Baby, marriage & fight for life – Boris Johnson has had an incredible year


EVEN by his standards, Boris Johnson has had an astonishing 13 months.

The Prime Minister has been hours away from death with Covid, fathered a child at the age of 56 and married his third wife, Carrie Symonds — 23 years his junior.

Boris and Carrie in Scotland with baby and dog last August

And all while navigating the nation through a pandemic and subsequent economic fallout.

Most people would want to escape the chaos, the discord and the turmoil, but Boris appears to run headfirst into it. It’s as if he is drawn to the drama.

This past week is a case in point. Yesterday, in almost complete secrecy, he married Carrie in front of less than 30 guests at the Lady Chapel in Westminster Cathedral. 

Even staff at Downing Street knew nothing about the nuptials until asked about it by a reporter from this newspaper.

Just 72 hours before, his political career appeared to be on the line as vengeful former special adviser Dominic Cummings laid bare the chaos of working inside No 10 during the most extraordinary time in modern history.

He savaged his former boss, claiming thousands of people died needlessly as a result of government mistakes and accusing the Prime Minister of being unfit for office.

Seemingly ­candid photographs then emerged of the couple holding hands and looking loved-up in 2019

For most, this would have been quite enough drama for one week. But not for Boris. 

Why not top it off with a wedding? So at around 1pm yesterday, Westminster Cathedral was cleared and he and his wife-to-be drifted quietly into the tiny Lady Chapel. 

There they got married before sneaking back to their Downing Street residence.

The Prime Minister’s white-knuckle, roller-coaster ride, which has seen a match, hatch and, very nearly, a dispatch, began just 18 months ago — and it is almost impossible to believe.

In December 2019, he swept into Downing Street with his Conservative Party winning a whopping 80-seat majority.

He then got engaged to Carrie on holiday in Mustique. 

The happy pair in their baby news pic last year

On February 29, 2020, it was announced that Carrie was expecting a baby.

Then, while hoping to nail down his promises on Brexit, Boris was faced with something no modern-day Prime Minister has had to deal with — a pandemic.

Life then ground to a halt in the most extraordinary fashion.

On March 23, he announced in a TV address to the nation a ­draconian lockdown, shutting shops, banning socialising and ordering everyone to stay at home.

Fourteen days later, after looking gaunt and struggling to breathe, he became the first world leader to be admitted to hospital with Covid.

People from both sides of the political divide wished him well as he fought for his life at St Thomas’ Hospital opposite the Commons. 

Covid-stricken Boris in April last year

For days, no one knew just how close to death he was, even his Cabinet colleagues.

But on April 12, he was finally released, 2st lighter and looking a shadow of the man who stormed the election just months before.

In an interview with this newspaper the following month, he revealed just how close he had come to his maker.

He said: “It was a tough old moment, I won’t deny it. They had a strategy to deal with a ‘death of Stalin’-type scenario. I was not in particularly brilliant shape and I was aware there were contingency plans in place.”

Doctors told him he needed weeks of recuperation.

But with the nation engulfed in a PPE crisis he was back at his desk on April 27. Was there time to get up to speed? No.

Our story on the PM’s intensive care battle

Just two days after resuming his duties, he was dashing back to hospital. This time, though, it was not for treatment or a check-up — but for the birth of son Wilfred Lawrie Nicholas Johnson. There was no paternity leave as he continued to attend Cobra meetings, Brexit talks and take Government press conferences.

In May, Boris and second wife Marina Wheeler were formally divorced. A Prime Minister had not been divorced in office since the Earl of Grafton in 1769.

The family had a holiday to Scotland, with Carrie, Boris and their newborn renting a cliff-side house and tent. But that had to be cut short as an exam crisis engulfed Westminster. As a second wave of the virus gripped the country, Boris then juggled baby bottles and late-night feeds with Brexit battles and crisis Covid meetings.

Even Christmas was clouded in chaos for the Prime Minister.

On December 19, after promising Brits would be given a break from Covid restrictions, he cancelled millions of plans by plunging the nation into another lockdown.

Then on Christmas Eve, he was back on our screens — delivering “tidings of great joy” and news of his post-Brexit trade agreement. His topsy-turvy year was topped off yesterday with the news he married Carrie in a secret Bank Holiday ceremony. 

Boris and Carrie celebrate the December 2019 election results

In doing so he became the first Prime Minister to marry while in office since Lord Liverpool in 1822 — almost 200 years ago.

Carrie and Boris first met when she worked on his campaign to be re-elected as London Mayor in 2012. But rumours began circulating in 2018 as news emerged of Boris’s separation from Marina, with whom he has four children.

On September 7, Marina and Boris, who married in 1993, issued a joint statement saying they had separated “some time ago”.

Boris and Carrie’s romance was confirmed in June 2019, when she appeared in public with him to support his Tory leadership bid.

During the campaign, police were called to the two-bedroom flat Carrie then shared with Boris in Camberwell, South London.

A neighbour was said to have dialled 999 after hearing shouting from the property. Seemingly ­candid photographs then emerged of the couple holding hands and looking loved-up — ending speculation that their relationship had hit the rocks, although there were claims the pics had been staged. 

A month later, Carrie moved in with Boris — becoming the first unmarried partner of a PM to live in Downing Street.

After such an tumultuous period, yesterday’s ceremony almost seems appropriate. A wedding planned months in advance, with invites, orders of service and head of state guests would have been far too conventional for this Prime Minister — a magnet to madness.