Boris Johnson ‘would be first to move girlfriend into No.10’
London: Boris Johnson is planning to move his girlfriend Carrie Symonds into Downing Street with him should he win the Tory leadership contest, despite a row that led to police being called, sources say.
Friends of Johnson are insisting nothing has changed in the couple's relationship after they were recorded by neighbours arguing loudly.
Boris Johnson, one of the two final candidates for Britain’s Conservative Party leadership.Credit:AP
They said Johnson still plans to marry Symonds when his divorce to his second wife Marina Wheeler is finalised. Rumours had been circulating that Johnson and his partner had split and that their partnership was floundering even before the bust-up in early on Friday morning.
One source suggested Johnson was sleeping on the sofa and that explains why Miss Symonds, a former Conservative Party director of communications, was so upset when wine was spilt on it. But yesterday, Johnson's camp was adamant the row was nothing more than a typical contretemps.
A source said: "The couple intend to live together in No.10 if he is elected Tory leader and to marry after his divorce is finalised."
If Johnson does secure the leadership, and Symonds sticks with him, she would become the first girlfriend to move into Downing Street with an unmarried prime minister, becoming his official escort. The last, and only, time a prime minister has divorced and then remarried in office was the Duke of Grafton, who held the reins of power from 1768 to 1770.
Johnson is finalising his divorce from Wheeler, a barrister, after they announced last September that they were separating. Johnson left the family home in Islington and eventually moved in with Symonds.
Over the weekend Symonds, who has left her flat in Camberwell and gone into hiding, "liked" a message posted on Twitter that encouraged her to "please carry on" because the British public "must have entertainment at No.10", suggesting she still had her eye on relocating to Downing Street, assuming Johnson beats rival Jeremy Hunt in a vote of party members.
Confusion reigned however when Symonds subsequently removed her "like" from the tweet.
Symonds, 31, is reported by friends to be too scared to return to her two-bedroom flat in south-east London. Yesterday veteran activists from Class War arrived at the flat to stage a protest against Johnson, 55, the front-runner in the leadership race. They demanded Johnson stay away from the neighbourhood in Camberwell.
Symonds will find it awkward to return after posters were put up in the road attacking the former foreign secretary and on discovering that her neighbours had recorded their row.
A friend of Symonds told the Mail on Sunday: "Carrie really doesn't feel safe in her own home anymore with anti-Boris leaflets and posters stuck up on the road, hand-delivered hate mail and her private conversations being taped through the walls."
Johnson now has taxpayer funded police protection for the duration of his campaign for No 10. The arrangement started on Friday, just hours after police were called to Symonds' home. Sources said it was not linked to the row but to the fact that private protection officers would have been assigned to whoever had come in the top two in the vote by Conservative MPs. Jeremy Hunt, Johnson's rival for the job, already has police protection in his role as Foreign Secretary.
Neither Johnson nor Symonds have been seen at the flat since the altercation and it is unclear where Symonds is hiding.
Johnson's team had always intended that Symonds stay away from the hustings around the country for party members and she will not make any public appearances this week, said sources. Another source said her attendance at his campaign launch earlier this month was a "one-off".
Tom Penn and Eve Leigh, the neighbours who had recorded the row between Johnson and Symonds, last night stood by their decision to call police and – when officers decided to take no further action – to contact The Guardian.
In a statement, Penn insisted he made the recording from their own flat rather than in a communal hallway, as claimed by one Sunday newspaper yesterday. He said the row "was loud enough and angry enough that I felt frightened and concerned for the welfare of those involved, so I went inside my own home, closed the door, and pressed record on the voice memos app on my phone".
Symonds was heard shouting, "Get off me" and "get out of my flat", and complained Johnson had ruined her sofa by spilling red wine on it. She then shouted at him: "You just don't care for anything because you are spoilt."
The incident continued to dominate newspaper headlines Sunday. Hunt, said Johnson should not "shy away" from questions.
"I'm not going to comment on Boris' personal life … But what Boris needs to do is to engage properly in this leadership debate," Hunt told Sky News.
"This is an audition to be the prime minister of the United Kingdom, and Boris needs to show that he's prepared to answer difficult questions," Hunt said.
The Telegraph, London, with wires
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