Boris Johnson's girlfriend Carrie Symonds denied entry into US but he won't intervene because they aren't married yet
UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson was left red-faced after his girlfriend was barred from entering the United States.
Carrie Symonds, 31, had applied to go to the country as part of her job with US-based environmental group Oceana — a non-profit that works to protect the world's oceans — but saw her application rejected, according to the Daily Mail.
While it is unclear why exactly she was rejected, the suspicion is that it had to do with her five-day visit to war-ravaged Somaliland last year.
Symonds had visited the east African nation with her friend Nimco Ali, a campaigner against female genital mutilation, and met up with self-declared president Muse Bihi Abdi to discuss women's issues and sea pollution.
While that may seem like an inconspicuous enough visit, there were political implications there.
The sovereignty of Somaliland — which broke away from neighboring Somalia in 1991 — is a highly controversial issue, and the UK is one of the few countries which has diplomatic relations with the nation.
The US, on the other hand, does not, and sources believe this was a deciding factor in Symonds' rejected application.
This would especially be the case if the 31-year-old had applied through the US Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA), an automated system which allows tourists to enter the country for 90 days without a visa provided they do not pose a security threat.
One of the questions on the ESTA form asks the applicant if they have "traveled to, or been present in Iraq, Syria, Iran, Sudan, Libya, Somalia or Yemen on or after March 1, 2011?"
Answering yes to that question results in an automatic rejection.
The Mail reported that Symonds had skipped out on traveling with Johnson to this weekend's G7 summit of the world's major economic powers in the French seaside city of Biarritz so she could attend a series of meetings in America for Oceana.
The 31-year-old is said to be working to have the matter resolved quickly but finds herself hindered because she cannot yet officially ask Downing Street to intervene on her behalf.
This is because she is not married to Johnson, who is technically still with his wife Marina Wheeler, and does not have the luxury of calling upon No. 10 staff.
While Symonds and the US embassies in London and Downing Street refused to comment on the situation, a diplomatic source said they were "hopeful this can be sorted out in time for Ms. Symonds to go to the US as planned.'