Boris Johnson’s marriage secures Carrie Symonds’ power to exercise green agenda
To the British government, they speak in a whisper and wonder of “badgers”.
Senior officials remember their shock at what happened when Boris Johnson, his then-fiancée Carrie Symonds and their baby Wilfred went on holiday to Scotland in August last year.
As national headlines were dominated by Covid-19 lockdowns, more than 5,000 immigrants crossing the Channel and the A-level exam results fiasco, the highest levels of government were obsessed with badgers.
Animals, beloved in children’s novels but accused by farmers of spreading tuberculosis in cattle, are one of Carrie’s passions.
While the couple stayed in a Scottish clifftop cottage, Carrie learned that a leaked document revealed plans to continue badger culling in 10 regions, including Derbyshire.
This despite the fact that Theresa Villiers, then responsible minister, had previously ordered the scrapping of the Derbyshire slaughter.
Carrie is fiercely opposed to the culling of badgers and the minister’s decision came three weeks after Carrie was personally briefed in Downing Street by Dominic Dyer, head of the Badger Trust, which campaigns against the cull.
The farmers union is convinced that the Carrie-Dyer meeting was crucial in getting the government to reject scientific advice to proceed with the slaughter. Ms Villiers confirmed that Downing Street intervened. “Certainly we signed up with No 10 on the Derbyshire decision, yes. The minister insisted she had not received specific “direction” but admitted that a “conversation had taken place” about whether the slaughter was necessary.
Mr Dyer said he had raised concerns over the need to stop the “controversial, costly and cruel” badger killing. “I’m glad to see Carrie made sure this reached [the Prime Minister in] Downing Street, ”he said.
With the marriage, Carrie Johnson’s powerful status is secured.
However, while the couple were on vacation, the leak suggested that Mr Johnson’s government appeared to be quietly committing to turn around. Carrie found out and Boris weighed it in. Scotland’s phone was hot as a redesign was ordered. It was duly announced that ministers would phase out the culling of badgers and instead speed up vaccination and testing programs for livestock.
If anyone in Whitehall was unsure of Carrie’s power, here’s their proof. “Badgers” is still whispered, like some sort of code, whenever its scope is questioned.
They’re just one of the creatures Carrie cares about deeply – and ministers and officials are learning they owe it to themselves, too. Others include elephants, bears, dogs, cats, whales, sharks, dolphins, squirrels, hedgehogs, monkeys, red kites, swans, penguins, puffins, deer, polar bears, hippos, bulls and rhinos.
To these are added its favorite causes: reduction of ocean pollution and single-use plastics; reduce pesticides; longer sentences for cruelty to animals; a crackdown on trophy hunting, ivory poaching and puppy breeding; rewilding; bans on microbeads; no more video surveillance in slaughterhouses.
She supports many animal welfare organizations including Animal Aid Unlimited, a street animal rescue in Udaipur, India; Walk for elephants and rhinos; the ecosystems of Sri Lanka; Ullapool Shark Ambassador; Fashion activism; and the Aspinall Foundation where she currently works.
The “FLOTUK” or “Whale Princess” as some officials call her, enjoys enormous influence on matters that concern her – especially since she is now newly married and her relationship with the Prime Minister and his position are legally formalized.
With the marriage, Carrie Johnson’s powerful status is secured. Previously, she had dismissed her assistants, her chief advisor Dominic Cummings and press secretary Lee Cain.
Symbolically, the secret wedding ceremony took place at the end of a week dominated by Mr Cummings’ criticism of her new husband, his handling of Covid-19, his ability to lead and the Carrie influence. In response to the beards of the former aide-de-camp, the marriage was perfect.
Yes [ministers] wither, however, they just need to remember: “the badger
Government insiders had to absorb a series of new phrases, initials, key personnel and policy initiatives. There are “Bleu-Vert” – Conservatives like Carrie who support environmental issues.
“FOC” is Carrie’s friend. It is accepted in government circles that the best way to do something – a decision on policy or personnel – is to ensure that it meets the approval of a FOC.
Topping the list is Zac Goldsmith, minister of the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, whom Carrie aided in her failed bid to become mayor of London. In the FOC category are Mr. Dyer and his fellow environmentalist Derek Gow, the brother of Mr. Goldsmith Ben and the father of Prime Minister Stanley.
Ben Goldsmith has been appointed to the board of directors of the Department of Environment, Agriculture and Rural Affairs. As a co-founder of the charity Rewilding Britain, Ben believes that rewilding (returning the environment to its natural state by bringing back the animals that used to live there) offers “enormous benefits”.
After Carrie quit working at Conservative Party headquarters, Ben, who also heads the lobbyist Conservative Environment Network, was one of those she consulted about her future. He introduced him to Bloomberg Philanthropies, created by former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg. Carrie got a job with them and they seconded her to Oceana, Bloomberg’s cleaner ocean organization.
Carrie is a patron of the Conservative Animal Welfare Foundation (Cawf). He paid tribute to his diligence, saying: “Carrie has worked hard to promote recent Conservative policies on the ivory ban, CCTV in slaughterhouses, increased penalties for animal cruelty, ban microbeads and animal sensitivity. “
Cawf also thanked her for speaking out at the March Against Whaling in January 2019, and against trophy hunting at BirdFair, dubbed the ‘Birdwatchers of Glastonbury’. There she condemned people who hunt birds for fun, saying, “Why would anyone want to destroy something so beautiful and then stuff his poor lifeless body to keep it as some kind of macabre trophy.” ?
Presumably, it didn’t work out so well with traditional county conservatives who like to shoot pheasant and partridge for fun. Neither did the fact that she shared a platform with Chris Packham, the naturalist and host and fierce opponent of grouse shots.
Another Carrie patron at Cawf is Stanley Johnson. For his 80th birthday, Boris and his siblings teamed up to get a permit allowing their father to put beavers in the river on his Exmoor estate. They consulted with Mr Gow, the UK’s leading rewager, whose project has received an investment from Ben Goldsmith.
There’s one creature that Carrie cares about a lot, of course, and that’s Boris himself. His contact with the death of Covid-19 and his understandable wish for him to eat healthier and lose weight is believed to have sparked another sweeping policy shift, against the publicity for another set of initials , HFSS (foods high in fat, salt and sugar). The government seemed to favor a more middle-of-the-road approach, until it opted out without warning for the more stringent option, a total ban.
Another initiative, Boris’ 10-point “green revolution” – which proposes a ban on diesel and petrol cars – also bears its mark.
The stage is set for the crucial UN climate change talks, Cop26, in Glasgow in November. The Prime Minister would fly there, along with world leaders, on special “green flights” using sustainable aviation fuel produced from food waste.
Ministers and officials have a lot of studies on environmental issues before them. If they wither, however, they just need to remember: “badgers.”