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Sex monster who raped a mother is jailed 30 years later

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sex monster who raped a mother is jailed 30 years later

A rapist who got away with horrific crimes against a Victorian mother for three decades will spend at least the next nine years behind bars.

In July 1990 the life of the mother of five was turned upside down when Brett Braddock and another man broke into her home and raped her.

First Braddock, now 57, held her down while the other man raped her. Then they reversed roles.

The woman, whose children were all at home, was warned against struggling by the two masked men.

The second man, still unidentified, told her to lie still and not tell anybody what had happened or he’d kill her children.

A rapist who got away with horrific crimes against a Victorian mother for three decades will spend at least the next nine years behind bars (file picture)

A rapist who got away with horrific crimes against a Victorian mother for three decades will spend at least the next nine years behind bars (file picture)

A rapist who got away with horrific crimes against a Victorian mother for three decades will spend at least the next nine years behind bars (file picture)

He knew she had a teenage daughter, he said.

Braddock was sentenced on Wednesday to serve 12 years and two months behind bars for the crimes that County Court Judge Patricia Riddell called every woman’s worst nightmare.

The woman told her eldest daughter what had happened and called her mother, but initially refused to tell the police.

‘That was an act of maternal self-sacrifice,’ Judge Riddell said.

The woman’s daughter spoke to a neighbour who called police.

DNA samples were taken and stored. A DNA profile was taken from the samples in 2012 but no match was found.

It wasn’t until 2018 when the case was reviewed by the Sexual Crimes Squad’s cold case unit that good old fashioned police work by the original investigator and fresh eyes identified Braddock as a suspect.

While he had committed no other crimes, he had lived close to the woman at the time.

Officers knocked on his door and asked for a voluntary sample, and he agreed. The match came back – he was 100 billion times more likely to be the source of the DNA than anybody else.

Braddock denied knowing the woman, ever going to her house, and raping her. He said he remembered police coming to his house to ask if he’d heard anything, and that he found out later a woman had been raped.

He pleaded guilty to two charges of aggravated rape and one of burglary over the attack but Judge Riddell said she couldn’t find he had any remorse because he claimed to have no memory of the attack.

Judge Riddell said the offending was in stark contrast to the rest of his life and noted family and friends described him as a loving family man and great friend.

‘To say the uncovering of these offences have shocked those close to you would be an understatement,’ she said.

He still has the support of his wife, who he met long after the rape.

Braddock must undergo sex offender treatment while in custody.

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Trump says a woman is in ‘first place’ to get his nomination for Supreme Court

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trump says a woman is in first place to get his nomination for supreme court

President Donald Trump on Saturday announced that a woman is in ‘first place’ to receive his Supreme Court nomination to fill the vacancy caused by Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s death. 

He named two conservative women who he has elevated to federal appeals courts as contenders, a move that would tip the court further to the right.

Trump, who now has a chance to nominate a third justice to a lifetime appointment on the court, named Amy Coney Barrett, 48, of the Chicago-based 7th Circuit and Barbara Lagoa, 52, of the Atlanta-based 11th Circuit as possible nominees.

He praised Lagoa, in particular, as an ‘incredible person’. 

The president did not commit to a timeline for the nomination but he is expected to announce the name within the next seven days after saying he was ‘obligated’ to so so ‘without delay’. 

President Trump said Saturday his Supreme Court nominee is most likely to be a woman

President Trump said Saturday his Supreme Court nominee is most likely to be a woman

President Trump said Saturday his Supreme Court nominee is most likely to be a woman

According to CNN, a source said that the announcement of the nomination could rely on when Ginsburg’s burial takes place.

Even before Ginsburg’s death, Trump had made public a list of potential nominees.

Barrett has generated perhaps the most interest in conservative circles. A devout Roman Catholic, she was a legal scholar at Notre Dame Law School in Indiana before Trump appointed her to the 7th Circuit in 2017. 

A Barrett nomination would likely ignite controversy, as her strong conservative religious views have prompted abortion-rights groups to say that if confirmed by the U.S. Senate, she would likely vote to overturn the landmark 1973 Roe v. Wade Supreme Court decision that legalized abortion nationwide.

Lagoa has served on the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for less than a year after being appointed by Trump and confirmed by the Senate on an 80-15 vote. Prior to that she also spent less than a year in her previous position as the first Latina to serve on the Florida Supreme Court. 

She previously spent more than a decade as a judge on an intermediate appeals court in Florida.

Another candidate Trump has considered previously is Amul Thapar. He was a district court judge in Kentucky – the first federal judge of South Asian descent – before Trump appointed him to the Cincinnati-based 6th Circuit in 2017.

Ginsburg’s death on Friday from cancer after 27 years on the court handed Trump, who is seeking re-election on November 3, the opportunity to expand its conservative majority to 6-3 at a time of a gaping political divide in America. 

Conservative activists for years have sought to get enough votes on the Supreme Court to overturn Roe v. Wade. During the 2016 campaign, Trump promised to appoint justices who would overturn that decision. 

But the court in July, even with its conservative majority, struck down a restrictive Louisiana abortion law on a 5-4 vote.

Amy Coney Barrett is among the frontrunners. She has generated perhaps the most interest in conservative circles. A devout Roman Catholic, she was a legal scholar at Notre Dame Law School in Indiana before Trump appointed her to the 7th Circuit in 2017

Amy Coney Barrett is among the frontrunners. She has generated perhaps the most interest in conservative circles. A devout Roman Catholic, she was a legal scholar at Notre Dame Law School in Indiana before Trump appointed her to the 7th Circuit in 2017

Amy Coney Barrett is among the frontrunners. She has generated perhaps the most interest in conservative circles. A devout Roman Catholic, she was a legal scholar at Notre Dame Law School in Indiana before Trump appointed her to the 7th Circuit in 2017

The two justices already appointed by Trump were Neil Gorsuch in 2017 and Brett Kavanaugh in 2018. 

Kavanaugh’s confirmation process was particularly heated, as he faced accusations by a California university professor, Christine Blasey Ford, that he had sexually assaulted her in 1982 when the two were high school students in Maryland. 

Kavanaugh angrily denied those accusations and was narrowly confirmed.   

Any nomination would require approval in the Senate, where Trump’s Republicans hold a 53-47 majority. 

‘We were put in this position of power and importance to make decisions for the people who so proudly elected us, the most important of which has long been considered to be the selection of United States Supreme Court Justices,’ Trump said on Twitter. 

‘We have this obligation, without delay!’

Trump praised Hispanic judge Barbara Lagoa as an 'incredible person'

Trump praised Hispanic judge Barbara Lagoa as an 'incredible person'

Trump praised Hispanic judge Barbara Lagoa as an ‘incredible person’ 

Not all Republican senators supported the move: Maine’s Susan Collins on Saturday said Trump should hold off on nominating.

‘In fairness to the American people, who will either be re-electing the President or selecting a new one, the decision on a lifetime appointment to the Supreme Court should be made by the President who is elected on November 3rd,’ Collins, facing a tough re-election race herself, said on Twitter.

Democrats are still seething over the Republican Senate’s refusal to act on Democratic President Barack Obama’s Supreme Court nominee, Merrick Garland, in 2016 after conservative Justice Antonin Scalia died 10 months before that election. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said then that the Senate should not act on a court nominee during an election year, a stance he has since reversed.

Even if Democrats win the White House and a Senate majority in the November election, Trump and McConnell have time as the full new Congress would not be sworn in until Jan. 3

Senior congressional Democrats raised the prospect of adding additional justices next year to counterbalance Trump’s nominees if they win control of the White House and Senate in the November election.

McConnell, who has made confirmation of Trump’s federal judicial nominees a top priority, said the chamber would vote on any Trump nominee.

Given that they have few tools to block the eventual nomination from passing, Democrats plan to try to rally public opposition to the move.

‘The focus needs to be showing the public what’s at stake in this fight. And what’s at stake is really people’s access to affordable healthcare, workers’ rights and women’s rights,’ said Democratic Senator Chris Van Hollen in a telephone interview.

Obama himself on Saturday called on Senate Republicans to honor what he called that ‘invented’ 2016 principle.

‘A basic principle of the law – and of everyday fairness – is that we apply rules with consistency, and not based on what´s convenient or advantageous in the moment,’ Obama said in a statement posted online.

Republicans risk the possibility of liberals embracing more radical proposals should Trump replace Ginsburg but Democrats win November’s election, with some activists on the left suggesting even before Ginsburg’s death that the number of justices on the court should be expanded to counter Trump’s appointees.

‘Let me be clear: if Leader McConnell and Senate Republicans move forward with this, then nothing is off the table for next year,’ Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer told fellow Democrats on a Saturday conference call, according to a source who listened to the call.

House of Representatives Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler on Saturday said that rushing a court pick through the Senate if Democrats win in November would be ‘undemocratic.’

He said in a Twitter post that doing so would mean ‘Congress would have to act and expanding the court would be the right place to start.’

Confirmation votes could also put more pressure on incumbent Republican senators in competitive election races, including Collins and Arizona’s Martha McSally, at a time when Democrats are eying a chance to win control of that chamber. Senator Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, who is not up for re-election this cycle, also could play a pivotal role.

She told local media on Friday, prior to Ginsburg’s death, that she would not vote for a Supreme Court nominee so close to the election.

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Book reveals Prince Philip’s complicated relationship with Charles

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In a landmark biography of Prince Philip, a distinguished Royal writer paints a compelling portrait of the Queen’s rock-steady companion as he nears his 100th birthday. Here, in the final part of our serialisation, she explains his complicated relationship with his children.

On the forecourt of Buckingham Palace, the Grenadier Guards played a selection of nursery rhymes, ending with a special rendition of the Teddy Bears’ Picnic. Inside the Palace, Prince Charles was celebrating his fourth birthday in the white and gold music room with 14 friends. Furniture and priceless artefacts had been cleared away so that the heir to the throne and his guests could run up and down.

It was, said one observer, ‘probably the lightest-hearted party given at Buckingham Palace since Queen Victoria had children young enough to romp in the same spirit’.

It was notable for one other significant reason: this was the first time Prince Philip had been present at one of his son’s birthday parties. Although he loves babies, Philip did not attend the birth of Prince Charles on November 14, 1948. He had been playing squash at the time, and on seeing his newborn son declared that he looked ‘like a plum pudding’.

Royal family: Prince Philip points while sat next to Prince Edward and Queen Elizabeth II, with Prince Charles, Princess Anne and Prince Andrew stood behind

Royal family: Prince Philip points while sat next to Prince Edward and Queen Elizabeth II, with Prince Charles, Princess Anne and Prince Andrew stood behind

Royal family: Prince Philip points while sat next to Prince Edward and Queen Elizabeth II, with Prince Charles, Princess Anne and Prince Andrew stood behind

Nor did he spend much time with Charles thereafter, attending just two of his first eight birthdays. For the little boy, the love of his mother and father, like food and clothing in those austere post-war years, was severely rationed. Philip was based at the Admiralty when Charles was born, and within a year was back in the Mediterranean as second- in-command of the destroyer HMS Chequers.

So began a series of separations that were to blight Charles’s young life, establishing a pattern that has carried through into his own adulthood, with all its dire consequences.

It was not, of course, unusual for children of aristocratic families to be placed in the care of nannies in that era. But even when judged by the standards of the time, Philip and Elizabeth saw remarkably little of their offspring.

Princess Elizabeth spent her 24th birthday, in April 1950, when Charles was just 18 months old, in Malta watching her husband play polo before returning to England to await the birth of her second child, Anne, in August.

She then spent the late summer at Balmoral before joining Philip in Malta again for a holiday, leaving their four-month-old daughter and two-year-old son to spend Christmas without them at Sandringham.

Charles found these long separations from his mother, according to the official court correspondent of the time, Godfrey Talbot, ‘very upsetting and bewildering’.

Diana (right) reckoned that if Charles (left) had been brought up in the normal fashion, he would have been better able to handle his and her emotions

Diana (right) reckoned that if Charles (left) had been brought up in the normal fashion, he would have been better able to handle his and her emotions

Diana (right) reckoned that if Charles (left) had been brought up in the normal fashion, he would have been better able to handle his and her emotions

Despite Philip’s frequent absences at sea, it was he who had the ultimate say in the upbringing of his children. He was only 26 when Charles was born and harboured a young man’s ideal that he would like his first-born to be in his own image.

As Charles grew into a shy, diffident child, Philip was determined to make a man of his son and organised for him to be driven three times a week to a private gym in Chelsea where a small class of boys were instructed in physical training and boxing.

‘Philip tolerated Charles but he wasn’t a loving father,’ said Eileen Parker, the former wife of one of Philip’s closest friends, Mike Parker, when I interviewed her. ‘I think Charles was frightened of him. He became very quiet when Philip was around.’

Like his grandfather, George VI, and his great-grandfather, George V, Charles suffered from knock knees and had to wear orthopaedic shoes to correct his flat feet. He was ‘chesty’ like his mother and suffered unduly from colds.

But his hearty father made no concessions to such infirmity. His method of teaching Charles to swim, for instance, was to drag, or sometimes throw, him into the Buckingham Palace pool. On one occasion Charles’s nanny objected, raising her three-year-old charge’s ‘chestiness’. Philip replied: ‘It’s ridiculous to make such a fuss of him. There’s nothing wrong with him.’ So, in the protesting boy went.

The Parkers’ daughter, Julie, born a month after the young Prince, often went home from playing with Charles and asked her parents: ‘Why is Prince Philip cross with Charles? Why isn’t he nice to him?’

Charles still talks about the humiliating day his parents went to Gordonstoun to see him perform extremely credibly in the role of Macbeth (pictured)

Charles still talks about the humiliating day his parents went to Gordonstoun to see him perform extremely credibly in the role of Macbeth (pictured)

Charles still talks about the humiliating day his parents went to Gordonstoun to see him perform extremely credibly in the role of Macbeth (pictured)

Philip’s relationship with his more robust daughter, Anne, was completely different. He paid more attention to her than he did to his son simply because she was more responsive.

He laughed with Anne in a way he never did with Charles. He made acerbic remarks to tease her but she could deal with them, cheerfully braving his ridicule, saying anything she wanted and laughing back at him.

Anne is as like her father as Charles is unalike. She and Philip are energetic, brisk and efficient and both try to fit as much into a day as they possibly can.

‘A resilient character such as Philip, who sees being tough as a necessity for survival, wants to toughen up his son and his son is very sensitive,’ said Lady Edwina Mountbatten. ‘It hasn’t been easy for either of them.’

‘He just can’t resist coming out with these personal remarks,’ said Lady Kennard, a childhood friend of Princess Elizabeth and Philip. ‘He’s at his worst with Charles but he could be quite sarcastic with Anne, too.’

When it came to Charles’s education, Philip was adamant that his son should follow in his footsteps and attend Gordonstoun in the north of Scotland.

Philip had a dislike bordering on contempt for the British Establishment and many of its elitist institutions, such as England’s old-fashioned public schools.

To him, they smacked of unearned privilege – the breeding ground for an old boys’ network of which, as a foreign prince, he was not a member.

Discussions that included the Queen Mother, the Dean of Windsor and Earl Mountbatten were, Philip considered, a waste of time. He brought them to an end by ruling that what was good enough for him was good enough for his son. Charles loathed Gordonstoun. He found it hard to adapt to its austere environment, to rise to its athletic demands and to make friends. Toughest of all for the young Prince to bear was the attitude of the other boys.

He was immediately picked upon ‘maliciously, cruelly and without respite’, one fellow newcomer recalled. For example, one night a senior boy had the bright idea of making a tape recording of Prince Charles snoring. Waiting until he was asleep, several boys crept up to the open window of Charles’s dormitory and lowered a microphone by an extension cable to just above his head.

It was easy to do because Charles’s bed was next to one of the windows that by Gordonstoun regulations were always kept open.

The plan worked like a charm, and a little later that night the excited plotters listened gleefully to the loud snores of the future King on their tape recorders.

Luckily for Charles, his housemaster heard about the escapade and confiscated the tape. But one boy swears he made a second recording taken from the original on his own machine. So somewhere in Britain, in the privacy of a drawer, lies a historic tape of Prince Charles snoring.

Philip, on hearing of his son’s troubles, wrote to him encouraging him to ‘man up’ rather than sympathising with him. Charles still talks about the humiliating day his parents went to Gordonstoun to see him perform extremely credibly in the role of Macbeth.

‘I had to lie on a huge fur rug and have a nightmare,’ Charles remembers. ‘I lay there and thrashed about and all I could hear was my father and ha ha ha.

When it came to Charles’s education, Philip was adamant that his son should follow in his footsteps and attend Gordonstoun in the north of Scotland

When it came to Charles’s education, Philip was adamant that his son should follow in his footsteps and attend Gordonstoun in the north of Scotland

When it came to Charles’s education, Philip was adamant that his son should follow in his footsteps and attend Gordonstoun in the north of Scotland

‘I went to him afterwards and said “Why did you laugh?” and he said, “It sounds like the Goons.” ’

There was no way his father could turn Charles into the man he wanted him to be. Nor was he going to admit that his insistence on sending him to Gordonstoun was a mistake, or that Charles was going to step down from his stance that he had been ‘emotionally estranged’ from his parents, who had been ‘unable or unwilling’ to offer the kind of affection he craved.

I remember talking to Princess Diana about what she called Charles’s ‘emotional retentiveness’, which she put down to his childhood. Diana reckoned that if Charles had been brought up in the normal fashion, he would have been better able to handle his and her emotions.

Instead, she said, his feelings seemed to have been suffocated at birth. According to her, he never had any hands-on love from his parents. Only his nannies showed him affection but that, as Diana explained, was not the same as being kissed and cuddled by your parents, which Charles never was. When he met his parents, they didn’t embrace: they shook hands. Because of his upbringing he couldn’t be tactile with his own wife. She said: ‘The only thing he learned about love was shaking hands.’

The Windsor men are notorious for their short fuses and Charles was no exception. When he was angry with Diana, he would shout at her, scream and throw things and didn’t seem to be able to control himself. He would always apologise afterwards and Diana put it down to the way he had been so thoroughly spoilt as a little boy. So, according to Diana, Philip was not a particularly good parent. She also refused to allow her sons to go to Gordonstoun.

Being far tougher and of a completely different disposition, Princess Anne failed to notice the lack of tactile love. She had all the affection she wanted from her father and couldn’t understand Charles whingeing about his childhood, which she considered very happy.

So, according to Diana, Philip was not a particularly good parent. She also refused to allow her sons to go to Gordonstoun

So, according to Diana, Philip was not a particularly good parent. She also refused to allow her sons to go to Gordonstoun

So, according to Diana, Philip was not a particularly good parent. She also refused to allow her sons to go to Gordonstoun

But her first husband, Captain Mark Phillips, suffered from Anne’s emotional coldness and told Diana he never knew what was going to happen next. During their divorce, he said, it was particularly difficult because Anne never bothered to tell him anything at all.

WITH the birth of their third and fourth children, Andrew and Edward, the Queen and Philip took a different approach to parenthood. Philip, older by then and less driven to seek compensation for his disappointments, was less demanding of Andrew and Edward than he had been of Charles.

The Queen spent more time with Edward than she did with her elder children and his childhood was marked by an informality that would have been out of place in Charles and Anne’s day. But, as always, presiding over the young boys were not their parents, but nannies.

According to one, Mabel Anderson, Prince Philip ‘was a marvellous father. He always set aside time to read to them or help them put together those little model toys’. He helped Edward build plastic model ships from the kits popular at the time, which would adorn his Buckingham Palace bedroom.

‘I remember my mother would look after Edward and me in the evenings at the Palace, alone quite happily. It was a proper family,’ remembers Prince Andrew.

In fact, it was not quite as he remembered: when it was nanny’s evening off, the Queen went upstairs with a footman, who provided a gilt chair for her to sit on while she gave her children their bath. The footman remained in attendance to hold the towels.

At first glance Edward, whose youthful looks, as everyone remarked, were almost feminine in their delicacy, had seemed the very antithesis of his hearty, gruff father. But Edward was not as delicate as he looked – and nor was Philip as harsh – and as he grew up, Edward enjoyed a close rapport with his father.

Indeed, Philip’s belief that his children should have been allowed to make their own mistakes was illustrated when Edward decided to leave the Royal Marines. The popular account was that Philip had been furious. The truth was somewhat different

Indeed, Philip’s belief that his children should have been allowed to make their own mistakes was illustrated when Edward decided to leave the Royal Marines. The popular account was that Philip had been furious. The truth was somewhat different

Indeed, Philip’s belief that his children should have been allowed to make their own mistakes was illustrated when Edward decided to leave the Royal Marines. The popular account was that Philip had been furious. The truth was somewhat different

For all their superficial differences, Philip’s relationship with his youngest son is based on genuine respect on Edward’s part and equally genuine affection on Philip’s. The Duke is not a demonstrative man but in private he will affectionately put his arm around his son’s shoulder – he calls him ‘Ed’ – and give him a kiss.

It was Philip, for instance, not the Queen, who went to see Edward receive his degree on graduation from Jesus College, Cambridge. That Philip should take such an interest in his youngest son is perhaps unexpected.

After all, it was Andrew who followed in his father’s footsteps by going to the Royal Naval College, Dartmouth, and joined the Royal Navy, going on to serve his country in the 1982 Falklands War. But Philip’s relationship with his youngest child is conducted on a level of easy familiarity, which he had to a lesser extent with Andrew but certainly not with Charles.

Indeed, Philip’s belief that his children should have been allowed to make their own mistakes was illustrated when Edward decided to leave the Royal Marines.

The popular account was that Philip had been furious.

The truth was somewhat different. He made it very clear that the final decision had been Edward’s alone and his son would now face a very difficult period of adjustment.

As is often the case between younger and older generations, the Duke’s grandchildren find him easier than his children, in particular the Princess Royal’s son, Peter Phillips, who has always been a special favourite. Now nearing his 100th birthday, Prince Philip continues to enjoy his life. He spends most of his time at the refurbished Wood Farm on the Sandringham estate where, if he has to attend the occasional family get-together, he does it with good heart.

His staff have noted that since his car accident in January 2019, he has a renewed zest for life and has been far more cheerful, possibly because he feels he has been given a reprieve to get on with whatever remains of his life.

At last he is his own master, almost for the first time since he took command of his ship in the Royal Navy in 1950. He can keep his own timetable and get up to what he wants without an equerry or a private secretary telling him he has to be somewhere.

During his last years he has refused to give in to illness or infirmity, realising that to do so would deny him his final opportunity to understand what he had not understood before. I don’t think he has been afraid of death or afraid of life. His fear has been to leave things undone.

Shortly before Philip’s great friend Mike Parker died in 2001, he talked about Philip’s extraordinary work ethic, saying: ‘I don’t think he has let up. I’ve watched it over the years. And he keeps up this incredible pace.

‘I only hope the United Kingdom shows its gratitude for what he has done, for the constant flogging up hill and down dale and around the world and never really stopping. They’re the most extraordinarily lucky country to have him.’

© Ingrid Seward, 2020 

Abridged extract from Prince Philip Revealed, by Ingrid Seward, published by Simon & Schuster on October 1 at £20. To order a copy for £17, with free delivery, visit mailshop.co.uk/books or call 020 3308 9193 by September 27.

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Boris Johnson’s allies angered by ‘brutal and personal’ attack on the PM

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boris johnsons allies angered by brutal and personal attack on the pm

Boris Johnson is now a man with ‘misery etched on his face’ as Covid and money troubles wear down the formally ‘ebullient’ and ‘cajoling’ figure of old.

A deeply unflattering portrait published yesterday suggested that the combination of his own brush with death, dealing with the pandemic and personal financial concerns had taken a terrible toll on the usually jovial PM.

Mr Johnson was also said to be missing his former wife Marina Wheeler despite his loving relationship with new partner Carrie Symonds, the mother to his five-month- old son.

‘Carrie does genuinely love him and he loves her,’ one friend is said to have remarked. ‘But that’s very different from what came before…What Marina gave Boris was grounding. Proper grounding in the hinterland of his political views.’

Boris Johnson pictured during Prime Minister's Questions in the Commons on September 2

Boris Johnson pictured during Prime Minister's Questions in the Commons on September 2

Boris Johnson pictured during Prime Minister’s Questions in the Commons on September 2

The Prime Minister during a virtual press conference at Downing Street on September 9

The Prime Minister during a virtual press conference at Downing Street on September 9

The Prime Minister during a virtual press conference at Downing Street on September 9

The story of a Prime Minister weighed down and ‘subdued’ came in yesterday’s Times which quoted colleagues, friends and Government sources to suggest all was not well with the once irrepressible Boris.

Allies of Mr Johnson responded last night with anger at the gloomy portrayal of the Prime Minister’s mood, fitness and health. One voiced dismay at the ‘brutal’ and personal nature of the briefings given to the newspaper. 

But the reports come just one month after the father-in-law of key Johnson aide Dominic Cummings sparked speculation that Mr Johnson was hit so severely by his own serious Covid illness in the spring that he would quit No 10 in six months’ time.

Sir Humphry Wakefield apparently let slip the remark to a visitor to the family’s 13th Century, Grade I-listed Chillingham Castle in Northumberland, with the keen horse-rider warning: ‘If you put a horse back to work when it’s injured, it will never recover.’

The reports were strenuously denied by both Downing Street and Mr Johnson himself. However, the denials have not stopped even one senior Minister from privately speculating that the Prime Minister will not lead his party into the next Election expected in 2024.

And according to The Times yesterday, one witness present at a meeting with Tory MPs last week in Mr Johnson’s wood-panelled Commons office said: ‘He just seemed subdued. He was engaged but he certainly wasn’t as lively as you’d expect.’

The witness mused: ‘Does that go back to the illness? Is it the weight of responsibility or is it maybe just a recognition that he’s not always very well briefed on things? Most likely it’s some combination of all those.’

One senior Tory said to meet regularly with Mr Johnson had this opinion of how he was coping with the extraordinary challenges besetting him. ‘This is all weighing very heavily on him. I think you can see it even in some of his public appearances – the sort of misery etched on his face.

‘He doesn’t seem to be enjoying being at the helm in rough seas.’

The ‘all at sea’ analogy comes hot on the heels of an unexpected attack on the Prime Minister’s performance against Covid and Brexit from a traditional ally in the media – The Spectator magazine, which he used to edit. 

The Prime Minister is also said to be beset with worries over his personal finances and responsibilities. That involves still providing for four of his six children to different degrees and all that after going through an expensive divorce and seeing a dramatic drop in his income.

His income has dropped from more than £350,000 a year as a backbench MP – including a £275,000 contract with the Daily Telegraph – to just £150,000 as Prime Minister, out of which he also has tax liabilities for his Downing Street flat and has to pay for food sent up for him and Carrie.

Mr Johnson during a debate with Ed Miliband in the House of Commons on September 14

Mr Johnson during a debate with Ed Miliband in the House of Commons on September 14

Mr Johnson during a debate with Ed Miliband in the House of Commons on September 14

The Prime Minister giving evidence to the Commons Liaison Committee on September 16

The Prime Minister giving evidence to the Commons Liaison Committee on September 16

The Prime Minister giving evidence to the Commons Liaison Committee on September 16

One friend opined to The Times that ‘Boris, like other Prime Ministers, is very, very badly served. He doesn’t have a housekeeper – he has a single cleaner and they’re worried about being able to afford a nanny. He’s stuck in the flat and Downing Street is not a nice place to live.’ Another claimed: ‘He’s always worried about money, he has a genuine need to provide for his family, all of them, and I think that does worry him.’

As for his recovery from Covid, one witness told The Times: ‘He’s pin sharp one day and then he will say to somebody in his own inimitable way, ‘Why have you not briefed me on that?’ and he’ll be told, ‘You were told that yesterday.’ ‘

Some MPs, though, are worried about something more important than Mr Johnson’s bank balance – his health. While No 10 and Mr Johnson himself insist he made a full recovery from Covid-19 in April, others who deal with him are not so persuaded. One told The Times: ‘The recovery period for him has been really hard.

‘At the beginning he was not allowed to go to Chequers at weekends because of the ban on moving from one place to another.

‘The illness itself and having a baby was absolutely exhausting.’

Johnson aides reject those claims and point to his regular exercise regime – and the fact he has lost a stone and a half since leaving hospital. But added to all that, there were suggestions yesterday he could be missing the support of former wife Marina.

Insiders insist although he and Carrie love each other deeply, the relationship with Ms Symonds, 24 years his junior, is not the same in terms of support for Mr Johnson, despite the fact she is a former ministerial special adviser, ran the Tory Party’s press operation and is said to be a key source of advice to the PM behind the scenes.

One person said to know Ms Symonds and Ms Wheeler well said: ‘Carrie does genuinely love him and he loves her. But that’s very different from what came before, and the pressures of living in Downing Street with a young baby and partner, however accommodating she might be. It’s still bloody difficult.

‘Marina was his intellectual match and, in terms of his view, everything was run by her or through her. She was instrumental in the organisation of his life from an intellectual standpoint.

‘I don’t think it is quite the same relationship with Carrie.’

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