It’s the row that dominated the weekend – and could have changed the direction of the race to be the next prime minister.
On Friday evening the Guardian broke the news that a loud row had been recorded at the house of Boris Johnson’s partner after “screaming, shouting and banging” between the couple was heard by a neighbour.
While domestic abuse charity SafeLives said people should always call the police if they are worried about their neighbours, a number of Tory MPs supporting Johnson in the leadership race accused the neighbour of intruding on the Tory MP’s privacy.
But Johnson’s supporters seemed less worried about the privacy issues around a picture of him and Symonds having a cosy chat in the countryside, allegedly taken this weekend, that was passed to the press on Monday.
The photo – which was published seemingly without credit – was splashed on the front page of the Evening Standard, which has backed Johnson in the race to replace Theresa May as PM.
“The images taken in the Sussex countryside showed the couple looking relaxed and happy,” the article read.
But the image came after days of controversy over the row recording, in which Johnson’s supporters and colleagues denounced what they alleged was an invasion of privacy.
“The very prospect of someone taping someone in their private home quite frankly tells me that that is politically motivated and that is not the type of behaviour you would expect in out country,” said Tory MP Priti Patel on Monday.
“That’s the kind of behaviour associated with the old eastern bloc.”
Meanwhile, Brexiteer Jacob Rees-Mogg slammed “Corbynista curtain twitchers” over the row.
“I think it’s absolutely dreadful,” he told LBC radio. “I think the idea that snooping neighbours are recording what is going on for political advantage and then Class War protesters are coming to politicians’ front doors – which happened to me as well – is not a good place for politics to be.”
Coming after a particularly toxic few days of the leadership contest, the supposedly candid countryside picture prompted some people to point out the hypocrisy of the image.
Some on Twitter were *seriously* worried about this invasion of Johnson’s privacy...
Others were more interested in the comedic value of the photo...
The photo emerged on the same day Sky News revealed it may have to cancel its head-to-head Tory leadership debate because Johnson had “so far declined” to take part.
“We stand ready to host a debate tomorrow evening if both candidates make themselves available,” it said. “Without both candidates, tomorrow’s debate will not take place,” the broadcaster said in a statement.
The former London mayor has agreed to take part in a one-on-one debate with foreign secretary Jeremy Hunt – who is also in the running to enter Number 10 – but this is set to place after Tory members have received their ballot papers, meaning many will have already voted.