Carrie Johnson, a year of scandal and skulduggery
A year ago today, the news broke that Oliver Lewis, a senior Brexit negotiator and head of the Government’s Union Unit, was pushed out of 10 Downing Street.
Oliver’s removal was allegedly orchestrated by Carrie Symonds (as she was). For those of us who follow the ongoings inside Downing Street, this was yet another example of Carrie’s active involvement in the business of this Government.
Before Oliver’s exit, it was widely reported Carrie had blocked the appointment of Lee Cain as Chief of Staff, was instrumental in the removal of Dominic Cummings and was personally involved in gifting her best friend and lockdown babysitter, Nimco Ali, a consultancy job inside the Home Office which was said to pay £350 a day.
On reading the news of Oliver’s deposal, I knew things had got out of hand, so working with the Bow Group, the worlds oldest conservative think-tank I called for an urgent inquiry into the unchecked power Carrie has on the Government.
What angered me most was how Oliver was forced out. Now, if it were just an internal dispute between Downing Street staff or even with a Minister, I would have ignored it, but what drove me to start this year-long campaign for an inquiry was how obvious Carrie had carved herself an unconstitutional and unaccountable role in Government.
It was clear that Carrie had been acting more than just the Prime Minister’s private confidante. It seemed her role in Government was like that of a Chief of Staff, involved in policymaking and the hiring and firing of staff. Still, unlike ministers, advisers, or civil servants, as the partner of the Prime Minister, a code of conduct does not bind her. You cannot make an official complaint about her, and she cannot be sacked.
What followed was columnists writing that I demonstrated nothing short of sexism and misogynism in my call for an investigation. Even though my name was dragged through the mud by the Government’s media operation, my intervention was the first domino to fall.
Over the last year, at least 20 other alleged wrongdoings by Carrie have been reported. This includes the parties, most notable the 20 May garden party, the 13 November party in the flat above Downing Street, and of course, Boris’ birthday celebrations which Carrie and the wallpaper designer, Lulu Lytle, ambushed the Prime Minister and Chancellor of the Exchequer, inside the Cabinet Room, during the lockdown, with cake.
It is more than just the parties; it’s a fact Carrie has seemingly surrounded the Prime Minister with her friends by having them appointed to the most senior roles inside Downing Street and the Cabinet Office. This has ensured she has inference across Government policy.
Carrie’s involvement is no more apparent in the case of Pen Farthing. Pen’s charity has confirmed Carrie was instrumental in authorising the evacuation of the 173 stray cats and dogs, while at the same time, over a thousand Afghans who worked with British forces on the ground were left behind. Subsequently, a number of those Afghans have been executed by the Taliban.
There is undoubtedly a murky line between external influences and Carrie. No more so when it involves the roles of private donors who have paid for Carrie and Boris’ exclusive Caribbean holiday, their £12,500 annual luxury food parcels and yes, the wallpaper.
From the parties to the hiring of staff to the deaths of left behind Afghans, Carrie’s actions are unaccountable. As the Lord Ashcroft has recently found out, if you question Carrie’s role in Government, Cabinet Ministers such as Sajid Javid will go on television to label you a sexist and even claim criticism of Carrie should be off-limits.
Not only should we be free to criticise the actions of Carrie without being called a sexist, but we urgently need an inquiry to uncover her full involvement and the ramifications of her actions. We can not have another year of scandals and skulduggery.