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Boris’s baby – Westminster’s worst kept secret

1 March 2020

6:42 AM

1 March 2020

6:42 AM

There’s much speculation (and conspiracy theory) about why Boris Johnson chose today to announce that he’s becoming a father for the fifth time. Was it to get the resignation of Sir Philip Rutnam off the front pages?

But to many in Westminster, the real question is how they have kept it quiet for so long. Rumours have been circulating for some time fuelled by Carrie Symonds’s reduced profile and a series of clues for those who were looking. When the couple chose to take in the recess week from the more discreet Chevening rather than Chequers, it was read in some quarters as a pregnancy-related decision.


Then when Symonds didn’t accompany Boris to the Black and White Ball on Tuesday – a Tory fundraiser where she would have been feted – it was taken as near-confirmation of the pregnancy rumours. She didn’t pull out at the last minute: she was never due to arrive. What firmer proof could you need? Some versions of this even began to circulate on social media.

By Wednesday, the rumour of her pregnancy was being discussed throughout Westminster. By Thursday, those rumours were reported as fact. She’s not exactly a recluse: she has enough friends who would have been unable to respond to the (many) journalists seeking the scoop.

Rather than face a day of Sunday papers running cryptic articles and photos of Symonds looking curvier than usual with the caption ‘You’re looking swell, Carrie’ or a similar hint, No. 10 has confirmed the news. It doesn’t hurt that the announcement has bumped the resignation of Rutnam as Home Office permanent secretary down the news agenda.

Bets will now be on for baby names: Mr S won’t be putting any money on ‘Sixtus’.

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