Boris Johnson’s modern marriage with Carrie Symonds could be the making of him – Jayne Dowle

THE marriage of Prime Minister Boris Johnson to fiancée Carrie Symonds is being hailed as a distraction tactic from the battle with former Downing Street adviser Dominic Cummings.

Boris johnson after his wedding to Carrie Symonds at Westminster Cathedral.

It’s far more than that. This was no spur-of-the-moment decision. Apart from reports that it took months of marriage preparations to allow practising Catholic Symonds and twice-married Johnson to wed, there’s a significant date on the calendar.

The G7 summit at Carbis Bay in Cornwall next week. If ever Johnson needed to present a solid and united front, it’s now. He’s about to be judged in global terms, and certainly doesn’t want to stand at that podium looking like he needs his mother to brush his hair.

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Seriously, as host, the Prime Minister will be under particular scrutiny, especially when it comes to climate change, a topic which will be high on the agenda.

Boris Johnson was back in Downing Street this week just days after marrying Carrie Symonds.

Whilst the prospect of a new deep coal mine in Cumbria seems to sit oddly with the Prime Minister’s vague promise of “a greener, more prosperous future”, his new wife’s commitment to conservation charities, and her interesting millennial take on all matters green and sustainable, could well be his secret weapon.

Even Cummings and his super-sized intellectual ego couldn’t have manoeuvred themselves into that particular role.

Safe to say, however, that the famous disruptor of Downing Street’s name was nowhere near the list of 30 close friends and family invited to the wedding reception, held in a marquee in the garden of No 10 at the weekend.

Supporters of the Symonds camp are recognising the wedding as a clear signal to Cummings that she holds more power than he ever did.

Boris Johnson and his then fiancee Carrie Symonds participate in a national "clap for carers" celebration last year at the start of the pandemic.

Make no mistake; the joining of two souls in holy matrimony, in Westminster Cathedral no less, is an unequivocal statement of intent. Let no man cast asunder and all that.

A wise woman once told me that whatever the public image, no-one knows what goes on in a marriage except the two people involved.

And never more so than with political marriages. It would be spurious and prurient to speculate what attracted the 33-year-old Tory party high flyer to the 56-year-old twice married former roué, or comment on how the relationship has evolved since.

However, it is fair to say that Mr Johnson needs, if not an emotional prop, then a dedicated wing-person.

Yet the continuing vitriol between the ousted Cummings and the new Mrs Johnson, and which must not be allowed to become a distraction to the governance of the country, could well have its roots in their similarities.

Both, as historian Anthony Seldon points out, are far more alike than they might care to recognise – “modernisers, technocrats, impatient for radical change”.

As the daughter of one of the founders of the Independent newspaper, Matthew Symonds, and newspaper lawyer Josephine McAffee, she grew up in an intellectually challenging liberal environment.

After working at high level in Conservative party communications, including running the campaign for Johnson’s successful re-election bid as London mayor in 2012, she switched to public relations for Oceana, a project that protects sea life.

Earlier this year she joined the Aspinall Foundation, a conservation group, as head of communications. It’s not clear as yet whether she will continue in this role now she has an official status in Downing Street – and on the world stage.

It might be two centuries since a prime minister, Lord Liverpool, got hitched in office in 1882, but this was no anachronistic event. It’s a very modern union in all senses.

Forget for a moment, the cost of the reception and their domestic dramas; it is, nevertheless, instructive to remind ourselves that we are looking at a world leader and his wife.

As Ms Symonds, now Mrs Johnson, will find out, her new job comes with an onerous set of roles and responsibilities. Next week, the former PR chief will find herself in the unforgiving spotlight posing for photographs with world leaders and their spouses.

Seldon argues that whilst Cummings was all about himself and his own agenda, thus rendering Johnson weak and foolish, his wife may well bring out the best in the man.

Cummings accentuated Johnson’s foibles, his otherworldliness and no doubt fuelled his sense of paranoia, but the Prime Minister’s wife could well provide him with the ballast and assurance he needs, allowing his oft-overlooked strengths – empathy, optimism and directness – to blossom.

Next week will be the first test of this theory. Let’s hope for all our sakes that the balance of power shifts in the right direction.

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