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Boris and Carrie Johnson host wedding party at Tory donor’s Cotswolds estate

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Boris and Carrie Johnson celebrated their wedding at the grand Cotswolds estate of a major Tory donor, with guests including staunch loyalists Jacob Rees-Mogg and Nadine Dorries.

The outgoing prime minister and his wife hosted family and friends at 18th-century Daylesford House to celebrate their nuptials with a wider circle, after the pandemic forced them to scale back festivities last year.

The thrice-wed groom’s 81-year-old father Stanley Johnson and sister Rachel Johnson were there to mark his latest marriage, while Australian actor Holly Valance was also seen pulling into the estate.

Political allies who were also pictured arriving included international environment minister Zac Goldsmith and Tory MP John Whittingdale, as well as cabinet colleagues Mr Rees-Mogg and Ms Dorries.

There were questions over whether defectors from Mr Johnson’s government would be culled from the guest list, with former health secretary Sajid Javid among those who were not spotted arriving.

Former chancellor Rishi Sunak and current foreign secretary Liz Truss also missed the party, both being engaged in campaigning as the contest to be the next prime minister continues.

Perhaps a less welcome guest was anti-Brexit protester Steve Bray, who pitched up on a road near the wedding venue with a giant banner reading “Corrupt Tory government ... Get them out now”.

Brexit protester Steve Bray was spotted with an anti-Tory banner outside the venue (PA)
Brexit protester Steve Bray was spotted with an anti-Tory banner outside the venue (PA)

Ms Truss, on a campaign visit to Bromley, defended Mr Johnson for holding the lavish celebrations at a time when millions are struggling with unaffordable bills.

Asked whether the prime minister should concentrate on the crises facing the country instead of partying, she told reporters: “I think he’s entitled to enjoy his wedding day, and I wish the best to him and Carrie and all the family.”

The event was held in a huge white marquee in the expansive landscaped grounds of Daylesford House in Gloucestershire. The Grade I-listed mansion is owned by Anthony Bamford, chair of construction equipment manufacturer JCB, who has donated millions to the Conservatives.

Boris Johnson’s father Stanley was seen driving to the wedding party on Saturday (PA)
Boris Johnson’s father Stanley was seen driving to the wedding party on Saturday (PA)

Staff were seen going in and out of the bunting-topped tent earlier this week as preparations for the party took place.

Guests were able to relax on hay bales and benches placed outside the marquee, and eat and drink at casks and small tables as they enjoyed views across vast meadows and orchards.

Mr and Mrs Johnson had been planning to throw their wedding party at the prime minister’s official country residence, Chequers, in Buckinghamshire. This led to speculation that Mr Johnson wanted to stay on as caretaker prime minister in order to pursue those plans, although the suggestion was denied by Downing Street.

The couple were said to have sent out save-the-date cards for a celebration on 30 July, before deciding to change the location.

Mr and Mrs Johnson were married in a low-key private ceremony at Westminster Cathedral last year, organised in secret, in front of a small group of family and friends. This was followed by a reception in the gardens of 10 Downing Street, with a limited number of guests because of coronavirus restrictions.

It was known that the couple planned to have a larger celebration this year after the restrictions had been relaxed.

Billionaire Lord Bamford is covering at least some of the cost of the party, the Mirror reported, quoting unnamed sources. It is not the first time Mr Johnson has benefited from the JCB chair’s backing. During his 2019 leadership bid, which was supported by Lord Bamford, Mr Johnson knocked down a wall with a JCB digger at the company’s Staffordshire factory, in a stunt intended to show that he could “get Brexit done”.

Lord Bamford’s wife, Carole Bamford, set up the upmarket Daylesford Organic Farm, with a chain of shops selling its produce across London.

Mr Johnson reportedly received food from the Daylesford farm shop worth an estimated £12,500 during the pandemic, though Downing Street said he had paid for the cost of all food intended for “personal consumption”.

When asked about the wedding celebrations, No 10 declined to comment on them, saying they were a “private matter”.

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