How did Carrie shrink Bojo the bear?

His words were measured, his demeanour uncharacteristically serious and statesmanlike. As he launched his bid for the Tory leadership yesterday, Boris Johnson’s carefully cultivated new image was, lest anyone doubt it, that of a Prime Minister in waiting.

The trademark dishevelled blond mop is now little more than a neat, tufty short-back-and-sides.

The just-slept-in suits have been replaced with true-blue Tory tailoring and jackets that button up over a trimmer tummy — one and a half stones trimmer, to be precise.

The once ruddy complexion is now dewy and baby-smooth, thanks to booze-free early nights and a new diet.

Just like his speech, Boris Johnson was the epitome of polish and poise.

Carrie Symonds, a former Tory Party PR and Boris’s girlfriend of 18 months

Carrie Symonds, a former Tory Party PR and Boris’s girlfriend of 18 months

Carrie Symonds, a former Tory Party PR and Boris’s girlfriend of 18 months

And the message was clear: the Tory Party’s favourite buffoon means business. So exactly how has the most famously crumpled politician in Britain acquired his sleek new look?

Step forward, Carrie Symonds, a former Tory Party PR and Boris’s girlfriend of 18 months. She attended his leadership launch yesterday, stylish and demure, but careful to remain out of camera shot.

‘Carrie is very energetic and health conscious,’ says an insider who knows them both. ‘She’s a millennial basically, and terribly into wellness and fitness. Boris’s transformation is undoubtedly down to her.

One Team Boris supporter suggests with a knowing wink: ‘He was a notorious man about town. Now he’s very keen to get home to Carrie at the end of the day.’

Certainly, their relationship was a major factor in the collapse of Boris’s 25-year marriage to his long-suffering wife, Marina, a barrister and mother of four of his five children, who are dismayed by their father’s behaviour.

One Team Boris supporter suggests with a knowing wink: ‘He was a notorious man about town. Now he’s very keen to get home to Carrie at the end of the day.’

One Team Boris supporter suggests with a knowing wink: ‘He was a notorious man about town. Now he’s very keen to get home to Carrie at the end of the day.’

One Team Boris supporter suggests with a knowing wink: ‘He was a notorious man about town. Now he’s very keen to get home to Carrie at the end of the day.’

Lara, his eldest daughter who is a fashion student, is only four years younger than 31-year-old Carrie. It’s thought none of the children have met their father’s girlfriend.

Boris, 54, has been thrown out of the family home twice before: in 2004 over his four-year affair with the writer Petronella Wyatt, and again in 2010 when it emerged that he’d fathered a lovechild with art consultant Helen Macintyre.

The relationship with Carrie, though, is viewed as the real deal by his friends despite the age gap. His friends expect them to marry as soon as his divorce comes through. They see her as a positive influence on him.

Boris and Carrie met in 2012 when she worked on his campaign to be re-elected Mayor of London. Later their paths crossed again, when she worked for current leadership contenders Sajid Javid and Michael Gove.

Pictured: Boris Johnson at GQ Men of the Year 2013

Pictured: Boris Johnson at GQ Men of the Year 2013

Pictured: Boris Johnson at GQ Men of the Year 2013

The couple became close when she was promoted to director of communications for the Tories in June 2017, a role which led to her being named as Britain’s second most powerful public relations professional by PR Week magazine.

While Carrie — reportedly nicknamed ‘Apples’ because of her rosy cheeks — was undoubtedly effective, she was not universally popular during her time at Tory HQ. She was famous for her long lunches at expensive restaurants — some of them with the then Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson.

Rumours about their relationship took off after they were spotted at Rules restaurant in Covent Garden on Valentine’s Day last year. At a wedding of a Tory colleague, Carrie excitedly showed off text messages from the Foreign Secretary.

When the reports reached Downing Street, Theresa May took a dim view. That August it was announced Carrie was going to work for the financial company Bloomberg.

Their affair became public a few weeks later, and Boris and his wife announced they were splitting. He and Carrie now live together in her £1 million flat in South London.

It certainly hasn’t been plain sailing for the pair. Friends say Boris is devastated by the anger of Marina and their children. But Carrie knew what she was taking on when Boris moved out of the family home — and she’s no pushover.

She certainly showed bravery when she was revealed as one of the youngest victims of the notorious ‘black cab’ sex attacker, John Worboys, in 2007. Then a student, she lost consciousness in the back of his taxi after accepting a spiked drink, and says she will never know what happened during the short journey back to the family home.

Boris in 2013

Boris in 2013

Boris now

Boris now

Lean machine: Boris cuts a much slimmer, smarter figure under the influence of Carrie Symonds. Left: Boris in 2013. Right: In 2019. 

Aged just 20, she gave evidence in court while many survivors couldn’t bear the ordeal of facing down their attacker. Last year, when the Parole Board agreed to release Worboys after ten years in prison, ministers said they were powerless to act.

Driven by her anger at the injustice, Carrie supported a judicial review, backed by more than £60,000 raised through crowdfunding. She waived her anonymity to write courageous newspaper articles about her ordeal. Worboys stayed behind bars.

Carrie herself is the product of an extra-marital affair. Her parents are Matthew Symonds, now 64, one of the founders of The Independent newspaper, and Josephine Mcaffee, 70, then one of the paper’s lawyers. Both were married to other people at the time.

She was born in London in 1988 and just four months later her father’s wife gave birth to Carrie’s half-sister Isobel (she has two other half siblings).

She was brought up by her mother in a three-bedroom townhouse on a quiet, leafy road in East Sheen, South-West London, and while her father provided financial assistance, he never seemed much of a presence in her life, according to a friend.

‘She talked of her mother all the time, but never mentioned him.’ Carrie attended £20,000-a-year Godolphin and Latymer School and studied theatre and history of art at Warwick University.

Headstrong and determined, she is working closely with Sir Lynton Crosby, the Australian election strategist who worked on Boris’s two successful London mayoral campaigns.

They have persuaded Boris to make fewer jokes and to project a more serious demeanour to match his new image.

They’ve also encouraged him to adopt a lower public profile — until yesterday he hadn’t made a speech since March — to limit the chance of gaffes.

‘The time for jokes is over,’ according to one Boris-watcher. ‘No 10 is in their sights.’

So what are the secrets of the BoJo makeover?

TAMING THE MOP

Boris famously would deliberately muss up his hair before stepping in front of the cameras, so it’s been something of a sacrifice to adopt a neater coiffure.

Where he once forked out no more than £15 at a Turkish barber shop near his old Islington home for a cut — with a head massage, shave and a beer thrown in — his hair is now properly styled, says grooming expert Lucas Armitage. ‘It looks like he’s spending in the region of £60.’

‘The hair is one of the first things a person usually alters to signal a “change”,’ adds Lucas.’

One insider told the Mail: ‘It’s been cut shorter not only because it’s smarter but also because it’s thinning, which is a shame for Boris because it’s one of his greatest assets. He was reluctant, but Carrie was insistent. It’s a sign of her sway over him. It’s a bit like Meghan and Harry. What Carrie wants, Carrie gets.’

BANNING THE BINGES

As a bon viveur, Boris used to indulge in ‘late night binges of chorizo and cheese’.

Breakfast would sometimes be ‘cold spaghetti or a chop or two, if there is some left over from my kids’ meal the night before’.

In 2008, he memorably lambasted the UN for urging people to cut down on meat to help the environment.

‘If they seriously believe I’m going to give up meat in the hope of reducing the temperature of the planet, they must be totally barmy,’ he railed.

Carrie, however, is a passionate environmentalist who campaigns on animal rights, and is said to have supported Brexit because it would mean a possible end to live animal exports.

So it’s unlikely to be a coincidence Boris is said to have become ‘pretty much vegetarian’ recently. A friend says: ‘Carrie has shown him that a healthy diet means he has more energy and more focus. He has been struck dumb by the improvement. He isn’t as tired or grumpy and gets much more done.’

He’s even experimented with veganism after ‘Carrie has told him that methane gas from cows breaking wind is bad for the environment and going vegan would be good for him’. However, he lasted just three days, as he couldn’t bear life without cheese.

Carrie Symonds leaves Boris Johnson's Conservative party leadership campaign in central London

Carrie Symonds leaves Boris Johnson's Conservative party leadership campaign in central London

Carrie Symonds leaves Boris Johnson’s Conservative party leadership campaign in central London

HALF THE MAN HE USED TO BE

Boris has admitted he always took pride in his ‘Hulk-like strength and the blast furnace super bellows of my lung capacity’ — but last year a doctor warned him he was tipping the scales at 16.5 stone.

As he’s around 5ft 9in tall, this gave him a BMI of 35.9 — officially obese according to NHS guidelines. Within two weeks of cutting down on meat, eggs and diary, he’d lost 12lb and is continuing to shed the pounds under the watchful eye of Carrie.

CUTTING BACK ON BOOZE

Boris has always been open about his love of alcohol. ‘I do drink quite a lot of wine and champagne, at least a bottle a day,’ he wrote in 2005. ‘It doesn’t matter if it’s expensive or not because all wine is good.’

However, friends say the new Boris now recognises that he gets more done when he’s sober.

‘He used to be the sort who could easily down a bottle of wine by himself at dinner after a drink at the bar. But after giving up for three months completely, he no longer “does a bottle” and just sticks to a single glass,’ says one.

Several of his advisers have given up, too, yet another a sign of how serious they are about his leadership campaign.

Boris’s complexion has also vastly improved as a result, according to grooming expert Lucas Armitage: ‘His skin looks smoother and less ruddy. He may have had some light dermabrasion treatment as his forehead looks a lot less lined if you look at his before and after pictures.’

PUMPING IRON, NOT POUNDING PAVEMENTS

Boris has long been a keen runner with a taste for eccentric jogging outfits, including Hawaiian beach shorts and a bobble hat. He was also a keen cyclist, but while Foreign Secretary he was apparently banned from cycling over fears he was a key target for terrorists.

Now with his lover’s full encouragement, Boris is back on his bike . . . and more.

A friend says: ‘It’s true that we have not seen Boris running as he did, probably because it wasn’t really working for him.’

Instead, Boris is said to be working out at his London home with Carrie, using weights under the possible guidance of a trainer.

His hard work has paid off and he is able to fit into more flattering suits. Stylish and well cut, a source says Carrie has ‘personally kitted him out’ to her impeccable taste.

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