Boris Johnson, fiancee announce birth of 'healthy baby boy'

Aditi Khanna

London, Apr 29 (PTI) British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and fiancee Carrie Symonds on Wednesday announced the birth of a ‘healthy baby boy’.

The birth is believed to be slightly premature but both mother and baby are said to be doing very well.

It is understood that Johnson, who has just recovered from coronavirus, was present throughout the birth, at a government-run hospital in London.

Johnson is set to miss his first Prime Minister's Questions (PMQs) in the House of Commons with the newly-elected Opposition Labour Leader Keir Starmer, who congratulated the UK PM on the “wonderful news”.

“The Prime Minister and Symonds are thrilled to announce the birth of a healthy baby boy at a London hospital earlier this morning,” a spokesperson for the couple said on Wednesday.

“Both mother and baby are doing very well. The PM and Ms Symonds would like to thank the fantastic National Health Service (NHS) maternity team,” the spokesperson said.

The news comes days after Johnson, 55, returned to 10 Downing Street on Monday after his hospitalisation for complications from COVID-19. He had been recuperating at his Chequers countryside retreat in Buckinghamshire, where he had been joined by his pregnant fiancee.

Symonds had taken to Twitter earlier this month to express her relief at Johnson's discharge from hospital with a series of clapping hands emoticons alongside a picture of a rainbow, which has emerged as the symbol of support for the country's NHS through the course of the pandemic fightback.

The 32-year-old herself had been previously self-isolating with the couple’s dog Dilyn after she developed symptoms of coronavirus but later revealed she was “on the mend”.

The couple had announced their engagement at the end of February, when it was also revealed that they were expecting their first baby in the summer.

Congratulations began pouring in on social media as the news of the birth hit the headlines, with UK Health Secretary Matt Hancock saying: 'So thrilled for Boris and Carrie. Wonderful to have a moment of unalloyed joy!' Indian-origin finance minister Rishi Sunak, Johnson’s neighbour as the Chancellor based at No. 11 Downing Street, said it was “great to hear Downing Street is getting a new resident”.

Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said: 'Some good news - sending congratulations to Carrie and the PM. And wishing health and happiness to the wee one.' Commons Speaker Sir Lindsay Hoyle congratulated the couple 'on behalf of everyone in the House of Commons,' adding: 'Such happy news amid so much uncertainty - 2020 is certainly a year they will never forget.' The baby becomes the third to be born to a British Prime Minister in office.

The last child born to a sitting UK prime minister belonged to David and Samantha Cameron, who welcomed Florence Rose Endellion into their family in August 2010. A decade earlier in 2000, former prime minister Tony Blair and wife Cherie had their fourth child, Leo, at Downing Street.

Symonds, who works for an ocean conservation charity Oceana, met Johnson during her time as the communications chief for the Conservative Party when he was the Mayor of London in 2012. In July 2019, they became the first unmarried couple to move into Downing Street together.

The news of their impending wedding and baby were made public soon after Johnson's divorce from his Indian-origin ex-wife Marina Wheeler was finalised in February.

Wheeler, whose mother Dip Singh hailed from Punjab, is a barrister and columnist who has four grown up children with Johnson. Johnson and Wheeler had separated in 2018 and announced their divorce plans soon after reports of Johnson’s affair with Symonds became public.

His marriage to Symonds will be Johnson’s third, following his divorce from first wife Allegra Mostyn-Owen and then second wife Marina Wheeler, and their child will be his sixth, four with Wheeler and a fifth following an affair with art consultant Helen Macintyre. PTI AK AMS AKJ AMS