As Boris' ex-wife Marina Wheeler joins Labour, here's what really broke down their marriage

Marina Wheeler was married to Boris Johnson for 25 tumultuous years. Now, she is taking on a new role for the Labour party.

Marina Wheeler Borris Johnson ex-wife Labour sexual harassment advisor
© Bloomberg / GETTYIMAGES
Marina Wheeler Borris Johnson ex-wife Labour sexual harassment advisor

Boris Johnson was married to his second wife, employment lawyer Marina Wheeler, for 25 years. The pair married in 1993 and have four children together. They announced their divorce in 2018 and in 2019, Marina was diagnosed with cervical cancer. Marina is now cancer-free and was recently appointed as Labour’s advisor on protecting employees against workplace harassment.

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Boris Johnson is now married to Carrie Symonds and they have 3 children together. So what happened between Boris and Marina that pushed her to say that life with him had become ‘impossible’? And what exactly will she be doing in her new role?

Boris Johnson and Marina Wheeler’s relationship

Boris met his first wife, Allegra Mostyn-Owen, at university. They got married when they were both 23 but divorced after 6 years together. Shortly after their separation, Boris married his childhood friend Marina Wheeler. She was reportedly already pregnant with their eldest child when they tied the knot.

Marina Wheeler is a successful barrister specialising in human rights within public law. Unfortunately, her years married to Boris were rocked by infidelity. While he was editor at The Spectator, he had an affair with one of his columnists, Petronella Wyatt. In 2004 the affair came to light, and Boris was forced to quit as shadow arts minister and party vice-chairman for having misled then-Conservative leader Michael Howard about his behaviour. Marina threw him out over it, but ended up taking him back.

In 2009, Boris had another affair with Helen Macintyre and in 2013, following a court battle, it was revealed that Boris was the father of Helen’s child Stephanie.

Unsurprisingly, the end of Marina and Boris’ marriage was brought about by yet another indiscretion: Boris was having an affair with Carrie Symonds. Their divorce was finalised in 2020 and Boris married Carrie the following year.

Marina Wheeler as Labour’s sexual harassment advisor

Marina Wheeler will be working for Labour as she examines how to make it easier for employees to call out bullying and discrimination in the workplace. Workplace whistleblowers are already protected from unfair dismissal, but this law only applies under specific circumstances - for example, when a criminal offence has been committed.

Labour wants to expand this protection for people who want to speak out against inappropriate behaviourfrom their bosses without facing backlash in their career. This is something that affects women in particular, as attorney general Emily Thornberry explained at the Labour conference on Tuesday 3 October:

For too long, a woman suffering sexual harassment in the workplace has faced a terrible choice: if she speaks out, the individual responsible may be investigated, but even then, she still risks losing her job and her other employment rights, while he gets a slap on the wrist.

Marina Wheeler expressed her enthusiasm for the role in a statement:

Having spent over two decades litigating employment disputes, I am delighted to be working with Emily Thornberry to help formulate solutions - including law reform where necessary - to encourage women to come forward.

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Sources used:

BBC: Boris Johnson's ex-wife Marina Wheeler is Labour's sex harassment adviser

Independent: Boris Johnson’s ex-wife Marina Wheeler opens up on ending ‘impossible’ marriage to PM

The Sun: LADIES' MAN: Boris Johnson’s ex-wives and past relationships explained – from Marina Wheeler to Helen Mcintyre

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