Allies of Boris Johnson have dismissed “incorrect” claims that his fiancée Carrie Symonds is playing a leading role in the Government.
Tory think tank The Bow Group has called for an independent inquiry into her alleged influence in No 10 amid ongoing rumours about tensions at the heart of government.
But the British Prime Minister’s press secretary Allegra Stratton gave the claims short shrift, saying that there would be no response to the think tank’s call.
The Bow Group said an inquiry should look at Ms Symonds’ “possible influence” in government hiring and appointments.
It comes after two allies of Ms Symonds, Baroness Finn and Henry Newman, were appointed as key advisers in No 10.
Their rise followed the departure of former Vote Leave figures Dominic Cummings, Lee Cain and Oliver Lewis from No 10 in recent months.
Ben Harris-Quinney, chairman of the Bow Group, said Ms Symonds “currently holds no official role in the Conservative Party or the government, yet consistent reports in the press suggest that Ms Symonds is taking a central role in running the country, without any authority or accountability to do so”.
But Ms Stratton said “it’s incorrect” to say Ms Symonds has a central role in Government.
She began a new job working for wildlife charity The Aspinall Foundation at the end of January.
Meanwhile, the Prime Minister was focused on the response to coronavirus, Ms Stratton said.
Conservative MP Laura Trott questioned whether some of the hostile briefing against Ms Symonds could be because she is a woman.
The Sevenoaks MP, who worked in the No 10 Policy Unit during David Cameron’s premiership, told BBC Radio 4’s Westminster Hour: “I used to work with Carrie, she’s an incredibly talented and able person and I think there should be some consideration given... about whether some of these things would be said about a man.
“It’s very distasteful and I think it’s incredibly unnecessary.”
Asked whether Mr Johnson felt there was an element of sexism in the allegations against his fiancée, Ms Stratton said: “That’s something I have heard him say.”
Yesterday Mr Johnson announced plans to reopen England’s schools and allow people to see family and friends, part of a phased exit from Covid-19 lockdown underpinned by one of the world’s fastest vaccine roll-outs.
With more than 120,000 deaths, Britain has suffered the world’s fifth-highest official death toll from the pandemic and its $3trn economy its biggest crash in over 300 years.
But a fast start to the vaccine roll-out plus a sharp fall in infections mean Mr Johnson can now set out a cautious easing of England’s tough national lockdown, which started on January 5.
New cases across the UK hovered around 11,000 a day last week, compared with a high of over 80,000 in late December.
“Our decisions will be made on the basis of the latest data at every step, and we will be cautious about this approach so that we do not undo the progress we have achieved so far,” Mr Johnson said on Twitter.