Carrie Johnson has claimed she is the target of a “brutal briefing campaign” from her husband’s “enemies” after she was accused of meddling in decisions taken by the prime minister.
A spokesperson for Boris Johnson’s wife said “bitter ex-officials” were trying to discredit her and insisted she played “no role in the government”.
It comes after a new biography written by Tory peer Lord Ashcroft, serialised in newspapers over the weekend, made claims about Mrs Johnson’s alleged influence on the PM’s decision-making.
Read more: Who is Carrie Johnson? PM’s wife whose influence inside No 10 is under scrutiny
Writing in the Daily Mail, Lord Ashcroft said his research had suggested her behaviour is preventing Mr Johnson “from leading Britain as effectively as the voters deserve”.
It has been alleged that Mrs Johnson has been caught up in a number of scandals involving the prime minister, including suggestions she pushed for the luxury redecoration of the Downing Street flat they live in and that she was key in the decision over evacuation of animals from the Nowzad charity from Kabul.
Number 10 has denied Mr and Mrs Johnson had any involvement in the evacuation.
In a rare statement, Mrs Johnson’s spokesperson told Sky News: “Yet again Mrs Johnson has been targeted by a brutal briefing campaign against her by enemies of her husband.
“This is just the latest attempt by bitter ex-officials to discredit her. She is a private individual who plays no role in government.”
Mr Johnson’s future as prime minister remains uncertain as several Conservative MPs have publicly called for him to resign over his handling of the partygate scandal.
Mrs Johnson reportedly attended the surprise birthday gathering for her husband in June 2020 which is being investigated by police for allegedly breaking lockdown rules.
She is also reported to have attended an alleged party in the couple’s flat on the day Dominic Cummings left Downing Street in November 2020, which is being probed by officers.
Mr Cummings, the prime minister’s former chief aide who has been one of Mrs Johnson’s most vocal critics, has previously claimed she wanted to “get rid” of him from Number 10 and tried to “appoint her friends to particular jobs”.
Read more: All you need to know about Met Police probe into Downing Street parties
However allies of the PM’s wife – who is the Conservative Party’s former communications chief – have dismissed criticism of her as sexist.
Journalist Sarah Vine, the ex-wife of cabinet minister Michael Gove, said the focus on Mrs Johnson was “the equivalent of political slut shaming”.
She told the BBC’s Sunday Morning programme: “The trouble is, it’s always the easiest thing to do to blame the woman and the truth is far more complicated than that.
“If Boris Johnson has given Carrie too much access or too much leeway, that’s sort of his fault. He is the person in charge. He is the prime minister.”
Former chancellor George Osborne said: “Whatever the flaws and faults of the Boris Johnson government – or indeed its successes – they are the responsibility of Boris, not his wife Carrie. Let’s move on from this misogynistic Lady Macbeth nonsense.”
Meanwhile, Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng said that Mrs Johnson was “under scrutiny in a way that perhaps other prime ministers’ spouses weren’t”, but claimed reporting about her was not sexist.
Mrs Johnson – who became the Conservative Party’s director of communications when she was aged just 29 – married Mr Johnson last year and the couple have two children together.