03:30 GMT25 October 2020
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    Investigative author Tom Bower's book, Boris Johnson: The Gambler, is due to be published on 15 October, offerings insights into the varied life of the UK's Prime Minister.

    Just a week after Boris Johnson launched his campaign to take over from then-prime minister Theresa May in 2019, his team found itself torn from within over a spate of differences that had been building up over time, the investigative author Tom Bower writes in his new book, Boris Johnson: The Gambler.

    ​According to an extract published by the Daily Mail before the book’s release on 15 October, Sir Lynton Crosby, an Australian political strategist who managed Johnson’s successful election campaign to become London Mayor, was “frozen out” by Johnson’s girlfriend Carrie Symonds.

    Symonds is said to have been convinced that Crosby was responsible for her being forced out of Conservative Central Office on allegations of abusing her expenses to the tune of thousands of pounds, as well as a spate of negative media stories.
    That is reportedly when Johnson decided that Dominic Cummings was “critical” to his potential campaign success.

    'Career Psychopath'

    Cummings' arrival is presented in the book as having only added fuel to the fire within Johnson’s circle.

    Dominic Cummings, political advisor to Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson, leaves 10 Downing Street, in London
    © AP Photo / Alberto Pezzali
    Dominic Cummings, political advisor to Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson, leaves 10 Downing Street, in London

    Dubbed a "career psychopath" by former Prime Minister David Cameron, "an unelected foul-mouthed oaf throwing his weight around" by Tory MP Oliver Letwin, and an "aggressive bully" by yet another former prime minister Sir John Major.

    Troubled Childhood

    Boris Johnson learnt on the morning of 23 July that he had won the Tory leadership election with 66 per cent of the vote. However, when sharing his emotions over the triumph he dismissed his father Stanley's outstretched hand during the ceremony at the Queen Elizabeth II Centre in London.

    ​This rejection, writes Bower, is yet another reminder that Stanley Patrick Johnson had failed to be there for his offspring at moments when they most needed him.

    The current Prime Minister's "toxic childhood" is suggested by the author as having hugely affected his later life since there was an "absence of any home warmth", particularly after the parents’ divorce.

    Battle with Pandemic Amid Family Tensions

    Tensions within the family flared anew when Johnson found out that he had tested positive for the coronavirus, writes the book's author.

    In early April, Johnson announced that he was experiencing “mild symptoms” of COVID-19 and would put himself in isolation. However, on 5 April the Prime Minister’s life was deemed to be in danger, and he was rushed to St Thomas' Hospital.

    As Johnson’s lungs had previously been weakened by pneumonia, the medical team moved fast to pump him with a mix of anticoagulants, antivirals, antibiotics and litres of oxygen.

    “An hour later, a doctor confessed to Johnson that he had come close to dying”, says the book. Even after he was placed in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU), the fight to save Boris Johnson’s life continued.

    A survival forecast of 50 per cent was reportedly given for the Prime Minister, and the issue of whether he would need to be put on a ventilator was mooted.

    As Johnson’s life hung in the balance, the family atmosphere continued to be governed by unresolved tensions.

    Some six months earlier, says Bower, Jo Johnson, a Remainer, had quit as Universities Minister, claiming he was torn apart by family loyalty and issues of national interest.

    Passions ran high between Boris and his ex-wife Marina's children after Father Stanley had been witnessed on TV conversing with Symonds at a Tory Conference.

    Both Stanley and the Prime Minister’s sister Rachel were convinced, after speaking with the medics, that in the course of the next few hours Johnson’s children should see him, perhaps for the last time.

    However, ex-wife Marina refused to speak to Stanley, leaving it up to sister Rachel to phone her about the Prime Minister's condition. As she asked to use the landline in Stanley's neighbouring house to make the call, a huge row broke out, writes the author.

    Rachel was warned that she should stay away from Stanley's house, as her trips to London meant she might infect him with COVID-19.

    ​Although in the long-run reason prevailed and Marina was given the news of the Prime Minister's grave condition, says Bower, some of the couple’s children decided to visit their father in hospital, despite lingering resentment because of how their mother was treated.

    Apparently, at Downing Street, aides had prepared for the worst, with obituaries commissioned.

    “It was a tough old moment. I won't deny it. They had a strategy to deal with a 'death of Stalin'- type scenario. I was not in particularly brilliant shape and I was aware there were contingency plans in place,” Boris Johnson later said, recalling his time battling the coronavirus.


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    Dominic Cummings, Carrie Symonds, coronavirus, COVID-19, Boris Johnson
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