Boris Johnson’s girlfriend Carrie Symonds will be the first female partner of a Prime Minister for 22 years who doesn’t have a taxpayer-funded office in Downing Street
- Carrie Symonds will not have a publicly-funded office in Downing Street
- First other-half to a Prime Minister since Norma Major to not take up the offer
- Concerns that it would become an issue as Symonds and Johnson are not married while he finalises divorce to his wife
Carrie Symonds will be the first female prime ministerial consort since Norma Major not to have her own taxpayer-funded office in Downing Street.
Samantha Cameron, Cherie Blair and Gordon Brown’s wife Sarah all had their own full-time No 10 staff to help organise their diaries, host charity events and handle media and other inquiries.
But Miss Symonds will have no such publicly funded assistance. Nor are there any current plans for her to host charity events at No 10.
Confirming the decision, a Downing Street spokesman said last night: ‘There will be no additional cost to the political purse as a result of Miss Symonds living in No 10.’
Carrie Symonds will have no publicly funded office after moving into Downing Street with her boyfriend Boris Johnson. Nor are there any current plans for her to host charity events at No 10
The bald statement is the first insight into the delicate Whitehall protocol issues arising from Miss Symonds’ status as the girlfriend of Prime Minister Boris Johnson – who is still married to second wife Marina Wheeler, mother of four of his children.
It is bound to lead some to suggest that she cannot be a fully fledged Downing Street ‘First Lady’ until she marries Mr Johnson.
In recent weeks there have been reports that Miss Symonds – who has strong views on everything from Brexit to animal rights and is very active on social media – would have similar Downing Street support as Samantha, Cherie and Sarah.
But the Daily Mail understands that some of Mr Johnson’s advisers and Whitehall officials believed it would be ‘inappropriate’ for her to benefit directly from taxpayers’ cash before they are married.
It can also be argued that having spent several years as a Tory party press officer, Miss Symonds is in less need of such specialist advice.
No 10 denied the decision was linked to Miss Symonds and Mr Johnson not being married, but declined to say why the decision was taken and by whom.
A bright yellow removals van was seen arriving at Downing Street as former Prime Minster Theresa May and former Chancellor Philip Hammond have their belongings packed up and taken away over the weekend before Miss Symonds and Mr Johnson can move in
The last female consort of a prime minister to have no such support was Norma Major, wife of 1990s premier Sir John Major.
Self-effacing Lady Major kept a low public profile, did not like staying in the No 10 flat and preferred to live at the couple’s country home.
Miss Symonds and Mr Johnson are expected to move into the Downing Street flat in the next week or so after Theresa May finishes packing her bags.
After applauding Mr Johnson from a few feet away as he walked into No 10 alone on Wednesday, Miss Symonds joined him inside – entering via another door away from the cameras.
Ms Symonds will be the first female prime ministerial consort since Norma Major not to have her own taxpayer-funded office in Downing Street
Ever since she started dating Mr Johnson, her friends have affectionately called her ‘FLOTUS’ – the acronym for Melania Trump, First Lady of the US. Mrs Cameron employed public relations executive Isabel Spearman as an adviser on a £60,000 salary, covered largely by taxpayers.
She was unofficially called Mrs Cameron’s ‘chief of staff’, though her duties included acting as a ‘stylist’ in charge of Mrs Cameron’s wardrobe and image. Miss Spearman ran everything from her busy diary to handling correspondence and organising official events.
Mrs Cameron hosted regular Downing Street receptions for volunteers, patronised several charities, and was also an ambassador for the British Fashion Council.
David Cameron was accused of cronyism when Miss Spearnan was handed an OBE in his resignation honours in 2016.
Mrs Cameron is not the only No 10 spouse to have had her own staff paid for by the public purse. Gordon Brown’s wife Sarah reportedly had three Downing Street advisers.
Mrs Blair employed Fiona Millar, partner of Tony Blair’s press secretary Alastair Campbell, to run her Downing Street office.
Officially called No 10 ‘head of events’, Miss Millar would organise Mrs Blair’s charity work, speeches, teas with children at Downing Street and her role alongside Mr Blair as his consort on trips abroad.
Mrs May’s husband Philip has kept out of the public eye and had no official Downing Street support.
Publicly funded support for British prime ministerial spouses pales into insignificance compared to that provided to US First Ladies. Mrs Trump and Michelle Obama have benefited from as many as 20 White House aides each.