Of course it is sexist to blame the woman. But, in the case of Carrie Johnson, it cannot be said that she has helped her husband’s cause all that much. Looking back on the scandals that engulfed his government, she was often heavily involved in them, even if she disliked people pointing that out.
The gold wallpaper, the dogs being prioritised over humans for evacuation from Afghanistan, the endless drama in No. 10 over partygate. With the Abba music, the broken swings, the wine poured everywhere, No. 10 often sounded more like the set of Love Island than the residence of the Prime Minister. Keeping up with the Johnsons has been both exhausting and riveting for the country.
If Carrie did offer her husband wise counsel, it has not been particularly clear where that has led. Perhaps she did and he just ignored it. It is telling that recently we have heard how in 2017 she questioned the appointment of Chris Pincher as a whip, advice which must have been dismissed. Carrie is known to care about LGBT rights and her experience with John Worboys, who used date rape drugs on women, may have led her to believe that sexual abuse of any form needed to be called out in Westminster. If, as the Mail reports this morning, she advised him that the jig was up and he finally listened, she should receive credit for that.
It’s worth remembering that Carrie is much younger than her husband and came into No. 10 not as his wife but as his girlfriend. They married in secret last year and are due to have a big wedding party at some point. The last few years must have been a very stressful time, particularly given their two young children were born during the PM’s premiership.
Carrie Johnson has not been an easy person to write about. This time last year, I was working on a piece for Harper’s magazine about her court and how it operates. Her allies, many of them journalists, can be vicious, particularly to other women. Her acolytes have been very loyal to her, although it will be interesting to see how they behave now. She will be criticised for what has happened. Perhaps that is unfair but like her husband, she is a political animal. She knew the world she was entering in to. Boris is ultimately culpable for his mistakes, but Carrie played her part, too.
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