The baby was born just days after the British leader returned to work, having recovered from a serious case of covid-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus. Symonds also had been sick with the coronavirus but suffered a more moderate course of the illness.
“The prime minister and Ms Symonds are thrilled to announce the birth of a healthy baby boy at a London hospital earlier this morning,” the spokeswoman’s statement read.
The couple thanked “the fantastic NHS maternity team,” referring to the National Health Service. The BBC reported that Johnson was understood to be at the hospital for the birth.
Other questions remained: What does a man named Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson call his son? No name has yet been announced.
And will Johnson take the two weeks of paternity leave that fathers in Britain are allowed? In 2010, David Cameron became the first British prime minister to take paternity leave while in office. Paid paternity leave was introduced in Britain in 2003.
There were words of congratulations for Johnson and Symonds in Parliament.
“Whatever differences we have in this House, as human beings I think we all recognize the anxiety that the prime minister and Carrie must have gone through in these past few weeks,” opposition Labour Party leader Keir Starmer said.
Robert Peston, a British broadcaster who hosts a weekly political discussion show on ITV, tweeted: “Having babies change us. Near-death experiences change us. @BorisJohnson has the full set. So will he become a very different PM from the one the UK voted for in December?”
Johnson, probably the world’s most famous coronavirus patient, was stricken with the virus at the end of March. He spent days in self-isolation before being admitted to St. Thomas’ Hospital with a persistent cough, fever and shortness of breath. At the hospital, he was transferred to an intensive care unit and given “oxygen therapy.” His aides say he was not put on a mechanical ventilator.
Upon his release, Johnson revealed the severity of his illness, saying there were times in the hospital “when it could have gone either way.” Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said “it was touch and go.”
Johnson spent two weeks recovering at the prime minister’s official countryside manor, Chequers, and returned to work only on Monday.
Johnson and Symonds announced in February that they were engaged and expecting their first child. The couple have said they planned to wed in early summer.
Johnson is 55, and this will be his third marriage. It will be the first for Symonds, 32, a former communications strategist for the Conservative Party.
That Johnson and Symonds are the first unmarried couple to live together at the prime minister’s official residence hasn’t fazed the British public. Pollsters found most Brits shrugged.
Johnson has four children with Marina Wheeler, a lawyer he was married to for nearly 27 years. They agreed on a divorce settlement in February. He allegedly has another child from an extramarital affair. Johnson is intensely private when it comes to his family and has refused to answer questions on how many children he has. His Wikipedia entry was updated Wednesday morning to say he has “6 or 7” children.
Johnson would be the first prime minister to marry while in office in nearly 200 years. Though he isn’t the first prime minister to have a baby while in office, it is not common.
Cameron and his wife, Samantha, had a daughter shortly after he became prime minister. Tony Blair and his wife, Cherie, had a son in 2000, three years into Blair’s decade in office. Before Blair, no serving prime minister had become a parent for more than 150 years.
Rishi Sunak, Britain’s finance secretary and a neighbor of the prime minister’s, tweeted Wednesday, “Great to hear Downing Street is getting a new resident.”
One social media user quipped it was the “most elaborate plan to get out of PMQs ever.” Prime Minister’s Questions are the weekly grilling that takes place in the House of Commons.