Some are reporting that Boris Johnson’s fiancée, Carrie Symonds is an unofficial counsellor to him.

 

London: Boris Johnson made his annual Party Conference speech virtually, noting that Covid-19 had damaged both the soul and the economy of the British people. The PM challenged the notion he had lost his “mojo” and encouraged the overweight to lose weight, as he has done. Johnson fast-forwarded to a post-Covid future in 2030, led by the private sector and the reforms in the 2019 manifesto. His speech was a step towards reclaiming the flowery optimism he is renowned for.

In his keynote speech, Chancellor Rishi Sunak humbly thanked the hordes of people who support him. He listed the Treasury’s Covid support innovations and congratulated individuals and their businesses for being Covid-compliant. His approach and future measures are people centred and pragmatic, plus he has a precious human touch.

The PM and the Chancellor look like they are on the same page, but just occasionally a tiny chink is visible, such as when the PM suggested Sunak’s “Eat Out to Help Out” scheme may have contributed to the rise of coronavirus cases. Was this a fair justification for the coming pub/restaurants restrictions? Sunak, who is all for keeping the economy going, diplomatically responded that he had no regrets. No.10 has selected Allegra Stratton to be the government’s spokesperson. Up until now Stratton has been Sunak’s communications director, successfully branding Sunak as the government’s most lovable Cabinet member.

Johnson’s speech made ambitious claims about the UK as a wind powered nation. This is another example of what many suspect is his fiancée’s, the societally liberal Carrie Symonds, growing influence. It has been said that Johnson was fairly dependent on the advice of his second wife Marina Wheeler, and now some are reporting that Symonds is an unofficial counsellor to the PM. Previously it has been suspected that Symonds and her associates have swayed Johnson’s thinking regarding LGBT rights, environmental issues, animal rights, possibly peerages and recently the appointment of Nimco Ali OBE as the Home Office’s new Independent Advisor for tackling violence against women. Ali is a survivor of FGM and founder of the Five Foundation, a global partnership to end FGM. The gossip mongers claim that Symonds wants to differentiate Johnson from Sunak.

In advance of leaving the EU, UK and Norway signed a new framework for fisheries cooperation, allowing both parties to agree on the exchange of quotas and reciprocal fishing access to each other’s waters beginning on 1 January 2021. The EU and UK continue to seek agreeable ground in the areas of fisheries, the level playing field and governance (ECJ); the indications are that an agreement will be reached, but perhaps not before the deadline of 15 October, Lord David Frost, UK’s Chief Negotiator has implied. On the disputed fisheries area, Frost has said the EU fish nearly half the fish in UK’s jurisdiction and that must change; Frost suggested what amounts to a three-year transition period for fisheries, and on the State Aid disagreement it could be that an arbitration mechanism comes into force.

Nigel Farage, Leader of the Brexit Party, is waiting in the wings to take advantage of any perceived Johnson and Conservative failings. In between campaigning for President Donald Trump, Farage is showcasing the inadequacy of Priti Patel’s migrant stopping policies and the failures of Matt Hancock’s test-and-trace system. Amidst rising coronavirus infections and fears that extended restrictions will be in place until April 2021, Farage is promoting the Great Barrington Declaration, an open letter signed by 5,575 medical and public health scientists—11,267 medical practitioners and 155,303 general public who share grave concerns about the damaging physical and mental health impacts of the prevailing Covid-19 policies. They recommend an approach they call “Focused Protection”, allowing those who are not vulnerable to be allowed to resume normal life immediately. To be sure, Farage is on his toes looking for that opportunity to dive in and disrupt. The government may live to regret not giving him the peerage so many felt he deserved.