Boris Johnson did not deny claims his wife Carrie had been considered for senior roles in Government or with the royal family.
The Prime Minister was directly challenged about the issue following claims he had spoken with aides about environmental roles for his wife in autumn 2020, either for the Cop26 summit or with the Royal Family, sources told the Daily Mirror.
Mr Johnson dismissed the question about “non-existent jobs” when he was challenged in the Commons.
At Prime Minister’s Questions, Labour MP Chris Elmore sought to get an answer from Mr Johnson on the record in the Commons.
He asked: “Has he ever considered the appointment of his current spouse to a Government post or to any organisation in one of the royal households?
“Be honest Prime Minister: yes or no?”
Mr Johnson replied: “I know why the party opposite wants to talk about non-existent jobs in the media because they don’t want to talk about what’s going on in the real world.”
Following PMQs, the Prime Minister’s press secretary did not refute claims that the PM considered his now-wife for a Government post.
Asked if Mr Johnson’s failure to deny this was effectively confirmation it was true, the press secretary said: “I don’t think we’ve got anything further to add on this. We’ve obviously been asked about it several times. There are various different reports.”
She added: “On the report from yesterday, as we’ve said, the Prime Minister never recommended Mrs Johnson for a Government role or one as part of the Earthshot Prize.
“I obviously can’t speak to any details of private conversations that may or may not have happened. But I think the facts speak for themselves that Mrs Johnson did not apply for or was offered any role.”
Asked why she would not deny the PM considered Mrs Johnson for a Government position, she said: “I don’t think there’s anything further to add beyond what I’ve just said.”
The claims followed reports Mr Johnson tried to hire Carrie Symonds, as she then was, as his £100,000 chief of staff when he was foreign secretary in 2018.
The Prime Minister allegedly went on to suggest securing her a role as green ambassador in the run-up to Cop26 or as communications director for the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge’s Earthshot Prize.
Downing Street said Mr Johnson had never recommended Mrs Johnson for a Government role, but stopped short of denying that he considered or discussed the move.
The Prime Minister’s official spokesman said: “The Prime Minister has never recommended Mrs Johnson for a Government role, or one as part of the Earthshot Prize.
“Beyond that I wouldn’t get into any conversations the Prime Minister may or may not have had in private.”
Deputy Prime Minister Dominic Raab claimed Mr Johnson’s wife was being targeted by the Prime Minister’s critics.
Mr Raab told Sky News “these attacks on Carrie, I think, are deeply unsavoury” and there was a “feeding frenzy” around the claims.
He said: “What you are seeing is a political attack on Carrie as a means to get the Prime Minister and I think that’s out of order.”
The renewed questioning over whether Mr Johnson has wielded his influence to try to secure his now-wife a job at the Foreign Office came after controversy over the removal of a newspaper report.
The Times first reported on Saturday that Mr Johnson tried to hire Mrs Johnson in the Foreign Office, but the article was removed from later editions.
Downing Street admitted there were conversations between No 10 and the paper after its initial publication and before it was pulled.
Mrs Johnson’s spokeswoman insisted the allegations in the Times’s story were “totally untrue”.
But the veteran journalist behind the story, Simon Walters, stood by it “100%”, saying he did not receive an on-the-record denial during discussions with No 10 before publication.
Dominic Cummings, the Prime Minister’s former chief aide, supported the report and alleged Mr Johnson also wanted to appoint his wife to a Government job in late 2020.