Pals of Boris Johnson do their best to look on the bright side
Johnson is reported to have split from his long-suffering wife Marina. Again.
Boris Johnson has grabbed the headlines and become the talk of Westminster. But not in a good way.
The top Tory has split with his long-suffering wife Marina after she accused him of cheating on her again, The Sun reports today. Political editor Tom Newton Dunn writes that the pair are now living apart and no longer socialise as a couple. For good measure, Johnson's 25-year-old daughter said to have told pals at a party he “is a selfish bastard”.
In SW1, Tory insiders have been trying to work whether this is a lethal blow to Johnson’s chances of finally getting the Tory leadership.
According to one reading, the latest behaviour is deeply damaging as it will go down badly with the many ‘blue rinse’ Tory grassroots members who have traditional views on marriage. Should Johnson make it to the final two, these traditionally-minded members could be the ones who stop him from taking the crown.
But that's not how Johnson's allies are seeing the latest philandering by their man.
Tory MPs such as Ben Wallace, Jake Berry, Nigel Adams and Amanda Milling have been plotting Johnson’s path to the Tory leadership for a few years now. And they are not giving up just yet, it seems.
Rather, one anonymous ally has told the Mail: “I believe it is in Boris’ interests to get this news out there now, so it is not used by his enemies in the height of a leadership contest. It has all the hallmarks of an attempt to clear the decks. His marital problems have never been a secret. This means that if and when he goes for the top job, it will be old news and cannot harm him.”
Another Tory MP made a similar point to ITV, albeit more bluntly: “This is called shoveling the sh*t out of the way for the leadership bid.”
It's not clear whether any hacks have been speaking to Lynton Crosby. The Tory election guru was set to run Johnson's leadership campaign in 2016 and likes to talk about "clearing the barnacles off the boat"...
The man who broke the story says at least one Boris ally is talking rubbish...