Boris Johnson's father, Stanley, beat the Prime Minister's mother in a domestic violence incident that broke her nose and left her for hospital treatment. This has resulted in an explosive new book.
The amazing reveal is part of a series of revelations in The Gambler, an important Mr Johnson biography by renowned investigative writer Tom Bower, which is published on The Mail starting today.
Mr. Bower describes Stanley's first marriage to Mr. Johnson's mother, Charlotte, as violent and unhappy and quoted her as saying, “He broke my nose. He made me feel like I deserved it. "
Charlotte told the author, "I want the truth to be told."
Last night, family friends confirmed the newspaper's story but insisted the incident was a one-off.
The friends said it happened in the 1970s when Charlotte had obsessive-compulsive disorder and "hit" Stanley, who broke his nose while "kicking back".
Father Stanley and mother Charlotte. Boris, center, is pictured with his brother and sisters in their seventies. Mr. Bower describes Stanley's first marriage to Mr. Johnson's mother, Charlotte, as violent and unhappy and quoted her as saying, “He broke my nose. He made me feel like I deserved it. "
Boris with Carrie Symonds in March. After several humiliating exposés about Boris' adultery, Marina Wheeler had tried to mend their relationship, but those efforts had been dashed by his recent affair with Carrie Symonds, 30-year-old Tory communications chief
They added that Stanley, now 80, deeply regretted the incident that resulted in Charlotte's being hospitalized and denied having been violent on any other occasion.
Mr Bower says this secret, and the troubled relationship between Boris' parents, defined the Prime Minister as a man.
Scourge of the rich and famous
Royal Biographer Tom Bower
Dubbed "the most effective journalistic truth of his generation," Tom Bower is admired for his investigative books that forever change the way we perceive the rich and powerful.
From Tony Blair to Richard Branson, Mohamed Al Fayed to Prince Charles, the forensically researched "warts-and-everything" biographies of the former BBC Panorama reporter are defiantly unauthorized.
Often times they have taken Bower to court to successfully defend the truth, while crooked publisher Robert Maxwell tried to intimidate the author by putting private detectives on him.
Bower, 74, says: "The immorality of the rich and powerful has always fascinated and appalled me."
He writes: "Boris tormented himself about his mother's fate … he didn't want to confide in others about his father's violence and became a loner.
"In order to hide the misery and pain, he called for attention … But Boris' bravery masked deep misery."
Charlotte's detonation of Johnson's long-held family secret is part of a series of revelations from Mr Bower that is closer to explaining Boris' complex psychology than any previous work.
Based on interviews with hundreds of colleagues and family members, including Boris' mother and his first wife, the book invites the Prime Minister to compassion by painting a portrait of a boy who turned into a loner in his own right when he did Fought against his parents with desperation & # 39; divorce and his wild childhood.
After this account, Boris grew up unable to develop close relationships with men who were so searching for women as his soulmates, which explains his notoriously productive love life, in which he ruthlessly poured out his heart to lovers in poetry and letters and even threatened suicide to discourage women, to leave him.
The book also describes Boris & # 39; s intense desire to become Prime Minister by taking advantage of his old Etonian, David Cameron, and wrestling with George Osborne in what constitutes the transfer of the infamous antics of Oxford University's Bullingdon Club to high command the Tory is depicted.
It records Boris & # 39; s search for souls about Brexit, the victorious election campaign and his subsequent march on Downing Street after the political swamp of Theresa May's government, as well as the "terrorist demands" that chief assistant Dominic Cummings made before joining No. 10 had asked.
The drama of the Covid pandemic is also described, introducing Boris as Prime Minister panicked by overcautious scientists.
Any political development is underpinned by the background of a constant, exhausting emotional drama in his private life. However, Mr Bower comes to the positive conclusion that as Prime Minister he still has the opportunity and the desire to make a fundamental difference in people's lives.
When Stanley was asked about the contents of Bower's book by The Mail outside his home in north London yesterday Sunday, Stanley said, "I haven't read it. I don't want to comment."
Then he drove off on his bike.
No. 10 also declined to comment.
Boris Johnson is pictured with his mother Charlotte at his book launch in 2014. They added that Stanley, now 80, deeply regretted the incident that resulted in Charlotte's being hospitalized and denied having been violent on any other occasion
& # 39; Stanley broke my nose. I felt I deserved it & # 39;: Boris Johnson's mom tells TOM BOWER how the family's deepest secret shared a lonely & # 39; Frozen Child & # 39; left behind.
by Tom Bower for The Mail Am Sonntag
As the staff served dinner in the wood-paneled dining room of the Checker, the tension was palpable in the air. The occasion was a family celebration hosted by Boris Johnson on the occasion of his father Stanley's 79th birthday in August 2019. Boris had become Prime Minister just a few weeks earlier, and his father was understandably proud to be entertained in that style.
But even Stanley's familiar bonhomie and the new Prime Minister's coziness couldn't hide the tense mood. At the moment when the famous Johnson clan should have been happy, the family's relationships splintered.
The Johnson family in Brussels in 1977. Rachel and Jo, Boris & # 39; s younger sister and brother, had both come to Checkers with their spouses and children. Leo, the fourth sibling, was on vacation in Greece
Just over a year earlier, when he stepped down as Secretary of State, Boris and his then-wife had left Marina Carlton Gardens, the minister's formal London residence, in separate cars. After 25 years of marriage, they had divorced.
After several humiliating exposés about Boris' adultery, Marina had tried to mend their relationship, but those efforts had been thwarted by his recent affair with Carrie Symonds, 30-year-old Tory communications chief. Too many lies, betrayals, confessions, and apologies have been offered over the years to make credible reparations.
"He's a ***. He's absolutely selfish. He destroyed the family," one of the Johnson clans had exclaimed.
Boris Johnson with his mother Charlotte. Only Boris '77 -year-old artist mother Charlotte was able to explain Boris' hostility towards his father Stanley. It reflected the intimate story of the Johnson family, which they have only now published
The raw emotions in the game were hardly hidden.
Rachel and Jo, Boris' younger sister and brother, had both come to Checkers with their spouses and children. Leo, the fourth sibling, was on vacation in Greece.
To Stanley's disappointment, Boris and Marina's four children – Lara (then 26), Milo (24), Cassia (22) and Theo (20) – had declined the invitation to the party.
Not only were they angry that their grandfather Carrie shook hands at a public meeting about the environment, but they also refused to speak to their father.
In addition, there was the long-lasting friction between Stanley's four older children and his second family – his daughter Julia (37) and his son Max (33). In the past few months, Stanley's second wife had spoken out against Boris and even banned him from visiting Nethercote, the family's farm on Exmoor, Somerset.
As always, Boris' enthusiasm and jokes hid his own feelings during the Checkers dinner.
Boris Johnson introduced himself as a young boy with his father Stanley. Marina blamed Stanley for the breakdown of their marriage and refused to speak to him. Like Boris & # 39; first wife, Allegra Mostyn-Owen, she said that Boris & # 39; Adultery reflected his father's habits
Secretly and untrustworthy, his accomplishment hid his vulnerability.
Any sadness about the absence of his children was lifted by his recent triumph. "It's all about Boris," many who worked with him would often claim.
But even to his family, this truism was just a mystery. Did anyone know, they wondered, the real Boris?
They agreed that he was a loner with few close friends. Among those few were Marina, his anchor and consigliere and the ghost at the feast. "Marina & # 39; s Magic" had held the Johnson clan together for years, especially more recently at family reunions.
Boris' infidelity to Marina had generated intense hostility towards him and deep compassion for her.
Marina blamed Stanley for the breakdown of their marriage and refused to speak to him. Like Boris & # 39; first wife, Allegra Mostyn-Owen, she said that Boris & # 39; Adultery reflected his father's habits. The same misfortune that Stanley had spread among his own children, Marina said, was repeated by Boris to his four children with her.
Stanley Johnson introduces himself to Carrie Symonds at an anti-whaling protest outside the Japanese Embassy in central London on Saturday January 26, 2019
Of course, the break in family ties, which was reinforced by their different views on Brexit, was kept under wraps. The Johnson’s public face, united by intelligence, charm and their striking blonde hair, was like a dynasty of closely related achievers.
The next morning Boris had expected everyone to stay at Checkers for Stanley's birthday dinner. Instead, Rachel and Jo had other long-term agreements and left. For those who stayed, her departure had been a little ungracious. Suddenly the celebrations had fallen silent.
A year later, by August 2020, the family tensions simmering at Checkers had erupted into an irreconcilable feud. After all, Stanley's older children had grown increasingly confused about their father's second marriage as they all questioned Boris' relationship with his fiancée Carrie.
As Boris struggled to protect 67 million Britons from the Covid-19 disaster, his own family, still heralded by many as an enviable model for love, laughter, and fame, fell into the shadows.
The question was whether the invisible collapse of the Johnson dynasty was a metaphor for Johnson's tenure.
Most importantly, there was the lingering complex dynamic between Boris and his father.
Throughout all of the media appearances over the years, the striking similarity of looks, mannerism, and joking tone shared by Stanley and Boris would suggest that the two men were closely related. However, during the Tory Party's leadership campaigns in 2019, few people noticed the cold looks Boris shot as he walked past his father and invariably stood in the front row. But even Allegra, who had claimed that her ex-husband's worst habits were inherited from his father, was unaware of the real cause of Boris & # 39; s deep anger at Stanley.
Throughout all of the media appearances over the years, the striking similarity of looks, mannerism, and joking tone shared by Stanley and Boris would suggest that the two men were closely related. Family pictured in the 1970s
Only Boris & # 39; 77 -year-old artist mother Charlotte could explain his hostility. It reflected the intimate story of the Johnson family that they have only now released.
20-year-old Charlotte Fawcett was overwhelmed by Stanley's energy, dynamism and intelligence and married him in 1963 while studying at Oxford University. Only years later would she realize that instead of a loving and deep friendship, she had fallen in love with a man who purposely minimized the seriousness of everything and mocked intimacy.
Their first child, Alexander Boris de Pfeffel, was born in June 1964. While his mother was finishing her English studies, the baby slept in a drawer in her college room.
At the end of the year, Charlotte was pregnant again and her relationship with Stanley changed.
During a series of bitter arguments, Stanley accused Charlotte of seeing too much of her friends. "He was annoyed that I took care of my friends," she recalls. Charlotte blamed Stanley's anger and continued her studies.
20-year-old Charlotte Fawcett was overwhelmed by Stanley's energy, dynamism and intelligence and married him in 1963 while studying at Oxford University
Their problems were buried after Stanley came to MI6 and began a training course that separated him and Charlotte during the week. She graduated in June 1965 and celebrated Boris leaving at eleven months.
He was 15 months old when Rachel was born, and the look on his face the first time he saw his sister was not happy. "When Boris got to the hospital to see Rachel in my arms," Charlotte recalls, "his look was shock, disbelief and fear."
In 1966 the family moved to the USA, where Stanley got a job at the World Bank. Boris turned out to be a moderate, smiling baby. He'd started reading at the age of three – in particular, he enjoyed a comic that told the story of an ancient civilization called the Trigan Empire. "That got him," says Charlotte, "and that gave him an idea." He said to me: "I want to be king of the world." ’
Stanley, who switched jobs to work for the Rockefeller Foundation in New York, missed these milestones. As a committed environmentalist, he flew around the world to improve the condition of countries affected by poverty. Visiting his young Connecticut family, he was the life and soul of every social gathering. But at home the humor disappeared.
In 1969 the family returned to Great Britain. With money tight, it was decided that Charlotte would live with her husband's family in Nethercote, Exmoor, as Stanley would be traveling the world on a scholarship program. On the eve of his departure there was another argument in front of the then five-year-old Boris – and by the way, he was already reading the editorial columns of the Daily Telegraph.
"Stanley was in a very bad mood," recalls Charlotte. "He was always screaming and angry." Without apology, Stanley drove from Nethercote on his next adventure.
Stanley Johnson joined Paul Bristow in Peterborough to promote the Conservative Party in Peterborough in 2019
Nearly 50 years later, Rachel wrote, “He is never happier than setting out to live with a remote tribe many thousands of miles away from loved ones. He cares much more about other animals than about his own family. "
To be left behind in Somerset was a punishment for Charlotte and, she believed, an opportunity for her husband to break the series. When asked many years later if he was "totally unfaithful" and "an amazing womanizer" as Charlotte thought, Stanley replied, "Total crap. Honestly."
Life in Nethercote was chaotic. As Boris neared school age, Charlotte and her children moved into a shabby, unheated house next to Stanley's parents, Johnny and Irene. With little money they were stranded. "There was no point in saying to Stanley," Give me a car, "explains Charlotte." He wouldn't. "
For Boris, disorder became a way of life. Trash was scattered around the house and, in later life, either thrown in the back of his car or out the window.
While Stanley was saving rainforests, his family was sick because Nethercotes water was contaminated by lead pipes. "We were all sick on the floor," says Charlotte. Boris worsened his illness and often cried out in pain from excruciating earache caused by eyelets and suffered from deafness for a long time.
The only constant male influence in his life was his paternal grandfather, Johnny. All the children loved him and proudly wore the special nicknames he gave them. Unlike Stanley, Johnny didn't hit the kids or criticize their looks.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson returns to 10 Downing Street after the weekly Cabinet meeting at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office on September 30th
Charlotte's lawyer father was also a kind influence. James Fawcett, a classic who won a Double First at Oxford, introduced his grandson to the cultures of ancient Greece and Rome. Boris was fascinated by the incessant competition between macho men who were driven by confidence. "It was a world," he later wrote, "that believed above all in winners and losers, in death and fame."
In the summer of 1970, Stanley returned to Nethercote and began teaching his children his values. Success, he believed, was generated through competition. He pitted his children against each other – with snooker, reading, math and table tennis. One day after Rachel hit Boris while playing table tennis, she watched her brother's anger: "He kicked the garage door so hard that he broke his toe." Once, after Rachel climbed up to a table to give a speech, said Boris with uncontrolled anger: pushed her away to make his own.
It was during this time that Charlotte Stanley confronted the matters she suspected were his. He denied it.
"Stanley wanted to be loved," she recalls, "and wanted sex and he wanted power." And when I contradicted it, it threatened his power. "Charlotte never thought of leaving:" I stayed because I loved him despite the tensions. "
Boris agonized over his mother's fate. Not only had he seen her suffer, but he had seen his father blatantly denying the truth.
He did not want to confide in others about his father's temperament and became a loner. In his solitude, his competitiveness was offset by self-doubt. To hide the misery and pain, he demanded attention.
Just as his father was purposely amusing friends and strangers to hide the wretched chaos in Nethercote, Boris took over his father's accomplishment. Rachel, his only confidante, did the same. Together they learned overwhelming resilience.
In 1972 Stanley, then 32, was offered a well-paid position as head of the pollution and nuisance prevention department at the newly established EEC headquarters in Brussels.
In this respectable social world, the family was reunited with Charles Wheeler, a BBC journalist they met in the United States and whose daughter Marina now became a friend of Boris and Rachel at the Brussels European School.
Johnson Sr.'s charm and humor were valued throughout the international community – although Stanley, they learned, was always about Stanley. "I can count the seconds," wrote Rachel in 2017 of meeting her father for lunch, "until he says," So what am I going to do … "
Boris mimicked Stanley, assuming that his life would always be about Boris. Like his father, he would entertain to get the laughs and become the leader. In fact, he adopted a motto that Stanley preached: "Nothing is very important and most things don't matter at all." And he might add, avoid apologizing. But everything was not all right under the laugh. Boris & # 39; bravery masked deep misfortune. His parents' marriage was irrevocably broken. Charlotte found the pressures of her husband's neglect and streaking overwhelming.
Ten year old Boris and nine year old Rachel became the keepers of their parents' secret. The family was safer when outsiders didn't know. Then, in 1974, the dam broke.
Charlotte was overwhelmed by severe depression and suffered a nervous breakdown. She was transferred from Brussels to Maudsley Hospital in south London, which specializes in mental health. She was isolated from her family for eight months and felt miserable. The circumstances were unusually difficult for their four children.
On a cloudy day 45 years later, in the fall of 2019, disabled by Parkinson's and other diseases, the accomplished artist, who now lives with a caregiver in a small but comfortable apartment on Notting Hill Gate in west London, announced that that the marriage was horrible, horrible. "In particular, Charlotte described the" difficult times "at Maudsley. "I want the truth to be told," she told me.
Over the years Stanley has asserted ignorance about the causes of his wife's depression. "I never got to the bottom of it," he said in 2019. "It was too complicated for me and a mystery."
Charlotte corrects Stanley's memory: “The doctors at Maudsley spoke to Stanley about his abuse of me. He hit me. "She remembers:" He broke my nose. He made me feel like I deserved it. "
Following the attack, Charlotte was treated at St. John & St. Elizabeth Hospital in northwest London. The children were told that a car door hit their mother's face. However, Boris knew the truth.
Charlotte's parents, who lived near the hospital, visited their daughter daily. "My parents confronted Stanley about this," she continued, "but he denied it."
Although Boris was only ten years old, Charlotte forensically discussed her marriage to him. She also realized that her son "admired his father's humor and shot".
Regarding Boris, who witnessed her suffering at Stanley's hands, she said, "That was terrible for the children."
Their stoic bravery and silence taught Boris never to reveal vindictiveness or to bear resentment. Most importantly, he has never talked about how his mother's suffering permanently affected his life, character, and personality.
While Charlotte was in the hospital, Stanley was in charge of his children. But most of the time he was away from her house in Brussels and left an au pair in charge.
The children were often expected to fend for themselves and even make the arrangements to travel from Brussels to London and visit their mother.
Rachel still refuses to blame Stanley today. "It was difficult for my father too," she wrote. "I can't pretend it's bleak, but he's done brilliantly to keep things going." He kept the show very busy. "
Boris verstand die Ursache für den Zustand seiner Mutter.
"Ich habe oft gedacht", sagte Charlotte später, "dass sein" Weltkönig "der Wunsch war, sich unverletzlich, unbesiegbar und irgendwie sicher vor den Schmerzen Ihrer Mutter zu machen, die acht Monate lang verschwunden waren." Die Lehre, die er aus dem Zeugnis gezogen hatte eheliche Zwietracht sollte offenkundige Konfrontation in seinem Leben vermeiden.
Charlotte ist sich sicher, dass ihr Leiden dem jungen Boris zum Opfer gefallen ist. Während der Vorbereitungsschule im Ashdown House in East Sussex wurde der Mutter die Umarmung und das Fehlen jeglicher Wärme zu Hause verweigert, und es gab ein großes emotionales Loch. Einige nannten das Ergebnis „das gefrorene Kind“.
Stanley hatte Boris versprochen, seine geliebte Mutter niemals zu verlassen. Aber im Sommer 1978, nach Boris 'erstem Jahr in Eton, erzählte Stanley seinen Kindern, dass er und Charlotte sich scheiden ließen.
"Warum hatten Sie uns?", Fragte Boris seinen Vater zusammen mit den drei anderen Kindern.
Stanley behauptete später, nicht zu verstehen, warum seine Ehe zusammenbrach oder ob seine Kinder litten, "weil ich sie nie gefragt habe". Charlotte machte ihren Freunden kein Geheimnis über ihren Grund, ein Ende zu fordern: "Ich konnte nicht bei ihm bleiben. Er war unzugänglich, um nicht ganz untreu zu sagen. "
Sie begann eine enge Freundschaft mit Nick Wahl, einem amerikanischen Akademiker, der in Paris lebte und zu dem sie regelmäßig pendelte. Ihre Kinder wurden gutartig vernachlässigt.
"Ich war verärgert, als sie sich trennten", war die Grenze von Boris 'Offenlegung über die Trennung seiner Eltern und fügte hinzu: "Es hatte einige Auswirkungen. Sie haben hervorragend damit umgegangen. “
In Wahrheit hat Stanleys Verhalten Boris verfolgt. "Mein Vater hat mir versprochen, dass sie sich nicht scheiden lassen", sagte er einer Freundin Jahre später, "und das konnte ich ihm nie verzeihen."
Rachel hat gesagt: „Wir wurden nach der Scheidung als Kinder verlassen. Wir mussten uns erziehen. Wir hatten kein Zuhause. "
Zurück in Eton – wo er nach de Pfeffel Pee-Pee genannt wurde – war Boris von Kindern der Aristokratie mit scheinbar unbegrenztem Reichtum umgeben, die ebenfalls schwierige Kindheiten erlitten hatten, darunter Prinzessin Dianas Bruder Charles Spencer.
"Wir waren Kinder von Vätern, die ihre Söhne im Stich gelassen und unruhige Jungen geschaffen haben", erinnerte sich ein früher Freund.
Affäre mit dem Au Pair
Es war die übliche Gewohnheit für Boris 'Eltern, im Sommer nackt in ihrem Haus und auf der Exmoor Farm herumzulaufen.
Sein Vater Stanley erzählte den beiden Au Pairs ihrer jungen Familie 1976, dass ein Wassermangel bedeutete, dass sie ihre Kleidung nicht waschen konnten, so dass auch sie keine tragen sollten.
Beide gaben nach und gingen nackt herum.
Stanley bestand auf zwei Au Pairs – und ging vor seinen Kindern eine Affäre mit einem ein.
Kommilitonen sagten, Boris sei 1983 nach Oxford gekommen, um das Kabinett im Alter von 35 Jahren zu erreichen. Mit dem Hunger eines Schaustellers nach Berühmtheit war die Oxford Union, die Debattiergesellschaft der Studenten, ein natürlicher Magnet für ihn. Schon damals erwähnten ihn einige als zukünftigen Premierminister.
Er war nicht der klügste, der einst von einem Tutor als "der schlechteste Gelehrte, den Eton uns jemals geschickt hat – ein Trottel und ein Faulenzer" beschrieben wurde. Aber er besaß eine magische Kombination aus Intelligenz, Witz, List und Exhibitionismus. Seine Schaustellung störte seine Mutter, als sie Nick Wahl besuchte. Unter dem Glanz ihres Sohnes sah sie, dass sein Kummer in der Kindheit über die Beziehung seiner Eltern anhielt.
Charlotte ignorierte das neue Glück seiner Mutter und Wahls Herzlichkeit gegenüber den Johnson-Kindern und bemerkte, wie Boris Nick hasste. Er sei "eifersüchtig auf Stanley". Er wollte, dass seine Eltern verheiratet waren. Boris 'Reaktion war primitiv. "
Boris brauchte einen Seelenverwandten, mit dem er von Herz zu Herz sprechen konnte. Das war bei Männern unmöglich. Nur eine Frau konnte jemals seine Vertraute sein. Seine Anforderungen änderten sich selten: gut aussehend, intelligent und raffiniert. On that scale, few exceeded the charismatic Allegra Mostyn-Owen, renowned as one of the university’s most beautiful women. The two formed a deep friendship, culminating, in the summer of 1986, in a proposal. Insecure, with a fear of homelessness, Boris fulfilled an ambition to ‘marry up’.
‘Boris’s game-plan,’ Allegra was convinced, ‘was influenced by what Stanley had done.’
His father had married a woman from a well-off family early in his life, and Boris, at 23, had decided to follow suit. Two hundred guests were invited to the wedding on September 5, 1987, at the Mostyn-Owens’ country seat in Shropshire. ‘It was a very happy wedding day,’ recalls Allegra, although her groom had lost his wedding ring and had to borrow a morning suit and cufflinks.
Her father had warned her: ‘He’s rapacious. What do you see in him?’ and within two years the relationship was, as Allegra puts it, ‘already creaking’.
In the summer of 1989, Boris, by now working as a correspondent for the Daily Telegraph in Brussels, flew with his wife to Sharm El Sheikh in Egypt for a holiday.
Distressed by the break-up of her own parents’ marriage, she needed Boris’s support. But he, flippant and emotionally superficial, was indifferent to his depressed wife. Lonely, self-doubting and locked in a competitive boys’ game, he never revealed to Allegra the pains of his own childhood.
The final straw came in February 1990 when she cooked dinner for him one evening in Brussels and he failed to return home. The following morning she bought the Daily Telegraph and read a report he had written from Zagreb. Without even phoning her, he had accepted the offer of a trip.
His refusal to be with her, she decided, was a blind spot he had inherited from Stanley: ‘An inability to take women seriously.’
Later, she reflected that Boris is ‘capable of a very bad temper, but he doesn’t hit out.’ Charlotte agreed: ‘His temper is his anger directed against himself.’
Loyally, Allegra adds: ‘He never lied. He just has his own attitude to the truth.’ Her former husband, she concluded, was three different personalities: Alexander, Al and Boris. ‘Boris is the public person, but did I meet Al, the private person, or Alexander, a mixture of the private and public person, or had I lived with Boris? I never knew.’
© Tom Bower
- Extracts from Boris Johnson The Gambler by Tom Bower, published by WH Allen, an imprint of Ebury Publishing, on October 15.
'My great-grandfather had four wives, why should I be faithful?': Boris Johnson's ex-wives say his womanising mirrors his father's – but biographer TOM BOWER says it's also driven by his constant search for a soul mate
by Tom Bower for The Mail On Sunday
In the aftermath of one of his affairs, Boris Johnson told a friend: ‘My great-grandfather had four wives. I don’t see why I should be faithful.’ His dislike of monogamy has long informed his relationships with women. ‘Boris’s adultery,’ says his mother, Charlotte, ‘is just like his father’s. The motives were lack of love for their wives, boredom, selfishness and insecurity.’
According to Boris’s first wife, Allegra Mostyn-Owen: ‘When we got married, that was the end of the relationship instead of the beginning.’ By the time he and Allegra divorced in 1993, the woman who would become his second wife, Marina Wheeler, was already pregnant. Grounded, happy, secure and intelligent, Marina provided the substance and emotional interpretation of his life that Boris required.
In her, he had found a soul mate. Unlike his instinctive rivalry with men, Boris trusted Marina, a childhood friend, not to cause him any harm. A month after their wedding in 1993, their daughter Lara Lettice was born.
Boris Johnson and wife Marina arrive at the Raisa Gorbachev Foundation Annual Fundraising Gala Dinner, at the Stud House, Hampton Court Palace on June 6, 2009 in Richmond upon Thames. Unlike his instinctive rivalry with men, Boris trusted Marina, a childhood friend, not to cause him any harm
Adding to the Johnson heritage of Muslim, Jewish and Christian ancestry, she was also part Indian through Marina.
As the couple’s young family then expanded, Boris left his EU correspondent job in Brussels and the couple bought a house in Islington, North London. However, he began to feel life at home had become too routine.
Marina, he later confided to one person, was no longer a woman much interested in a close relationship or spirited conversations. She was no longer the full-time, uncritical confidante he required. Too often, she told him the unpleasant truth.
Despite enjoying time with his children, he discovered that fame had attracted other women. He felt waning loyalty towards Marina. Convinced that their relationship was secure, his appetite fuelled him to risk a new challenge.
Mary Wakefield, a commissioning editor at The Spectator magazine, who would later marry Dominic Cummings, developed a crush on Boris, and he, it appeared, was swooning for Mary, ‘one of the loveliest people’, according to their colleague Rod Liddle.
Jeremy Deedes, a director of the Telegraph group which owned The Spectator, observed that ‘Mary was besotted with Boris. She was like a spaniel on heat. Boris was scratching his head, “What are we going to do?” he asked me.’
In a newspaper interview, Boris gave a hint about his reckless attitude to life. ‘I am a juggler,’ he said. ‘I can have it all.’
As London Mayor between 2008 and 2016, he appeared to exert a similar fascination over women. In 2009, he joined Marina at Westminster Abbey for a memorial service for her father, the distinguished BBC correspondent Charles Wheeler. To the packed congregation, they appeared united. Yet Boris was in the midst of an affair with Helen Macintyre, a 37-year-old art dealer.
Sparky, sexy and good company, Macintyre had admired him for years. Engaging with her, despite all the risks to his marriage and mayoralty, revealed the paradox of Boris. Although a loner, he craved company. Loneliness plunged him into a deep depression, relieved by a conversation with whoever happened to be his mistress at the time.
Christchurch Commen Ball in Oxford on June 26, 1987. As London Mayor between 2008 and 2016, he appeared to exert a similar fascination over women. In 2009, he joined Marina at Westminster Abbey for a memorial service for her father, the distinguished BBC correspondent Charles Wheeler
In 2010, after she gave birth to a girl, it was reported that Macintyre’s boyfriend, Canadian-born financier Pierre Rolin, left her after taking a DNA test.
Contrary to Macintyre’s assertion, Rolin discovered that he was not the father of the blonde-haired child.
‘I was completely snowballed. I think he has no moral compass,’ Rolin said about Boris. ‘He thinks he is completely entitled. One day the truth will catch up with him.’
On the girl’s birth certificate, Macintyre had omitted the father’s identity.
When Boris previously had a brief affair with Anna Fazackerly, 29, a Times Higher Education Supplement political journalist, Marina had decided that for the sake of their children she would accept his apology and move on. But after the Macintyre revelations, Marina ordered Boris out of the marital home and into a rented flat. ‘Kicked out of the house like a tom cat,’ said a friend.
From there, he ordered takeaway curries and, occasionally, when Marina was out, returned to the house to see his children.
Later, after Marina had forgiven him, he seemed immune to embarrassment. ‘I now see all these disasters are temporary. You can move on,’ he said, adding: ‘There are no disasters – only opportunities, and indeed opportunities for fresh disasters.’
In 2013, Macintyre lost a legal battle to keep the paternity of her child a secret. The Court of Appeal ruled that in the public interest the electorate was entitled to know the man’s identity. By then, Boris was regularly visiting his youngest daughter, encouraging her interest in music.
When considering Boris’s fitness for office, the judges decided: ‘It is fanciful to expect the public to forget the fact that… a major public figure had fathered a child after a brief adulterous affair (not for the first time).’
The judgment mentioned Boris’s responsibility for ‘two conceptions’. Many wrongly deduced that the judges meant there was another ‘unknown’ child fathered by him. In fact, the judges were simply referring to his child that his former mistress Petronella Wyatt had aborted. Nevertheless, since he refused to state how many children he had fathered, the hunt for the ‘unknown’ child continued.
Camilla's train attack revelation
When he was London Mayor, Boris was summoned by Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, to her London home, Clarence House.
Just as he was parking his bike, she appeared and grabbed his wrist. She said: ‘You and me, upstairs now.’
In the course of the next hour, she told Boris how she’d been assaulted on a train when she was 17.
‘I did what my mother told me. I took my shoe off and hit him in the nuts. And then I reported him to the police at Paddington,’ she said.
If Boris financed two rape centres, she promised, she would open them.
‘Oh God, what a woman!’ Boris told an aide later.
ON THE opening night of the Paralympics in 2012, no one spotted the London Mayor slipping away from the stadium to a flat in Shoreditch, East London. It was rented by a blonde 27-year-old Californian digital entrepreneur he had met the previous year. Intelligent and vivacious, her name was Jennifer Arcuri.
Arcuri had settled in London to make her fortune in the tech industry. With sassy humour, she flaunted her looks to ingratiate herself with anyone able to help her build Innotech, her fledging business that introduced aspiring entrepreneurs to policy-makers.
It was during a routine hunt for clients at a British Venture Capital Association reception in 2011 that she had stood among a group of expectant bankers.
‘What’s up?’ she asked.
‘We’re waiting for the Mayor,’ one banker replied.
‘Boris. If you stand right here he might notice you.’
In her words, ‘a chubby guy arrives with his shirt hanging out and I watched him turn that group of sweaty old men into something on speed. I walked right up to him and said, “You should come to speak to my group.”
“I will,” he said. “Email me.” ’
By March the following year, Arcuri’s business had grown and she needed official endorsement. When Boris was standing for his second term as Mayor, she talked her way on to his campaign bus and sat so close that the Mayor could not help seeing her.
‘She clearly targeted him,’ a Boris aide said later. To Arcuri’s delight, Boris turned every 30 seconds to look at her. ‘I realised he was interested,’ she recalls nearly a decade later. ‘I was flirtatious. I mentioned Shakespeare. I made him smile, intrigued him and got him to laugh. I had him hooked.’
At the end of the journey, Arcuri gave Boris her card. ‘No, no. I just want to contact you directly,’ he insisted. She gave him her phone number and soon afterwards he called. She filed his number under ‘Alexander the Great’.
About a month later, Arcuri faced a crisis. She had hired an expensive venue to host a presentation and her speaker had fallen through. ‘I used sex to get people to come to my events,’ Arcuri admits.
In search of a replacement speaker she called Boris, who agreed to step in. To her further delight, ‘whenever I called him, he would call me back’. Conveniently, her flat was on his cycle route from City Hall home to Islington.
Arcuri’s presence in Boris’s life could not be kept secret from his closest staff for long. Although he ‘swore blind’ to Marina after his affair with Helen Macintyre that he would be faithful, some could see that while he worshipped Marina as a soul mate, their relationship, they mistakenly speculated, had become strained. Emotionally weak, he would never leave Marina.
Among the first to have scented a problem had been Lynton Crosby, Boris’s political lobbyist. He had extracted a promise from Boris that he would not start an affair until after he stood for re-election as Mayor in May 2012. Thereafter, Crosby was unconcerned.
A year into their friendship, after Boris was re-elected, Arcuri had decided that he was not a womaniser but just after her because, as he said, ‘I feel so horny.’ Instinctive and sensitive, she saw a self-obsessed man for whom relationships were difficult. He lacked close male friends and relied on her, but only on conditions. Until he was certain of his emotions and could trust her, allowing anyone into his personal life was regarded by him as a weakness.
She saw him as an introvert, a depressive who enjoyed solitude, and someone who needed to be alone. Paradoxically, particularly on those days of his greatest public successes, he could decline into an intense depression.
‘Do you want to be Prime Minister?’ she once asked him.
‘I’m a very competitive person, so it’s natural,’ he replied.
Jennifer Arcuri’s presence in Boris’s (pictured together in 2013) life could not be kept secret from his closest staff for long. Although he ‘swore blind’ to Marina after his affair with Helen Macintyre that he would be faithful, some could see that while he worshipped Marina as a soul mate, their relationship, they mistakenly speculated, had become strained
In the autumn of 2014, Boris spoke at another of Arcuri’s events, meeting her afterwards at a hotel. Plodding around the room in his underwear, eating cheese, conscious about his looks and his need to lose weight, she felt a bond was being forged.
He was clearly attracted to her interest in power, conflict, intellectual strength, and especially in Shakespeare. Between his expressions of affection, he asked what he could do for her, and how he could make her happy.
Convinced that she wanted to see more of him, Arcuri arrived at a reception later that day to promote his book about Winston Churchill. She found him in a hotel room writing his speech. He spoke about his loneliness and need for her friendship.
That December, Boris hosted a Christmas staff party in City Hall. At 10pm he announced that he had to go to another event. His next stop was Arcuri’s flat. The American’s home had become his haven. As always, Boris trusted a woman as his confidante. First, he was able to talk about the stress of being in a position of authority in City Hall. And second, it was a sanctuary from the sadness in his own home. Marina, he said, was often away. Not only had she become distant, but he feared that his family life was withering.
The cure to his depression, he said, was Jennifer Arcuri. Although the moment he arrived at her flat he would say he couldn’t stay, her direct manner soothed him.
Cool and in command, she never pressured him. The chase was his. The dalliance appeared to have become his only real friendship.
Partly mother figure and partly lover, she claimed to understand his mind, and he felt safe in her company. In return, he expressed affection, but she could never be certain whether he was being truthful.
Boris had an affair with Helen Macintyre, a 37-year-old art dealer, pictured in 2011. Sparky, sexy and good company, Macintyre had admired him for years. Engaging with her, despite all the risks to his marriage and mayoralty, revealed the paradox of Boris. Although a loner, he craved company
Despite his ability to quote Shakespeare and Wordsworth, she was falling in love with an unromantic man. He could never love women in the way a woman wanted to be loved. ‘I fell in love. I never admitted how much I loved him,’ Arcuri said.
Whereas his texts were recklessly amorous, and his crazy propositions – such as setting up a ski centre in Bulgaria, or the two of them becoming a political team in New York – were the product of often being alone in the evenings, there was what some might judge to be a foolishness behind inviting her to his empty Islington home.
Despite being surrounded by family photos, he was already divorced from that life.
‘Will you hoist sail, sir? Here lies your way,’ he recited from Twelfth Night.
He no longer concealed the relationship from advisers in Conservative Central Office and City Hall.
With his help, Arcuri was invited to a party at Buckingham Palace celebrating technology. She had also received £15,000 from the international trade department to encourage foreign entrepreneurs to set up in Britain.
Boris’s departure from City Hall in 2016 coincided with Jennifer Arcuri’s exit from his life. Their last meeting was at his house. ‘I’ll see you later,’ she said stepping into the street, without revealing her decision to move on. Wanting a child, she had found her future husband and they moved to Cheshire. Soon pregnant, she decided there would be closure and blocked Boris’s calls.
His last text message was sent on December 29, 2018, two years after their last meeting. ‘I miss you and I need you,’ he’d write. She deleted the text.
© Tom Bower
- Extracts from Boris Johnson The Gambler by Tom Bower, Published by WH Allen, an imprint of Ebury Publishing, on October 15.
Boris Johnson's fling with Carrie would have ENDED if Marina Wheeler had not terminated their marriage, claims new biography which chronicles PM's relationship with fiancée – including memorable flat fight and row over Wilf's middle name
by Tom Bower for The Mail On Sunday
If Marina Wheeler had not terminated her marriage to Boris, his fling with Carrie Symonds would have ended abruptly. Instead, he became unintentionally close to a woman only five years older than his eldest daughter.
When their affair began in 2018, nobody on the Tory Party circuit could avoid Carrie, the then 29-year-old director of its communications team who regularly posted glamorous photos of herself on social media.
While some praised her sound judgment and loyalty, others in party headquarters described her as manipulative, volatile and aggressive, especially towards women. Some said she has a ‘polarising personality’ and had been appointed because of a close friendship with Zac Goldsmith.
In 2017, her long-term relationship with a journalist broke up and she began advising Boris. Moody, uncertain and insecure, he needed company and reassurance from yet another new trusted female confidante.
Carrie’s critics said that what started as a fling became, to match her ambition, a serious affair. Others said she filled a vacancy. Inevitably, Marina found out about the relationship. There were fierce arguments, but after making a full confession, Boris had hoped for forgiveness from his loyal soul mate.
Boris Johnson pictured with his fiance Carrie Symonds during a holiday to Scotland with their baby son Wilfred. Boris seems never to have considered the consequences of a permanent break-up with his wife, or that it would wreck his relationship with their children
Marina was emphatic. She couldn’t take his infidelity any more. She explicitly blamed his father, Stanley. All Boris’s worst qualities stemmed from that relationship. She refused to live with her husband any more.
Boris seems never to have considered the consequences of a permanent break-up with his wife, or that it would wreck his relationship with their children. Lara, their eldest daughter, told a friend: ‘He’s a selfish bastard. Mum is finished with him. She’ll never take him back now.’ Lara later posted on Instagram that this period was ‘the hardest and most hurtful year of my life’.
Under Carrie’s guidance, Boris began losing weight – off alcohol and late-night binges of cheese and chorizo. Their relationship had taken a course that was not intended by Boris.
In March 2019, despite the turmoil just days before Brexit was scheduled to take place, Boris took Carrie for a long weekend to Positano, Italy, to celebrate her 31st birthday. Some feared that political priorities were being forsaken to satisfy Carrie’s wishes.
On June 21, it was reported that Boris and Carrie had been embroiled in a ferocious argument in her South London flat, and that the police had been called. Carrie is pictured in 2019
On June 21, it was reported that Boris and Carrie had been embroiled in a ferocious argument in her South London flat, and that the police had been called. It was claimed that Carrie was screaming that Boris had spilled red wine on her sofa. ‘You just don’t care for anything because you’re spoilt,’ she was reported to have said.
Then Boris is said to have shouted: ‘Get off my f****** laptop!’ followed by a loud crashing noise of glasses or plates. Carrie then allegedly shouted: ‘Get off me!’ and ‘Get out of my flat!’
Carrie denied saying ‘Get off me’ and other things she was quoted as saying. But no one disputed there had been an argument, fuelling intense speculation about the cause.
Some said Carrie was furious that Boris had returned late from seeing Marina, who at the time was recovering from cervical cancer treatment.
Others claimed Carrie was angry that former mistress Petronella Wyatt had texted Boris, mocking Carrie’s ‘undignified half-naked’ performance on top of a car (she had posted a fun photo of herself on Instagram), and saying ‘she needs her teeth fixed’.
There were claims that he was looking at photos of Jennifer Arcuri. The truth was that Carrie, in an emotional outburst, was upset by Boris spilling a glass of red wine on her sofa: a domestic tiff.
Little over a month later, Boris became Prime Minister. No PM had ever lived in Downing Street with an unmarried partner. It was whispered that Boris missed Marina and that his affair with Carrie was no more than a fling, and not a life choice.
In February, a High Court judge approved the financial agreement Boris had reached with Marina. A divorce could rapidly follow.
The announcement disappointed friends who had speculated how Boris pined for his wife and hoped for a reconciliation. In their opinion, Boris had depended on Marina’s wisdom and stability. Carrie, they lamented, was too young and inexperienced to offer the same. They would blame Carrie’s demands in the seventh month of her pregnancy for Boris’s absence from London at the start of the Covid crisis. In the middle of March he hosted a baby-shower party with Carrie at Chequers.
On April 29, just over a fortnight after Boris had been hospitalised with Covid, his sixth child, Wilfred Lawrie Nicholas, was born.
Wilfred and Lawrie were the names of his parents’ grandfathers, explained No 10. The origin of Nicholas seemed less clear. Boris had told his mother that he would name the boy after Nick Wahl, her second husband. That news provoked uproar in Stanley’s home. Any links with Charlotte were declared taboo. Then Boris declared that his son was named after Nicholas Hart and Nicholas Price, the doctors who had saved his life. The metaphorical temperature at Stanley’s home remained high.
In his flat in Downing Street, Boris was still weak from his illness. Nevertheless, Carrie believed Boris should be a modern father and change nappies. His sleep was constantly interrupted.
His relationship with his other children and family continued to be troubling, and in May his divorce was finalised. Charlotte, his mother, was the rock in his life, but the pressure on the sick man was remorseless.
‘Boris got caught by a flirtatious minx,’ said Jennifer Arcuri of Carrie. ‘She’s controlling him. It drives me insane that there’s such a huge difference between me and Carrie. She’s just a type-A worker bee, riding a bicycle around the Westminster village.’
Boris Johnson handed wife Marina Wheeler his life-savings to guarantee his promise to end an affair with journalist Petronella Wyatt, new biography reveals
by Tom Bower for The Mail On Sunday
Petronella Wyatt, Boris’s vivacious deputy when he was editor of The Spectator – at that time dubbed the ‘Sextator’ because of the numerous affairs between staff – found out about his passion for her by accident.
Rummaging through his untidy desk one day for a lunch guest-list, she found a handwritten love letter to her from him.
The mutual attraction for two vulnerable people was companionship. ‘You are the first woman friend I have ever had,’ Boris later said to Petronella.
She said: ‘He was a loner with few friends, and like many loners has a compensating need to be liked… he wants to be loved by the entire world.’
Petronella Wyatt, Boris’s vivacious deputy when he was editor of The Spectator – at that time dubbed the ‘Sextator’ because of the numerous affairs between staff – found out about his passion for her by accident. Pictured together at the Spectator Magazine summer party in 2006
His hero Pericles, shameless populist
At school, Boris found a hero in Pericles – a revered Athenian statesman and general who, with charisma and shameless populism, pleased the crowds to win constant re-election.
Blending this and other influences – including Bertie Wooster, the fictional prep schoolboy Molesworth, and Just William – Boris developed a unique oratorical style combined with the belief that every speech must include humour.
He learned that in ancient Greece, endless sex was perfectly acceptable.
The wonder of male superiority in ancient civilisations was unrestrained relationships enjoyed without rancour or guilt.
And in Boris’s farewell to Eton when he went to Oxford, he inserted in the leaving book a photo of himself wearing two scarves and holding a machine gun, with his pledge to score ‘more notches on my phallocratic phallus’.
After their affair started in 2001, he revealed intense jealousy about Petronella’s friendship with two famous historians. Convinced that she was unfaithful, his rage exposed insecurity, especially about his own intellectual inferiority, his stretched finances and what he perceived were his inadequate looks.
During their first summer together, Boris told Petronella he wanted to marry her. About eight months after their relationship began, she was pregnant. Attracted by the idea of a second family, Boris urged her to have the child. She was torn. Unwilling to be a single mother, she insisted that they should marry.
Boris saw a divorce lawyer and confessed the situation to his shocked wife Marina, who persuaded him to end the affair.
He agreed, and as a guarantee of his promise, he wrote a cheque for a large amount, handing all his savings to his wife. The next morning, after looking at his four young children eating breakfast, Boris was faced with reality: his family’s certain disapproval, the prospect of confrontation and poverty, too.
Remembering his own horror of his parents’ divorce, he retreated. His marriage, he decided, was not over.
Petronella had an abortion. But the affair was not over. In summer 2002, Petronella was suffering from the pressure of the relationship. If Boris refused to marry her, she said, they should stop seeing each other. ‘He threatened suicide and cried – buckets full,’ a close friend of Boris revealed.
Petronella headed for a holiday in Tuscany. Boris was with his family in Sardinia. Abruptly, he left Marina and his children and flew to the Italian mainland.
He climbed the wall of Petronella’s villa and declared that his impulsiveness and bravery proved his love. But again he returned to Marina.
Exhausted by all the lies, Petronella moved to the US with an American she had met, but the chance of a permanent relationship was shattered by Boris’s constant phone calls. She returned to London and the relationship was reignited. In September 2004, Petronella, now 36, discovered she was pregnant again.
Boris was forced to make a decision. While he refused to divorce Marina, he did not urge Petronella to have an abortion, instead encouraging her to have their ‘daughter’.
Trusting Boris would be a good father, Petronella decided on a full-term pregnancy.
Petronella headed for a holiday in Tuscany. Boris was with his family in Sardinia. Abruptly, he left Marina and his children and flew to the Italian mainland. Pictured Boris with Marina Wheeler in 2015
But she had a miscarriage. In disguise, Boris arrived at the hospital and together, in genuine misery for their lost child, they sat grieving. Humiliated, Marina changed the locks to their house and took off her wedding ring before allowing Boris to return a week later. It was at this point he revealed to her his secret about his father hitting his mother.
‘Boris is a home-body,’ wrote Petronella, ‘who would prefer to be at home with Marina.’
In 2016, after his affair with Jennifer Arcuri ended, Boris asked Petronella if she wanted to revive their relationship. She declined.
© Tom Bower
- Extracts from Boris Johnson The Gambler by Tom Bower, published by WH Allen, an imprint of Ebury Publishing, on October 15.