Commons Confidential: Johnson’s ex unburdened

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Marina Wheeler is, perhaps, more than anyone else, including screaming lover Carrie Symonds and repulsed cabinet ministers, in a position to stop her husband Boris Johnson reaching Downing Street. The lawyer and mother of four of the egomaniac’s children keeps a dignified silence yet the talk of Whitehall is a meeting she attended recently in a government department. Scheduled for an hour, it lasted several, as, whispers my snout, Johnson’s long-suffering and soon-to-be-second former wife “unburdened herself” about life with a raving self-obsessive running for No 10 on his personality. If only she’d go public.


If Jeremy Hunt is beaten the whisper from Johnson’s camp is that the blond bumbler’s enforcer, Gavin Williamson, seeks as prizes the Tory party chairmanship and the head of Cabinet Secretary Mark Sedwill – though he’s graciously prepared for his Huawei nemesis to remain as national security adviser. The Francis Urquhart figure that is Williamson doesn’t forgive or forget. Nor does Sedwill. This would be a fight to the death.

Moneybags Brextremist Nigel Farage’s “man of the people” shtick left a bad taste at the See-Ho hostelry in Shorne on Kent’s north coast. My snout growled that the boozy Brexiteer and chums ran up a £200 bill then paid without leaving a tip. Farage is a £90,000-a-year MEP who recently banked £400,000 from other sources and is under investigation over sugar daddy Arron Banks’s £450,000 funding of a Chelsea home and a chauffeur-driven car. Perhaps Farage still thinks he’s “skint”, as he once claimed.

Boris Johnson is good business for right-whinge political strategist Lynton Crosby, so the Lizard of Oz plots to install the serial liar in No 10 from a dedicated room in his corporate lair. His numerous photographs of deflating windbag Johnson invite comparison with the Alan Partridge shrine created by a crazed fan of the radio presenter. Steve Coogan’s misfit is fictional but gruesome Johnson is terrifyingly real.

There’s fevered hope at the top of the Lib Dems that Tory ex-minister Phillip Lee, facing deselection in Bracknell over his European views, may be persuaded to switch parties. The talk is that one-time blues Heidi Allen and Sarah Wollaston are close to following Chuka Umunna from the post-Change wilderness into the yellow peril. Vince Cable must be replaced in Twickenham by a woman, so the speculation is that Richmond Park, where Boris Johnson’s
Old Etonian Brextremist chum Zac Goldsmith trembles on a wafer-thin majority of 45, will be offered to Umunna, with Sarah Olney jumping to Twickers.

Kevin Maguire is the associate editor (politics) of the Daily Mirror

Kevin Maguire is Associate Editor (Politics) on the Daily Mirror and author of our Commons Confidential column on the high politics and low life in Westminster. An award-winning journalist, he is in frequent demand on television and radio and co-authored a book on great parliamentary scandals. He was formerly Chief Reporter on the Guardian and Labour Correspondent on the Daily Telegraph.

This article appears in the 28 June 2019 issue of the New Statesman, Restraining order