Boris Johnson‘s close friends and colleagues say the ‘subdued’ and ‘moody’ Prime Minister is worrying and complaining about money after his earnings shrank from over £350,000 a year down to £150,000.
Those in contact with Mr Johnson claim the embattled premier, usually jovial and ebullient, has ‘misery etched on his face’ as he struggles to cope with ever-growing political and personal pressures.
The Prime Minister is understood to detest being ‘at the helm in rough seas’ as his ‘longstanding tendency for dark moods’ is exacerbated by the twin problems of coronavirus and Brexit – which threaten to jeopardise his standing at the next General Election.
Meanwhile friends allege that he is worrying about money, having sacrificed his Daily Telegraph column (£275,000) and lucrative speaking engagements for his prime ministerial salary (£150,000).
Boris Johnson ‘s close friends and colleagues say the ‘subdued’ Prime Minister is complaining about money after his earnings shrank from over £350,000 a year down to £150,000
Mr Johnson is complaining about supporting four of his six children through university and coming out the other side of an expensive divorce from his ex-wife Marina Wheeler. His use of the flat he shares with fiancee Carrie Symonds above No 11 is taxed as a benefit in kind, while he also has to pay for food sent up from the Downing Street kitchen. All of this has left the ‘badly served’ Prime Minister in a foul mood, without a housekeeper and ‘worried about being able to afford a nanny’ for baby Wilfred, his friends claim
Though this is a tidy sum of money for most, Mr Johnson is complaining about supporting four of his six children through university and coming out the other side of an expensive divorce from his ex-wife Marina Wheeler.
His use of the flat he shares with fiancee Carrie Symonds, with whom he had newborn baby Wilfred this year, above No 11 is taxed as a benefit in kind, while he also has to pay for food sent up from the Downing Street kitchen.
The couple are even presented with a bill by the Government if they want to host friends at Mr Johnson’s Chequers country retreat.
All of this has left the ‘badly served’ Prime Minister in a foul mood, complaining about money and worrying about ‘being able to afford a nanny’ as he invests all his time and energy into governing, his friends have claimed.
One friend told The Times: ‘Boris, like other prime ministers, is very, very badly served. He doesn’t have a housekeeper – he has a single cleaner and they’re worried about being able to afford a nanny.
‘He’s stuck in the flat and Downing Street is not a nice place to live. It’s not like the Élysée or the White House where you can get away from it all because they’re so big.’
Senior Conservatives who meet regularly with the Prime Minister said the twin crises of coronavirus and Brexit have knocked his confidence and usual optimism.
Mr Johnson has faced criticism domestically and on the world stage for pursuing ‘madman’ legislation that would defy the Withdrawal Agreement brokered with the EU last year, breaking international law in the process.
He was forced on Wednesday to agree to table an amendment to the Internal Market Bill, giving MPs a vote before the Government can use the powers related to Northern Ireland which would breach the treaty.
The top human rights expert and wife of actor George Clooney announced she was quitting the high profile post over Mr Johnson’s intention to bring in new legislation that would override part of the Withdrawal Agreement he signed last year.
She said the UK’s actions threatened ‘to embolden autocratic regimes that violate international law with devastating consequences all over the world’.
Mrs Clooney said she was ‘disappointed’ to have to resign because ‘I have always been proud of the UK’s reputation as a champion of the international legal order, and of the culture of fair play for which it is known’.
Meanwhile, the Prime Minister is trying to balance coronavirus ‘hawks’ in favour of a second national lockdown with ‘doves’ – including Chancellor Rishi Sunak – who understand that Britain cannot afford another economic shutdown.
Last night Mr Johnson was spooked by Government scientists with warnings of hundreds of daily coronavirus deaths ‘within weeks’ as they told the terrified Prime Minister: ‘There is no alternative to a second national lockdown’.
His use of the flat he shares with fiancee Carrie Symonds above No 11 is taxed as a benefit in kind, while he also has to pay for food sent up from the Downing Street kitchen
He is now threatening to ‘intensify’ coronavirus restrictions as early as Tuesday as he blames the British public for the rise in cases – despite his repeated pleas for people to get back to offices and eat out in a bid to resuscitate Britain’s flailing economy.
The Prime Minister is looking to ditch his Rule of Six and introduce fortnight-long ‘circuit breakers’ nationwide for six months, following claims that it was ‘inevitable’ that a second wave would hit the country last night.
The new approach to get the UK through winter would see it alternate periods of stricter measures, including bans on all social contact between households and shutting down hospitality and leisure venues like bars and restaurants, with intervals of relaxation. Schools will be shut as a ‘last resort’, a Whitehall source claimed.
It is understood that the new ‘circuit break’ shutdown could be announced via television press conference on Tuesday, in a move reminiscent of the Government’s behaviour during the peak of the pandemic.
Officials, including England’s chief medical officer Professor Chris Whitty and chief scientific adviser Sir Patrick Vallance, are thought to be arguing for tough restrictions as panic within official circles grows.
But the measures are thought to have been met with protests from Chancellor Rishi Sunak, who has warned against introducing new blanket restrictions by pointing to huge damage already inflicted to the economy.
Government sources claim that Mr Sunak gave ‘sombre warnings’ to the Prime Minister, while Mr Johnson bizarrely shrugged off the ‘grim’ economic forecasts – claiming that ‘he was confident it will all be OK in the end’.
Business leaders last night echoed the Chancellor’s concerns and warned that a second lockdown would cripple the economy, with the British Chambers of Commerce saying: ‘Uncertainty and speculation around future national restrictions will sap business and consumer confidence at a delicate moment for the economy’.
‘This is all weighing very heavily on him. I think you can see it even in some of his public appearances – the sort of misery etched on his face. He doesn’t seem to be enjoying being at the helm in rough seas,’ a Tory said.
‘He just seemed subdued. He was engaged but he certainly wasn’t as lively as you’d expect,’ said another. ‘You can speculate – does that go back to the illness? Is it the weight of responsibility or is it maybe just a recognition that he’s not always very well briefed on things? Most likely it’s some combination of all those.’