married to her until their divorce was finalised on an unknown date in 2020; therefore, she was a spouse of the prime minister.
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- "About". Conservative Animal Welfare Foundation. Retrieved 17 April 2020.
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- "Carrie Symonds warns politicians of 'gigantic' climate crisis responsibility". The Guardian. 16 August 2019. ISSN 0261-3077.
- Elgot, Jessica (12 November 2020). "Lee Cain: Johnson's senior aide resigns amid infighting at No 10". The Guardian. Retrieved 1 June 2021.
- Elgot, Jessica (30 April 2021). "Carrie Symonds' influence at No 10 extends much further than the decor". The Guardian. Retrieved 2 June 2021.
- Strick, Katie; Sleigh, Sophia (27 April 2021). "How could Boris and Carrie's Downing St refurbishment cost £200,000?". Evening Standard. Retrieved 2 June 2021.
- "A question for Boris Johnson and Carrie Symonds: what is wrong with John Lewis?". The Independent. 28 April 2021. Retrieved 2 June 2021.
- Parker, Sadie (28 April 2021). "John Lewis: rich woman's nightmare, poor woman's dream". West Country Bylines. Retrieved 2 June 2021.
- Syal, Rajeev; Walker, Peter; Murphy, Simon (13 November 2020). "How Cummings and Carrie Symonds vie for Johnson's attention". The Guardian. Retrieved 1 June 2021.
- Mendick, Robert (23 April 2021). "Sorting through the shrapnel: what Dominic Cummings' grenade-ridden riposte means". The Telegraph. Retrieved 2 June 2021.
- Diver, Tony; Horton, Helena (25 April 2021). "Carrie Symonds defended over 'sexist fabrication' that she tried to get minister fired". The Telegraph. Retrieved 2 June 2021.
- Courea, Eleni (27 May 2021). "Carrie Symonds 'tried to install friends in key roles', Dominic Cummings claims". The Times. Retrieved 1 June 2021.
- Sheridan, Danielle (3 May 2021). "Samantha Cameron defends Carrie Symonds over 'Lady Macbeth' attacks". The Telegraph. Retrieved 2 June 2021.
- Conte, Marie Le (2 May 2021). "Carrie Symonds is a serious political player — so it's not sexist to ask 'What's her game?'". The Sunday Times. Retrieved 2 June 2021.
- "Boris Johnson and Carrie Symonds engaged and expecting baby". BBC News. London. 29 February 2020. Retrieved 3 May 2020.
- Braddick, Imogen (2 May 2020). "Boris Johnson and Carrie Symonds name baby boy Wilfred Lawrie Nicholas Johnson after doctors who saved PM's life". Evening Standard. London. Retrieved 16 August 2020.
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- Beech, Samantha (30 May 2021). "Boris Johnson marries Carrie Symonds in secret wedding". CNN. Retrieved 1 June 2021.
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- Javed, Saman. "Everything we know about Carrie Symonds' wedding look". The Independent. Retrieved 31 May 2021.
- "Carrie Symonds wears a boho-organza tiered white gown and flower crown for a wedding with Boris Johnson". The Independent. Retrieved 31 May 2021.
Title last held byMarina Wheeler
| Spouse of the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom