LONDON — Forget the rancor and division, there is plenty of love in Westminster this Valentine’s Day.
Romance has blossomed among the new political movers and shakers since POLITICO last compiled its guide to the power couples you need to know.
Here is your Valentine’s Day guide to the top Westminster pairings.
Downing Street duo
Boris Johnson is one half of Westminster’s ultimate power couple. After becoming prime minister last July he moved into No. 10 Downing Street with the Conservatives’ former Director of Communications Carrie Symonds.
Symonds is the first unmarried partner of a British prime minister to reside in No. 10 Downing Street
The relationship was first spotted by colleagues in February 2018 when the top Tories both attended the Conservative Party’s notoriously lavish, annual Black and White fundraising ball. They had a Valentine’s Day dinner at Rules restaurant in London’s Covent Garden, according to the Sun, which broke the news of the relationship.
Symonds is the first unmarried partner of a British prime minister to reside in No. 10 Downing Street, where the couple are joined by rescue puppy Dilyn, who was out on the campaign trail during the December election.
Symonds, who has no formal role in the government but is reported to still wield considerable influence, now works for Bloomberg’s ocean conservation program.
Johnson’s most powerful and feared adviser Dominic Cummings’ marriage to the Tory cheerleading Spectator magazine’s commissioning editor Mary Wakefield has been well-documented. Wakefield penned a piece in December 2018 about what it was like to see top actor Benedict Cumberbatch play her husband in Channel 4’s « Brexit: The Uncivil War » film.
Cummings is not the only adviser in a political marriage. Munira Mirza, one of two woman Johnson tasked with writing his election-winning manifesto and who how heads his policy unit, is married to David Cameron’s former speechwriter Dougie Smith, who hit the headlines for this venture.
The other woman who wrote Johnson’s manifesto, Rachel Wolf, a former adviser to Michael Gove, co-founded the lobbying body Public First with her husband James Frayne, former director of communications at the Department for Education and columnist with the Tory grassroots website Conservative Home. He coined the phrase “Just About Managing,” a demographic of voters that were the focus of many of Theresa May’s policies when she was prime minister.
Johnson’s Deputy Chief of Staff Liam Booth-Smith is dating communities and housing adviser Olivia Oates.
Sophia True, who was special adviser to Nicky Morgan at the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, and No. 10’s Declan Lyons are also an item.
Former SpAds Richard Holden and Charlotte Ivers, now respectively a Tory MP and a TalkRADIO political correspondent, are also together.
Over at the Liberal Democrats, MP Layla Moran, who is considering a run to replace Jo Swinson as leader, announced she is in a relationship with the party’s former head of media Rosy Cobb in January.
Former Jeremy Corbyn spokesman James Schneider and economic commentator Grace Blakeley are an item.
Love in the house
There are currently four MP pairings.
Labour MPs Ellie Reeves and John Cryer juggled fighting to be reelected in December with the arrival of their second child. Mother of the House of Commons Harriet Harman, the longest continuously serving female MP, was joined in Westminster by her husband Jack Dromey following the 2010 election.
On the Tory benches, Andrea Jenkyns and Jack Lopresti married in 2017. Former housing minister Esther McVey and Tory backbencher Philip Davies, who have a joint office in parliament, got engaged last year.
The former Shadow Brexit Minister Jenny Chapman, who lost her seat in December and is now running Keir Starmer’s Labour leadership campaign, is married to shadow whip Nick Smith.
Alan Beith, who sits in the House of Lords, is married to former president of the Liberal Democrats and fellow peer Diana Maddock.
There are several political pairings that span the House of Commons and House of Lords.
Leader of the House of Lords Natalie Evans is married to former No. 10 adviser and now newly elected MP James Wild. They met while both working in the economics section of the Conservative Research Department. Bernard and Anne Jenkin, respectively Tory MP and peer, met at the 1984 Conservative Party conference in Brighton.
The close working proximity of those in power and those holding them to account makes it inevitable that alliances have formed across the Chinese wall
Conservative MP John Penrose is married to Cheltenham Racecourse board member and non-executive director of the Bank of England Diana « Dido » Harding, who also sits in the House of Lords as Lady Harding of Winscombe.
Labour MP Jon Cruddas is married to long-serving Labour Party special adviser Anna Healy, who was made a life peer in 2010 and sits in the House of Lords.
Rory Stewart’s chief of staff and director of comms Lizzie Loudon and Onward think tank director Will Tanner got married in Scotland last year.
Managing director at the British Foreign Policy Group Sophia Gaston is married to the FT’s Whitehall Correspondent Sebastian Payne.
Matt Goshko, director of press at the U.S. Embassy, is married to Susannah Goshko, who runs the private office of the foreign secretary.
Labour MP Stephen Kinnock is married to the former Danish prime minister, now CEO of Save the Children International, Helle Thorning-Schmidt.
Matthew and Sarah Elliott are the very definition of a transatlantic power couple. While Matthew has long been around U.K. politics and chaired the Vote Leave campaign, Sarah chairs Republicans Overseas in the U.K. and can often be found in the broadcast studios chatting U.S. politics. They are expecting their second baby.
Alliances across the divide
While journalists and politicians (and their advisers) are meant to be on opposing sides, the close working proximity of those in power and those holding them to account makes it inevitable that alliances have formed across the Chinese wall.
The Guardian’s Social Affairs Editor Amelia Gentlemen, who has led the charge in reporting on the Windrush scandal, is married to former minister Jo Johnson, who resigned from his brother’s government over Brexit.
Exeter MP and former Culture Secretary Ben Bradshaw is married to BBC producer Neal Dalgleish.
The first Cabinet minister couple to marry, home affairs committee chairperson Yvette Cooper and former Shadow Chancellor Ed Balls, now straddle the political journalism divide. Balls is busy making documentaries on populism for the BBC.