PM's ex-wife Marina Wheeler speaks about 'traumatic' past two years

Boris Johnson’s ex-wife Marina Wheeler says last couple of years ‘have been very traumatic’ after cancer battle, the death of her mother and divorce with the prime minister

  • Marina Wheeler says she faced a ‘very traumatic and difficult couple of years’
  • Ms Wheeler and Boris Johnson divorced in February after separating in 2018 
  • She battled cervical cancer in 2019 and is in remission after three operations 
  • The lawyer dodged questions about Boris during interviews about her new book  

Boris Johnson’s ex-wife Marina Wheeler has said she faced a ‘traumatic,’ couple of years after battling cancer, only to lose her mother to the disease, while also divorcing the prime minister.

Ms Wheeler married Mr Johnson in 1993, but they separated in 2018, reaching a financial settlement on their divorce in February this year, only for her mother, Dip Singh, to die of bowel cancer that same month. 

Last year the lawyer, 56, battled cervical cancer, but is in remission after undergoing three operations, which she said left her ‘puffed up like a balloon’.

Speaking to Good Morning Britain today as she promoted her new book The Last Homestead, Ms Wheeler said: ‘There’s no getting away from the fact that it’s been a very traumatic and difficult couple of years. Divorce, cancer etc. 

‘Other people go through those things but all that happening in such a short space of time has been a great challenge.’

Amid growing turbulence at No 10, Ms Wheeler refused to be drawn into answering questions about her ex-husband.

Marina Wheeler refused to be drawn when asked about her ex-husband Boris Johnson, as she said she had faced a ‘traumatic,’ two years following their divorce, losing her mother to cancer, and battling the disease herself in 2019

Downing Street was thrown into disarray after Lee Cain, a Vote Leave veteran and Dominic Cummings loyalist, announced he was resigning despite being touted for promotion to No10 chief of staff.

Carrie Symonds, the PM’s fiancée is thought to have blocked the promotion as she believed it would be ‘a mistake’.

Ms Wheeler, who has four children with the Prime Minister, told Radio 4 this morning: ‘I’m not wild about discussing my husband, I mean as you know I have recently divorced him.’ 

Ms Wheeler, whose mother Dip Singh was Indian, was giving interviews about her new book The Lost Homestead.

The book tells the story about the end of British rule on the sub-continent in 1947, in particular the partition into India and Pakistan. 

Ms Wheeler and Boris Johnson, pictured together on the night of the EU referendum in 2016, divorced in February, having separated in 2018. The lawyer’s mother died from cancer the same month

Writing the book has been a painful process, she told The Times, explaining how she responded to her cervical cancer diagnosis by thinking: ‘I have no time for this. Quite apart from anything else, I have a book to write.’

She underwent three surgeries to remove the cancer, the first procedure, she told The Times last year, left her ‘puffed up like a balloon’. 

Now in remission, the 56-year-old told the paper she is facing a ‘pivotal moment,’ in her life.

She said: ‘This, for lots of reasons, is quite a pivotal moment in my life. My long marriage ended, my last two kids off at uni, my parents no longer around, the shifting around of places … I took time out from legal work and now am going back. I feel I’m free to pick how I spend my time in a way I haven’t been for decades.’

Ms Wheeler was able to speak to her mother, Dip Singh, about her experiences in India, before she died of bowel cancer in February.

When her mother was 14, they were forced to flee their side of the Punjab after it ended up on the side of Pakistan. 

Her family left their comfortable life and moved to Delhi, though Ms Wheeler says she has no recollection of ever meeting her grandfather. 

She told GMB: ‘I was brought up very British – I don’t know any Indian languages – and my mother made this conscious decision not to teach us any. 

‘It was this complete blank canvas, this whole side of my heritage, and I wanted to discover that. 

Speaking to Radio 4 about her mother, Ms Wheeler said: ‘On one level it is simply that she came from a generation who didn’t talk about their lives.

Marina Wheeler spoke to Good Morning Britain after her new book, The Last Homestead, which is about the end of British rule in India. The author previously said the book represented a ‘pivotal moment,’ in her life

‘But I think also it’s that partition was so traumatic that many didn’t speak about it.

‘Part of what I found so interested in researching the book and talking to her was how some of those darker memories she had simply suppressed.

‘So when she talked about her house in Sigoda, the paradise that she lost she could talk in great detail about things like remembering the clover that she would flick into the canal by the house.

Ms Wheeler said she was free to pick how she wanted to spend her time ‘in a way I haven’t been for decades,’ following her divorce, the loss of her parents and her children going off to university

‘She could remember walking through grapefruit orchards. But the actual leaving she has a very hazy memory of that.

‘She never went back. none of the family ever got back to Sagoda, where she was born.

‘She wanted a different future to the one her parents mapped out and she walked out of an arranged marriage.’

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