Boris Johnson sex dossier sparks Tory civil war
Boris Johnson at the Black and White Ball in February with Carrie Symonds, said to have been forced out as Tory party communications chief over her links with Brexiteers
The Tory party was plunged into a bitter civil war over dirty tricks last night after it was revealed that Theresa May’s aides drew up a dossier on Boris Johnson’s sex life in an apparent effort to prevent him from becoming prime minister.
The document, passed to The Sunday Times by a Conservative source, contains a catalogue of lurid allegations about Johnson’s sexual liaisons, quips from him about cocaine and damning assessments of his character.
The 4,000-word “war book”began circulating in Westminster last week, just hours before it was revealed that Johnson and his second wife, Marina Wheeler, had separated and were divorcing.
The document was drawn up by one of May’s aides during the Conservative leadership election in 2016 when Johnson was seen as her fiercest rival. It was not used because his campaign imploded.
The dossier was passed to this newspaper three days after two sources claimed that “black ops” attacks on Johnsonwere planned because he is leading opposition to the prime minister’s Brexit plan.
Last night officials in Downing Street and Conservative campaign headquarters (CCHQ) categorically denied circulating the document or ordering any updating of the dossier. It said such claims were “offensive” and “100% untrue”.
The dispute unleashed a fresh round of political bloodletting ahead of a party conference showdown where May will ask activists to back her vision of Brexit, and Johnson will urge the grassroots to force the prime ministerto “chuck” her Chequers plan.
The dossier accuses Johnson of “lying” about his affair with the socialite Petronella Wyatt, who had to abort his child, and claims he had an affair with the journalist Anna Fazackerley “on one occasion visiting both her and Petronella Wyatt on the same night”.
The paper was drawn up by Nick Hargrave, who served as deputy head of May’s policy unit at No 10 before joining the Portland PR firm last autumn. Hargrave’s name is listed as the original author in the document’s data files but there is no suggestion he was involved in distributing it last week.
A senior Tory who received the paper last week said: “This was put together by May’s team to smear Boris. It’s their ‘war book’ on him.”
A senior aide to the prime minister denounced what he called “an absolutely shocking and quite outrageous attempt” to smear May’s team and the Tory party chairman, Brandon Lewis. “It is genuinely offensive and categorically untrue that we have done anything to update this document. The suggestionthat this was circulated, updated or briefed in any way by CCHQ or No 10 is a lie.”
That leaves open the possibility that the dossier was circulated by another leadership rival. Details of the dossier and fresh infighting came amid claims that an ally of Johnson’s was forced out of CCHQ this year as a result of her links to cabinet Brexiteers. Carrie Symonds, the party’s former head of communications, left this summer. A plan to send her to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office to work with Johnson was scrapped.
The Sunday Times can also reveal that Johnson ditched plans to support a rival Brexit plan drawn up by hardline MPs after learning that it contained “mad” plans for a post-Brexit government to build a “Star Wars”-style missile shield to protect Britain from nuclear attack and an “expeditionary force” to defend the Falklands.
Leaked sections of the paper reveal that the European Research Group, led by Jacob Rees-Mogg, also wants to slash income tax and VAT on domestic fuel after Brexit.
Hargrave confirmed he had written the Boris dossier: “During the course of the 2016 Conservative leadership campaign, I was responsible for desk research,” he said. “Notes on opposing candidates are a fairly standard practice. I no longer work in politics and am thankfully no longer involved in the twists and turns of party leadership matters. I have been on honeymoon for most of the past fortnight.”
A source close to Lewis said he had “no knowledge” of the dossier until yesterday.
“Somebody is making mischief,” she added