Dominic Cummings and the ‘obsession’ with Carrie Johnson

Boris Johnson wanted to get partner a job with ‘lots of foreign travel’, claims former aide

The Johnsons at the G7 summit in Cornwall in June
The Johnsons at the G7 summit in Cornwall in June
(Image credit: Peter Nicholls/WPA Pool/Getty Images)

Dominic Cummings has “launched another broadside” against Boris Johnson’s wife, Carrie, this week, claiming the prime minister moaned that she was driving him “crackers”, reports The Times.

The former No. 10 adviser has said his old boss is “trapped” in his relationship and once confided that he wanted to get his partner a job “with lots of foreign travel”.

Cummings’ comments “are the latest in a string of claims he has made against Johnson’s wife, who was instrumental in his ousting”, says The Times. Others say he is “obsessed” with the woman he accuses of wanting to “pull the strings” in Downing Street. So how did it all start?

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The beginnings of war

In February 2020, the Daily Mail reported that the PM’s partner and chief adviser were “at war” over a Cabinet reshuffle.

Treasury sources told the newspaper that Symonds, then Carrie’s surname, was backing ministers who feared Cummings’ “aggressive approach” towards members of government, officials and journalists was damaging the PM.

One insider told the Mail: “There was always a risk that Carrie and Dom were going to fall out and that the PM would get caught in the crossfire.”

The “rift has been fuelled” by reports that Cummings wanted Johnson to fire two ministers with whom Symonds has close ties, said the paper.

Nine months later, Cummings left Downing Street. The Daily Mirror claimed Johnson “flipped” after text messages suggested that his closest aide had called his fiancee “Princess Nut Nut”, a nickname denied by Cummings.

‘Obsessed bully’

By April 2021, The Sun was reporting that friends of Symonds were “convinced former No10 aide Mr Cummings is behind a campaign to undermine her”. One friend called him an “obsessed bully”.

The following month, Cummings gave evidence to MPs in which he said Symonds was “going completely crackers” over a newspaper story about her dog, Dilyn, and confirmed that his resignation was “definitely connected” to the fact that she was trying to “appoint her friends to particular jobs” in No. 10.

The former adviser came across as a “15-year-old who had been wounded by his best mate’s decision to listen to his new bird instead of his oldest mate”, offering the tabloid press the “ability to paint Symonds as Lady Macbeth”, wrote Bryony Gordon in The Telegraph at the time.

The truly “crackers” thing about the story was that “the rank misogyny displayed by Cummings this week is apparently so normal that it has passed us by almost completely unchecked”, she added.

A victory for Mrs Johnson?

Three days after Cummings’ appearance in front of the parliamentary committees, Symonds reclaimed the news agenda as she became Mrs Johnson at a secret wedding ceremony in Westminster Cathedral.

“Friends of the bride said the wedding marked a victory against Dominic Cummings and the inner circle of Johnson’s former chief adviser,” wrote The Times.

But this didn’t put an end to the briefings war.

Latest broadside

Cummings’ latest claims come in an interview with Lynn Barber for The Spectator this week, in which he says he had a “hunch” Symonds was a “wrong ’un” from the day he first met her in 2016, and expands on the Dilyn dog incident.

He recalls a meeting in Downing Street where the PM asked him if he had leaked a story about Dilyn urinating in their flat. “We sat on the sofa and he started reading out questions from his phone and I said, ‘Have you lost your mind? Your crazy girlfriend is sitting upstairs texting you questions?’

“And he was like, ‘Omigod, you’re right, she’s driving me crackers. We’ve got to find her a job with lots of foreign travel. Could we get the cabinet secretary to give her a job on COP26, travelling round with Kate Middleton?’ That’s the weird thing: part of his brain knows that his girlfriend is crackers, but he’s also trapped.”

A No. 10 source said simply: “These claims are untrue.”

The publication of the interview comes just days after the Johnsons announced that they were expecting another baby, following a miscarriage earlier this year. “I feel incredibly blessed to be pregnant again but I've also felt like a bag of nerves,” Carrie wrote on Instagram at the weekend.

After interviewing Cummings in his home, Barber writes in The Spectator: “Carrie will always count as a crazy girlfriend to Dom, despite the fact that she is now Boris’s wife and mother of his son, with another baby on the way.”

She concludes: “Obviously, he misses No. 10, he misses being in the thick of it, he misses Boris – where did their love go? He denies it, of course, but his eagerness to talk about it and his endless online posts show that he is still obsessed.”

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