Boris Johnson’s downfall, after three years and 44 days as premier, was fueled not only by his natural tendency toward chaos but also by his inclination not to take responsibility, for fueling animosity between two rival teams inside Downing Street. and for using both his former adviser Dominic Cummings and his wife Carrie as targets for his excuses.

So far the conclusion of an explosive book, Johnson at 10: The Inside Story, written by historian Anthony Seldon, which reveals how Johnson himself came to proclaim when the situation was untenable: “I am destined to be in control. I am the Führer I’m the king who makes the decisions.”

The book is published on May 4, in the middle of the countdown to the coronation of King Carlos, but the extracts advanced by The Times have caused a great political uproar, in the midst of the third crisis of the Rishi Sunak government after the resignation as deputy prime Dominic Raab’s minister.

Johnson has faded into a discreet background in recent weeks, after his humiliating appearance before the parliamentary committee that will have to decide whether or not he lied deliberately when he said that the Covid rules had not been violated in Downing Street. The powerful influence of him is felt again, however, like the waning moon, in the midst of the chaos that does not stop among the Tories.

Michael Gove, Johnson’s ally in the Vote Leave campaign and embedded in the government despite its repeated “betrayals”, is the most public and notorious source for Anthony Seldon’s book. Gove contends that Johnson broke up with her adviser Dominic Cummings because he was fed up with him treating her “like a young, inexperienced king.”

Cummings’ fall from grace came shortly after Johnson won an outright majority in December 2019. “After the election, Boris didn’t want to be treated like a blustery thoroughbred, with a strong whip and bridle to hold him back.” under control,” says Gove. “Dom could be rude and insulting, and there were days when Boris could laugh with him, but others when he couldn’t.”

Cummings left through the back door of Downing Street in November 2020, after having a very personal fight for months with Carrie Symonds (not yet married to Johnson) in which he ended up being the loser. The enmity between the two reached such a point that Downing Street was the playing field of two rival and irreconcilable teams, which contributed to the perception of an invariably “dysfunctional” government, between scandals, fiascos and leaks.

Far from trying to mediate between the Cummings team and the Carrie team, Johnson used to blame one and the other to avoid his own responsibility for difficult decisions. “He was playing one against the other,” a former Johnson aide recounted to Anthony Seldon. “He liked to throw gasoline on both sides and see what happened to the fire.”

“He told us that it was impossible to deal with certain issues with Carrie, that she would go crazy, that he could not control her and had to do what she wanted,” adds the same source. “And right after he’d go upstairs, he’d tell her that we were impossible and he couldn’t control us.”

Despite playing the role of antagonists, Seldon says that deep down Carrie and Cummings are much more alike than one might think: both demanding and “activists”, with a kind side and a scary side, and with a tendency to paranoia. that it fed back (and that it was much more since de Cummings led to the resignation of Treasury Secretary Sajid Javid, a personal friend and former boss of Carrie in her rise through the ranks of the Conservative Party).

“Johnson would have been a much better prime minister without Carrie,” another longtime aide, who prefers not to give his name, confesses to Seldon. “She was a distraction through and through, with her young friends whom Boris could not intellectually consider equal. She cannot be blamed for the first baby, nor for the second, the diapers, the sleepless nights… But he was guilty of other distractions: the dogs, the floor, the parties…”.

Seldon comes, however, to the conclusion that the first and last responsibility for his own downfall rests with Johnson… “He was the one who decided to end his relationship with Marina Wheeler, the woman who had taken his measure, for a wife twice his age. For three years in Downing Street, it was always the story of Boris and Carrie, but he was the one who held the most important position in this country.”

“I suspect that History will be tougher on her than she really deserves, and that she will be perceived as the manipulator behind power,” acknowledges another former adviser to the former prime minister. “But I didn’t see it that way. He always had a tendency to manipulate women, and not vice versa.”

Seldon himself acknowledges that Carrie could have been an “asset” and not a liability if Johnson himself had been able to “manage the relationship in a different way”, avoiding her overexposure and continuous interference and in any case relying on her as shadow confidante and adviser, as you would expect from a premier’s wife (or a prime minister’s husband).

According to the criteria of The Trust Project