Boris Johnson has attracted criticism from parents on social media for wearing baby Wilfred’s sling ‘too low’ while on a walk with Carrie Symonds in Scotland.
Yesterday photographs of the prime minister’s staycation in the Highlands emerged showing the loved-up politician enjoying walks with his fiancée, 32, their four-month-old son and dog Dilyn.
In one snap shared to Miss Symonds’ Instagram, Mr Johnson, 56, donned heavy-duty walking boots as he strolled with his baby strapped to his chest near their holiday home in Applecross, Scotland.
But several people took to Twitter to call out the PM for wearing his son’s papoose incorrectly, with some concerned for the little one’s wellbeing.
One tweeted: ‘Can someone check on baby Wilfred please? Canny worried about his neck, hips and spine after Boris slaps him into a holster and bounces him round on his stomach.’
Another wrote: ‘Why is the baby sling that low down by his waist? He looks dishevelled even when sporting a carrying device for the baby.’
And one claimed: ‘This is not a man that carries his baby regularly, or has bothered to read the instructions for his Ergo baby carrier. Having used same make since birth for my girls, that poor baby far too low, carrier far too loose & Boris is going to get v sore back walking using it like that.’
Mr Johnson’s papoose last night attracted the derision of Piers Morgan, who said: ‘Given the woefully weak way Boris Johnson has carried Britain during the coronavirus crisis, it comes as no surprise to me that he needs a papoose to carry his own baby.’
Mr Morgan has previously criticised other high-profile ‘papoose papas’, mocking Daniel Craig when he was spotted carrying his baby daughter in one.
But some Twitter users spoke favourably of the PM’s decision to use one, with one tweeting: ‘The babywearing community is thrilled to see you keeping your baby close in a carrier. You may find [a] simple adjustment makes all the difference to your comfort and it will also add to the safety of your precious baby.’
Boris and Carrie travelled to their remote holiday location, 600 miles away from their apartment in Downing Street, last weekend and have since returned home ahead of the end of Parliamentary recess.
Other images show Miss Symonds, 32, wearing a cosy winter jumper as she stood in front of a scenic view of Applecross Bay with her son and her rescue dog bounding around her feet.
One sweet family photograph showed Mr Johnson holding the dog Dilyn as Miss Symonds carried their baby son during a hike. The pair wore a colourful ensemble with Miss Symonds in floral shorts and Mr Johnson in a casual purple checked shirt as they enjoyed quality time together.
Another image showed Miss Symonds smiling as she held the Jack Russell cross she rescued last year by the lead.
The Prime Minister had been due to end his holiday and fly back to London this weekend, but the break was cut short after just three days when his whereabouts became publicly known.
The couple’s great escape to the country descended into farce when Applecross Landowner Kenny Cameron was left fuming because they pitched their trendy eight foot bell tent on his land and had a camp fire without asking him first.
Mr Johnson’s six-man security team – who were staying in the three-bedroom, £1,600-a-week cottage – evacuated him on Thursday, just hours before the news of his location broke, after arguing that they could no longer guarantee his safety.
The bell tent, which was a 56th birthday present from Ms Symonds to Mr Johnson, was spotted in the No 10 garden this summer – a dry run for the Scottish trip.
It can be seen in the background as Ms Symonds, 32, poses in her £34.99 Mountain Warehouse walking boots with Dilyn, their two-year-old dog.
After Mr Johnson was evacuated, members of his team were seen taking down the tent and removing equipment. The break was Mr Johnson’s first holiday since his trip to the Caribbean at Christmas, when he become engaged to Ms Symonds. Since then, he has nearly died from Covid-19 and, in April, less than three weeks after he came out of hospital, he welcomed Wilfred into the world.
The Scottish National Party’s leader at Westminster, Ian Blackford, has strenuously denied claims that Mr Johnson’s holiday destination was leaked by nationalists. He said: ‘This is completely preposterous and at no point have I referred publicly to the PM’s whereabouts. To be smeared in this way is unacceptable.’
Nationalists have accused Mr Johnson of being in ‘panic mode’ about signs of increased support for Scottish independence, with two recent surveys finding that 54 per cent of respondents want to see Scotland split from the UK. Mr Johnson chose a Scottish staycation to demonstrate his commitment to both the Union and the British holiday industry.
Landowner Mr Cameron was angered Mr Johnson and Miss Symonds appeared to have been climbing over his 3ft high wire fence to get to their cream-coloured canvas tent, instead of using the gate into the field.
Mr Cameron found a pair of wooden chairs from the cottage had been placed either side of the fence to form steps to clamber over it. The sheep farmer was also concerned that lighting a campfire had posed a potential risk due to the tinder dry conditions in recent weeks.
Speaking exclusively to MailOnline as Boris’s minders hastily packed away the offending canvas tent, a bewildered Mr Cameron said: ‘Mr Johnson is meant to be leading the country and yet he is not setting a great example.
‘Usually if people want to go inside a fenced area, they ask for permission first, but I was not asked at all. It is only polite to ask.
‘He could have put up his tent in the garden of the cottage and there would have been no problem – but he didn’t do that.
‘He could easily have damaged the fence by climbing over it as a short cut. There is a gate a little way up and they could have just used that.
‘Having a bonfire is always a risk when you have dry weather. I know we had rain last night but it has been very dry.
‘It was the first time I had seen a tent in the field. I last came up here a few days ago and it was not here then.’
The farmer stormed up to the idyllic spot overlooking the sea in the Scottish Highlands that he has leased for 20 years to confront the PM after a friend saw the exclusive pictures on the front page of today’s Daily Mail and tipped him off.
He shook his head as he surveyed the tent in his 20 acre field beside a pile of charred wood from the remains of the campfire.
As Mr Cameron stood there, clearly angry with what he was looking at members of Mr Johnson’s security team arrived at the cottage and promised him that they would take it down.
Looking bewildered at the sight in front of him, he said: ‘It’s just that I was not told about it.’
The Metropolitan Police officers apologised to Mr Cameron, saying that they and the Prime Minister had believed that the field was part of the cottage.
One officer said in front of a MailOnline reporter: ‘We are going to take the tent down and clear away any rubbish.’
Mr Cameron complained directly to the officers that he had not been asked for permission for the tent to go up.
The farmer then watched as the officers climbed over the fence and started taking down the tent.
Mr Johnson and Miss Symonds are believed to have spent romantic cosy evenings in the tent with Wilfred and Dilyn while warming themselves by the fire. The couple would have heard nothing but the sounds of waves lapping on the rocky beach below them.
Mr Cameron said that he had rented the field for 20 years and kept it as winter pasture for some of his 700 sheep which spend the summer on the hills.
He added: ‘As far as I can see, there is no damage, but there could easily have been.’
Mr Cameron admitted that he was not a fan of Mr Johnson’s politics and was a supporter of Scottish independence.
But he said: ‘It is nice that the Prime Minister came here with his family. This area is very remote. There is plenty of peace and quiet. The weather is wonderful at this time of year. Some people bring boats and others go hill walking.
‘There is also a lovely sandy beach about four miles away – but the water is cold.’
The Old School house is set in splendid isolation with beautiful views over the islands of Rona and Raasay.
It costs around £1,500 a week to rent in the summer and the nearest neighbours are half a mile away.
It is off a single track coast road and is around six miles from the village of Applecross which has a pub and a restaurant.
The cottage is accessed by a 200 yard gravel and grass track down a boggy hillside with piles of sheep dung which visitors have to step around.
The track which is lined with dry gorse bushes scorched by the Scottish sun crosses an area of common land.
Staff at Nanny’s café, the village shop and the Shieldaig Bar & Coastal Kitchen restaurant in Shieldaig insisted that they had not seen any sign of the prime minister during his five day break in the Highlands.
The Old School House is believed to have been built in the 1800s and was used as a school for many years until around the Second World War.
Children living on the Isle of Rona opposite the school are said to have rowed across the sea to attend lessons.
Visitors to the house have to access it by crossing the remote Applecross pass over nearby mountains or using the 20 mile long coast road from Shieldaig.
The narrow coast road is mostly single track with regular passing points for vehicles and has the added hazard of shaggy-haired Highland Cattle strolling off the hills and standing in the middle of it.
The area is famed for its craggy beauty with mountains and moors cloaked in Scottish heather which is in full purple bloom at this time of year. The road which passes the Old School House is part of Scotland’s North Coast 500 – a 516 mile route circular route around both the East and West coasts of the Highlands.
The simply furnished cottage has an outbuilding without a roof and is owned by an English woman who is believed to live in the Midlands.
It stands in a simple garden plot, measuring around 30 yards by 20 yards and surrounded by a dry stone wall.
The back gate of the cottage goes on to the common land which is bordered by Mr Cameron’s fence.
Staff at the Applecross Inn hotel and pub said that Mr Johnson and Miss Symonds had not popped in during their stay in the area.
But a holidaymaker said he had seen the couple walking with their dog on a trail near the village of Shieldaig around 20 miles from their cottage.
Judith Fisher, the owner of the Applecross Inn, said she could understand why the prime minister had chosen the area for his holiday.
She said: ‘Every morning, I look out across the bay and it is one of the best views in the world. You are looking over the Isle of Skye. It is absolutely magical.’
But she added: ‘I hope he brought his midge cream with him because the midges have been particularly unbearable in the last week.
‘They have been terrifyingly awful from about 7pm every night unless there has been a breeze to blow them away.’
The PM would seem likely to approve of how seriously his holiday destination took the coronavirus lockdown.
In May residents placed a large notice along the famous Bealach na Bà road, part of the North Coast 500 route.
It read: ‘Attention Visitors! Businesses are closed in Applecross. No food/drink available. Public toilets locked. No facilities. Community isolating – please respect.’
There was also a BBC 2 reality TV show filmed there called Monty Halls’ Great Escape which was was broadcast back in 2009.
It saw Marine biologist Monty Halls ‘escape from the city’ to be a crofter, to raise animals and grow vegetables on his own farm.
Mr Johnson’s three-bedroom cottage is fully booked up for most of this year and the start of the next, according to its website.
It describes itself as a ‘wonderful location to explore’ and boasts of how it is both ‘secluded and spacious’.
Ironically given the education crisis that engulfed his government while he was away, the cottage still retains signs of its former life as a schoolhouse.
The cosy-looking property makes much of it ‘part-panelled living room’ and has its own woodburner.
It has its own water supply from a spring and requires a £200 deposit to book, but has an honesty box if people want to use the telephone.
A listing for the rental exclaims: ‘Relax and unwind in this former school house. Secluded, yet within a wonderful location to explore. Excellent walking and climbing nearby.
‘This secluded and spacious cottage, with its own walled garden, enjoys a gloriously sunny position on the seashore with spectacular views towards the islands of Raasay, Rona and Skye.
On Wednesday, Mr Johnson was seen coming and going to talk with his six-strong security team, whose three vehicles have been parked outside throughout his stay.
At one stage, Mr Johnson pulled on a woollen hat in the bracing coastal winds.
The Prime Minister’s presence in the remote corner of Scotland has caused a flutter of excitement among those who have managed to catch a glimpse of him.
One holidaymaker told the Mail how he was taken aback when the Tory leader stumbled past him on a hiking trail on Wednesday.
He described how Mr Johnson, whose face was covered with a specialist hat designed to keep away the area’s notorious midge population, was joined on the walk by a small entourage.
As well as two close-protection guards who are routinely at the Prime Minister’s side, he was joined by Miss Symonds, a local guide and an unknown woman who was walking Dilyn.
The tourist said: ‘It just looked like any other normal family day out.’