Boris Johnson’s close friends and colleagues say the ‘subdued’ and ‘moody’ Prime Minister is worrying and complaining about money after his earnings shrank from over £350,000 a year down to £150,000.
Those in contact with Mr Johnson claim the embattled premier, usually jovial and ebullient, has ‘misery etched on his face’ as he struggles to cope with ever-growing political and personal pressures.
The Prime Minister is understood to detest being ‘at the helm in rough seas’ as his ‘longstanding tendency for dark moods’ is exacerbated by the twin problems of coronavirus and Brexit – both serious problems partly of his own making which threaten to jeopardise his standing at the next General Election.
Meanwhile friends allege that he is moaning about having sacrificed his Daily Telegraph column (£275,000) and lucrative speaking engagements for his prime ministerial salary (£150,000).
Though this is a tidy sum of money for most, Mr Johnson is complaining about supporting four of his six children through university and coming out the other side of an expensive divorce from his ex-wife Marina Wheeler.
His use of the flat he shares with fiancee Carrie Symonds above No 11 is taxed as a benefit in kind, while he also has to pay for food sent up from the Downing Street kitchen.
The couple are even charged by the Government if they want to host friends at Mr Johnson’s Chequers country retreat.
All of this has left the ‘badly served’ Prime Minister in a foul mood, without a housekeeper and ‘worried about being able to afford a nanny’ for baby Wilfred, his friends claim.
One friend told The Times: ‘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. It’s not like the Élysée or the White House where you can get away from it all because they’re so big. Even if he or Carrie want to go into the rose garden they have to go through the office.’
Senior Conservatives who meet regularly with the Prime Minister said the twin political crises of coronavirus and Brexit have knocked his confidence and usually-optimistic mood.
They point to the fact that Mr Johnson’s ‘madman’ threat to renege on his own Brexit divorce deal from the EU and flout international law has led to a ferocious backbench revolt and public criticism.
Meanwhile, the Prime Minister is trying to balance panic among public health officials of rising cases of coronavirus and a growing temptation to impose a second national lockdown with the need to keep Britain’s economy afloat, after the March shutdown tanked UK plc.
‘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,’ a Tory said.
‘He just seemed subdued. He was engaged but he certainly wasn’t as lively as you’d expect,’ said another. ‘You can speculate – 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.’