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Inside politics

A marriage made in No 10

Munira Mirza and Boris Johnson. Photo by Ian Gavan/Getty Images

The real power couple at No 10 isn’t Boris and Carrie, it’s Dougie Smith and Munira Mirza, says Gordon Rayner in the Telegraph. Smith, the 59-year-old fixer, is so shadowy only one known picture of him exists online and he appears on no known adviser lists. He has the air of a man “who might at any moment headbutt you”. While speechwriting for Tory MPs in his forties, his side hustle was organising sex parties in which he enthusiastically took part. “It’s more action than any man could dream of,” he said, describing his customers as “the SAS of sex”.

That changed when he met Mirza, currently head of the No 10 policy unit, and married her in 2008 (they had a son in 2013). She flirted with the Revolutionary Communist Party as a PhD student and contributed to Living Marxism. Today, the 43-year-old is best known for leading the Tories’ “war on woke”. While Mirza is smart, Smith is scruffy and the two of them maintain a professional distance. So much so that senior staffers still quietly slag off Mirza to Smith, or vice versa, “not realising until it’s too late that their confidant is the spouse of their victim”.

The pandemic has helped boost the centre left

Populist pundits hailing the death of Europe’s centre left have been somewhat premature, says Denis Macshane in The Independent. The Norwegian Labour Party has won the country’s recent election. The Nordic left are now governing all of Scandinavia. The next German chancellor could well be social democrat Olaf Scholz. It’s partly down to the pandemic, which has “resurrected” the need for a big state. The “token lip service” the right pays to climate change doesn’t impress voters much either. And Joe Biden’s election in the US has boosted left-wing morale across the Atlantic. But the European winners are “pro-business” and tough on immigration, lessons our own Labour party aren’t very good at learning.