Prime Minister Boris Johnson recently married fiancée Carrie Symonds on 29 May, in a surprise ceremony at Westminster Cathedral. Johnson is the first Prime Minister to have married whilst in office in nearly 300 years. However, the wedding comes amidst allegations that the Prime Minister remains distracted by his personal life. In Dominic Cummings’ testimony before Parliament, he alluded to a strained personal relationship between himself and Ms. Symonds, as well as to her potential influence over Governmental issues.
Our latest research has found that a plurality of respondents (45%) agree with a statement suggesting that the Prime Minister’s personal life has distracted him during a critical time.
Agreement is strongest amongst younger people, with 47% of 18-to-24-year-olds and 53% of 25-to-34-year-olds agreeing. Very few members of these age groups disagree, at just 10% and 17% respectively. Moreover, 59% of Labour voters agree with this statement, with just 14% disagreeing. A plurality of Conservative voters (43%), meanwhile, disagree with the statement that the Prime Minister’s personal life has distracted him during a critical time, but a considerable 29% say that they agree with this statement.
Even so, a plurality (40%) believe that this was the right time for the Prime Minister to get married. Meanwhile, 30% believe it was not the right time, and 30% say they do not know.
The negative view is once again most likely to be held by younger respondents, with 52% of 18-to-24-year-olds believing that this was the wrong time for the Prime Minister to get married. Just 21% of this age group believe it was the right time for him to get married, whilst 27% say they do not know. Those aged 65 or over are more likely to suggest that this was the right time for the Prime Minister to get married, with 46%—the largest proportion of any age group—saying yes, this was the right time. Meanwhile, 61% of 2019 Conservative voters, compared to just 25% of 2019 Labour voters, believe this was the right time for the Prime Minister to marry.
Among the public, opinion of Ms. Symonds is broadly neutral, with 49% of respondents having a neither favourable nor unfavourable view of her. Overall, just 19% of those surveyed say they hold a favourable view of Ms. Symonds, with 20% holding an unfavourable view. 12% of respondents say they do not know.
There is a very slight difference along party lines, however, with 26% of 2019 Conservative voters and comparably fewer 2019 Labour voters (17%) having an overtly favourable view of the Prime Minister’s new wife. A plurality across both parties, however, hold neither a favourable nor unfavourable view of her: 51% of 2019 Conservative voters and 47% 2019 Labour voters take this view.
However, criticism of the Prime Minister’s wife’s role in Downing Street seems to have cut through. 51% altogether believe that it is a bad thing for Carrie Symonds to have a role in some of the decision-making of the UK Government. Notably, 47% of 2019 Conservative voters hold this belief, in addition to 61% of 2019 Labour voters. Just 10% of all respondents believe Carrie Symonds having a role in Government decision making to be a good thing, whilst 25% believe it to be neither good nor bad and 14% say they don’t know.
It appears that overall, whilst Britons have a fairly neutral opinion of the Prime Minister’s new wife, the publicity her role within Downing Street has garnered may draw a more broadly negative response from the public at large. Furthermore, the focus on the Prime Minister’s personal life appears to have been more of a hindrance than a help to the public’s perception of him.