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World Concern grows over government role of Boris Johnson’s fiancee

20:36  23 february  2021
20:36  23 february  2021 Source:   washingtonexaminer.com

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A conservative think tank in Britain is calling for an investigation into the role of Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s fiancee, Carrie Symonds.

Boris Johnson standing in front of a building © Provided by Washington Examiner

The Bow Group, which has strong ties to "the Tories," wants the government to clarify Symonds’s input in government policy and her possible influence on the prime minister. The concerns follow reports that Symonds's silent role is even comparable to that of Johnson's former chief adviser and Brexit figurehead, Dominic Cummings. To put this in a Washington context, think Karl Rove to George W. Bush, Valerie Jarrett to Barack Obama, or Jared Kushner to Donald Trump.

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A 32-year-old political activist, Symonds became engaged to Johnson in 2019 and is the mother of his most recent child. In 2010, she worked on Johnson’s campaign to be reelected as the mayor of London and later became the Conservative Party’s communications chief. Symonds no longer holds an official role within the party, and Downing Street says that "she is on maternity leave, she’s raising their son Wilf."

The question, then, is whether Symonds is someone with a cunning political agenda, who cannot be held accountable because of her relationship with the prime minister, or if Symonds is just a young, intelligent woman who is easier to blame for Johnson’s mistakes. There is a case for both arguments.

Top members of the Conservative Party have repeatedly been criticized for a history of cronyism, appointing friends and associates to positions of authority without relevant real qualifications or authority. This does not sit well with the public, which sees cronyism as an extension of the worst elements of British class culture. But it bears at least passing note with Symonds, who has had two friends given jobs as No. 10 Downing Street advisers. Still, Johnson is known for relying heavily on his advisers, and anyone close to him in No. 10 is bound to hold some degree of influence.

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The Bow Group has now requested details of any meetings Symonds has attended during Johnson’s premiership, as well as the demands she has given to special advisers and civil servants. Ben Harris-Quinney, the chairman of the think tank, says that "Symonds currently holds no official role in the Conservative Party or the government, yet consistent reports in the press suggest that [she] is taking a central role in running the country, without any authority or accountability to do so." Harris-Quinney continues, "She has not been elected, she has not been appointed, she holds no legal or constitutional powers to make decisions relating to who should hold government posts." This reference to "government posts" may refer to Cummings, who Symonds was rumored to dislike and who abruptly resigned in November.

Symonds is set to take on a high-ranking role at an animal charity after her maternity leave. That would mean any future influence on government policy occurs on her own time. But the point remains.

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For good or bad, if there is one thing that Johnson is known for, it’s for not playing by the rules. Whether any investigation will take place, and whether the results of said investigation would alter the way Downing Street is run, is another matter.

Nikki Peach is a freelance journalist based in London. She recently graduated from City, University of London with an M.A. in broadcast journalism and writes about culture and current affairs.

Tags: Opinion, Beltway Confidential, Blog Contributors, Britain, Boris Johnson, Conservative Party, Foreign Policy

Original Author: Nikki Peach

Original Location: Concern grows over government role of Boris Johnson’s fiancee

An artist honors icons by creating Black History Month-themed playing cards .
Kearra Johnson was in her senior year at the University of Missouri when she came up with the concept for what is now known as the Revolution Card Deck -- a deck of playing cards featuring the names and faces of notable Black individuals. © Kearra Johnson Michelle Obama, Thurgood Marshall and Oprah Winfrey are just a few of the figures who appear in a set of cards. "It's dedicated to the dreamers -- to all of the African American individuals before us who paved the way," Johnson told CNN.

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This is interesting!