IN a desperate attempt to get his campaign back on track after the weekend’s firestorm, Boris Johnson was pictured gazing into Carrie Symonds’ eyes in a Sussex garden.
It was too staged to be convincing, tacky rather than touching. They looked less like a serious political couple and more like a pair of Love Island contestants making up for the cameras to save themselves from eviction from the villa.
7 Boris and Carrie were spotted in the Sussex countryside for the first time since police were called to their flat on Friday night
Before last Friday’s high-decibel row at the south London home they share, Boris seemed to be cruising towards an easy victory in the battle to be the next Prime Minister.
His team had celebrated when Jeremy Hunt emerged from the ballot of MPs as his opponent in the final round, partly because the alternative of Michael Gove, with all his history of embittered rivalry with Boris, might have fuelled a new psychodrama in the contest.
Having been deprived of Gove’s incendiary challenge, Boris created a new psychodrama of his own through his tempestuous liaison with Carrie.
7 Leo McKinstry says Carrie and Boris are more akin to Love Island contestants than a series political couple
Spilt drinks, plate-smashing, shouting matches, tape recordings by hostile leftie neighbours and police intervention are all elements in this farce – not to mention the squalid state of Boris’ car, which recent pictures have shown plastered with parking tickets and filled with litter.
Some argue that none of this matters, that Boris’s private life is entirely his own business. After all, the Tory Party is electing a leader, not an archbishop. And Boris is a man of undoubted talent.
But such an argument is a tad unrealistic.
7 Boris’ car was littered with parking ticketsCredit: Ray Collins – The Sun
We need a dignified figure at the helm
The character and lifestyle of the next Prime Minister is a matter of huge public interest, especially at a time when the course of our national destiny is soon to be decided by the Government.
Our country needs a dignified figure at the helm, not someone who acts and looks like an irresponsible student.
With Brexit at a crucial stage, we require a premier who will exude reassurance, not cause embarrassment.
The purpose of the police in Downing Street is protection rather than the handling of domestic disputes.
A Prime Minister should have a stable home life, given the huge burdens of the job.
Endless rows could be a dangerous distraction from the task of governance.
A few premiers have had rackety existences.
When the amorous Lloyd George was asked in 1919 if he wanted to bring his wife to the post-war Paris peace conference, he replied, “Why would I bring a sandwich when I’m going to a banquet?”
But it has been far more common for successful Prime Ministers to have had strong marriages.
That was true of Winston Churchill, Clement Attlee and Margaret Thatcher, all of whose spouses were models of unobtrusive devotion.
7 Prime Ministers should have a reliable setup at home, given the pressures of the jobCredit: Getty – Contributor
Boris craves security – and the country needs it
The need for domestic contentment is especially powerful with Boris.
For all his affluence, he had a difficult upbringing because his mother suffered from mental health problems. This has fed his craving for security, despite his wanderings.
Before their marriage imploded, Boris’ estranged wife of 25 years, Marina Wheeler, used to provide that security as well as guidance.
“Marina was the best political adviser in the world to Boris”, said one friend, who added that Boris has been shattered by marital breakdown: “He is like a broken reed. The joy has gone out of him.”
7 Marina Wheeler used to provide Boris with guidanceCredit: Getty Images – Getty
It seems unlikely that Carrie Symonds will fill the void, not only because of their 24-year-age gap but also because of their mercurial relationship.
As The Sun revealed this morning, they’ve had four rows in six weeks.
At this crucial moment in his career and in the demanding environment of Downing Street, he needs tranquillity on the domestic front.
Boris is like Samson without his locks
Carrie’s defenders argue that she has been good influence on Boris, encouraging him to lose weight, have a neater haircut, have more stylish clothes, and show more interest in progressive issues like yoga and green politics.
But if she truly loved Boris for the man he is, why would she want to change him?
In fact, far from enhancing his stature, her efforts have diminished him. Thinner and less shaggy, he is shadow of his former self.
The essence of bumbling, endearing Boris has been lost, like Samson after he was shorn of his empowering locks by Delilah.
7 Carrie has been credited with Boris’ trimmer appearanceCredit: Darren Fletcher – The Sun
Is it a coincidence that, since he has been with Carrie, his old ebullience has evaporated?
On the present campaign trail, he seems hesitant and defensive as he shies away from the microphone. In the one debate he has so far attended, on the BBC last Tuesday, he gave a poor performance.We need the old Boris back
When Boris first became involved with this glamorous, passionate young woman, he might have thought he had won the jackpot. But now he is in danger of losing his shirt.
What makes his difficulties all the worse is that Jeremy Hunt, once airily dismissed for his lack of inspiration, has mounted a formidable challenge against him, cleverly exploiting the doubts about Boris’s strategy of avoiding the media.
One weekend opinion poll of the wider electorate put Hunt three points ahead.
Supported by the Tory faithful, Boris is still likely to win, despite his recent setbacks.
But to make sure, he must take two steps.
First, he has to drop his reticence and come out fighting. That means participating in debates, explaining his plans for Brexit and engaging with the public.
7 The pair at a ball last yearCredit: Darren Fletcher – The Sun
CommentTREVOR KAVANAGH BBC’s Boris Johnson coverage shows it’s an anti-Brexit propaganda machine CommentTHE SUN SAYS Labour need to listen to Caroline Flint and stop plotting to thwart Brexit CommentKARREN BRADY Boris Johnson’s girlfriend Carrie Symonds will get him the keys to No10 LORRAINE KELLY Criticising Charlie Dimmock for putting on weight is horribly unfair… she still looks great CommentKARREN BRADY People question Love Island but TV beauties are as insecure as the rest of us
We want to see the old, charismatic Boris, not the new timid version.
Second he needs to sort out his relationship with Carrie Symonds. That requires either a clean break now, or a genuine commitment to each other as a grown-up couple.
With Downing Street almost in his grasp, the time for infantile games is over.