Kara Kennedy: What odds a male spouse in the house at No 10?



FROM Cherie Blair to Carrie Johnson, the spouses of our Prime Ministers have always faced scrutiny.

As the Tory leadership contest continues, and the weakest links are whittled down, there seems to be a big chance that the UK will get its third first husband.

The role of the first spouse – male or female – is thankless. Throughout history, we have seen that they will be criticised regardless of where on the spectrum they fall.

Carrie Johnson was accused of taking on the American role of the political spouse. Throughout her husband’s tenure, she was slammed for her supposed influence on policy, and accused of whispering prompts in her husband’s ear.

On the other side of that is Norma Major, who displayed little interest in politics and once said that she had no problem with being described simply as a wife and mother.

First husbands are more obscure. After all, we’ve only had two, a number too small for any kind of focus group. But the two we’ve had, Denis Thatcher and Philip May, did have similar attributes. 

Both were happy to remain in the background politically, but both were described as their wife’s most trusted advisors. A far cry from the public FLOTUS role of their American counterparts.

So who will be next? If we cast Rishi Sunak, frontrunner and the bookie’s favourite aside, our next first husband could be Hugh O’Leary.

An accountant, and married to Liz Truss for 20 years, O’Leary seems like he would make a steadfast aid for his wife in Number 10. They met at the Tory Party conference in 1997 and went on their first date soon after, where O’Leary sprained his ankle ice skating. 

In some ways it is a pity that Kemi Badenoch was eliminated yesterday. Had she won, the 42-year-old would have been the youngest Prime Minister since Lord Liverpool. 

Her husband since 2012, Hamish Badenoch, works at Deutsche Bank. The pair met at the Dulwich and West Norwood Conservative Club where he would go on to help Kemi deliver her leaflets.

Kemi later admitted that Hamish took a step back from politics so that he can support her in her pursuits. Such selflessness would be a fine attribute for a potential first husband.

Penny Mordaunt, who finished second in the Tory MPs’ vote yesterday, is single. Cue the cries from stuffy Conservatives, questioning how the nation would possibly deal with a single Prime Minister who could be on the dating scene. I think this could be a great thing. 

Think about it:she could never be accused of being influenced by a spouse, not in the same way Boris Johnson was.

There is something admirable about her being willing to take on the often lonely job of Prime Minister without the support of a spouse, and there is also something great about potentially seeing the Prime Minister on Tinder. 





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