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Boris Johnson

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Boris Johnson
Boris Johnson -opening bell at NASDAQ-14Sept2009-3c cropped.jpg
Mayor of London
Assumed office
4 May 2008
Deputy Richard Barnes
Victoria Borwick
Preceded by Ken Livingstone
Shadow Minister for Higher Education
In office
6 December 2005 – 16 July 2007
Leader David Cameron
Preceded by David Cameron
Succeeded by Adam Afriyie
Shadow Minister for the Arts
In office
14 April 2004 – 17 November 2004
Leader Michael Howard
Preceded by Gerald Howarth
Succeeded by Tony Baldry
Member of Parliament
for Henley
In office
9 June 2001 – 4 June 2008
Preceded by Michael Heseltine
Succeeded by John Howell
Personal details
Born Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson
(1964-06-19) 19 June 1964 (age 50)
New York City, New York, U.S.
Political party Conservative
Spouse(s) Allegra Mostyn-Owen (1987–1993)
Marina Wheeler (1993–present)
Children 5
Alma mater Balliol College, Oxford
Religion Anglicanism
Website Government website

Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson (born 19 June 1964) is a British politician, popular historian, and former journalist who has served as Mayor of London since 2008. He previously served as the Member of Parliament (MP) for Henley from 2001 until 2008. A member of the Conservative Party, Johnson describes himself as a One Nation Conservative and has been associated with both economically liberal and socially liberal policies.

Born in New York City to upper middle-class English parentage, Johnson was educated at the European School of Brussels, Ashdown House School, and Eton College. He read Classics at Balliol College, Oxford, where he was a member of the Bullingdon Club and was elected President of the Oxford Union in 1986. Beginning his career in journalism at The Times, he soon moved to The Daily Telegraph; as the newspaper's Brussels correspondent his articles were a strong influence on growing Eurosceptic sentiment among the British right-wing. He became assistant editor from 1994 to 1999 before taking editorship of The Spectator from 1999 to 2005. Joining the Conservatives, he was elected MP for Henley in 2001. During his period in the House of Commons, Johnson became one of the most conspicuous politicians in the country, authoring books and making regular television appearances. Under Conservative leaders Michael Howard and David Cameron, Johnson served on the opposition front bench, first as Shadow Minister for Culture, Communications and Creative Industries and then for Higher Education.

Selected as Conservative candidate for the 2008 London mayoral election, Johnson defeated Labour incumbent Ken Livingstone to become Mayor, resigning his seat in parliament. During his first term, he banned alcohol consumption on public transport and oversaw the 2012 London Olympic Games. In 2012, he was re-elected as Mayor, again defeating Livingstone.[1] After much speculation in the media, Johnson announced in late August 2014 that he would seek selection as the Conservative parliamentary candidate for Uxbridge and South Ruislip at the 2015 general election.[2] The following month, on 12 September, he became the prospective candidate for the safe Conservative seat.[3]

Johnson is a controversial figure in British politics and journalism. Supporters have praised him as an entertaining and popular figure with appeal beyond traditional Conservative voters, while critics have accused him of racism and homophobia, laziness, and dishonest reporting. He is the subject of several biographies and a number of fictionalised portrayals.

Early life

Early childhood: 1964–69

Johnson's eighth great grandfather King George II

Johnson was born in the afternoon of 19 June 1964,[4] in a hospital known as The Clinic on the Upper East Side of New York City.[5] His birth was registered with both the U.S. authorities and the city's British Consulate, with the child thus being awarded both American and British citizenship.[6] His English father, Stanley Johnson, had moved to the United States to study creative writing at the University of Iowa, funded by a Harkness Fellowship. Finding this course unappreciative of his talents, he had transferred to study economics at New York's Columbia University.[7] Boris's English mother, Charlotte Johnson Wahl (née Fawcett),[8] had been from a family of left-wing and liberal intellectuals and had married the politically conservative Stanley in 1963, before accompanying him to the U.S.[9] The journalist Toby Young has described Johnson's background as being "lower-upper-middle class".[10]

The couple were living in a loft apartment opposite the Chelsea Hotel,[11] although soon embarked on a tour of Canada, New Hampshire, and Vermont with their newborn.[12] In September 1964 they returned to Britain, enabling Charlotte to continue an English degree at the University of Oxford which she had interrupted by travelling to the U.S.[13] There, she settled into a flat in Summertown, Oxford with Boris, and completed her studies, giving birth to a second child, Rachel, in 1965.[12] As a child, Johnson was quiet and studious,[14] although suffered from severe deafness and aged eight underwent several operations to have grommets inserted in his ears.[15] In July 1965 the family moved to Crouch End in North London,[14] although they proceeded to spend that winter holidaying in Exmoor before Stanley moved the family to Washington D.C., where he had gained a job with the World Bank, in February 1966.[16] There, a third child, Leo, was born in September 1967, and Charlotte took up the painting for which she would become publicly known.[17] After Stanley was fired, he obtained a new job as project director of a policy panel on population control, in June moving the family to Harbor Island in Norwalk, Connecticut, from where he could commute into New York City.[18]

England and Belgium: 1969–77

In summer 1969 the family returned to the United Kingdom, settling into a cottage on Stanley's family farm at Nethercote, near to Winsford in Exmoor, that was adjacent to a house inhabited by Stanley's parents, Johnny and Irène Johnson.[19] Johnny had been born Osman Ali in Bournemouth to a half-English and half-Swiss mother, Winifred.[20] His father, Ali Kemal Bey, was a Turkish journalist who had been killed for his anti-Nationalist sympathies during the Turkish War of Independence.[21][22] After Winifred died shortly after childbirth, Osman was orphaned, and moved in with his English maternal grandmother, where he was renamed Wilfred "Johnny" Johnson and rejected his Turkish heritage.[23] His wife, Irène Johnson (née Williams), was half English and half French, having been the illegitimate granddaughter of Prince Paul of Württemberg, and through him a descendant of King George II of Great Britain.[24] Via this royal connection, Boris would be an eighth cousin of future British Prime Minister David Cameron.[25][26] In reference to his cosmopolitan ancestry, Johnson has described himself as a "one-man melting pot"—with a combination of Muslims, Jews, and Christians as great-grandparents.[27]

At Nethercote, Boris was raised largely by his mother and hired au pairs, as his father regularly departed for long periods of time.[28] He and his siblings were encouraged to engage in high-brow activities from a young age, for instance by reading letters in the The Times.[29] The family placed great emphasis on encouraging high achievement among their children, and Johnson's earliest recorded ambition was to be "world king".[30] Having few or no friends other than their siblings, the children became very close,[31] although Boris became very competitive toward Rachel, who learned to read before him.[32] It was there that Johnson also gained his first experiences with fox hunting.[33] In autumn 1969 the family relocated to Maida Vale in North London to enable Stanley to undertake post-doctoral work at the London School of Economics.[34] In 1970 Charlotte and the children briefly returned to Nethercote, where Boris was schooled at the Winsford Village School, before returning to London to settle in Primrose Hill.[35] Here, he was schooled the nearby Primrose Hill Primary School, alongside future Labour politicians Ed Miliband and David Miliband.[36] In late 1971 a further child, Jo, was born to the family, and in November 1972 they moved into a larger house nearby.[37]

After Stanley secured a job in the environmental sub-directorate of the European Commission, he moved his family to the Belgian city of Brussels in April 1973, where they settled in Uccle and where Boris became fluent in French.[38] There, Stanley's repeated infidelities resulted in Charlotte's nervous breakdown and hospitalisation with clinical depression, and Boris and his siblings were sent to a preparatory boarding school, Ashdown House in East Sussex, in September 1975.[39] At Ashdown, Johnson was appalled by the regularity and brutality with which students were beaten by the teachers, thus becoming a strong critic of corporal punishment.[40] It was there that he developed a love of rugby, and excelled at Ancient Greek and Latin.[41] Meanwhile, Stanley and Charlotte's relationship broke apart in December 1978, and they divorced in 1980.[42] Charlotte moved into a flat in Notting Hill, where her children spent much of their time with her.[43]

Eton and Oxford: 1977–87

"As a kid I was extremely spotty, extremely nerdy and horribly swotty. My idea of a really good time was to travel across London on the tube to visit the British Museum."

— Boris Johnson[44]

While at Ashdown, Johnson was awarded a King's Scholarship to study at Eton College, the elite independent boarding school in Eton, Berkshire.[45] Beginning his education there in the autumn term of 1977,[46] as a King's Scholar he was assigned to live at College boarding house, which had a more liberal bent than the conservative and right-wing dominated milieu of the wider school.[46] It was at Eton that Johnson began using the name Boris rather than Alex, and developed "the eccentric English persona" for which he later became known.[47] It was also here that he abandoned his mother's Catholicism and became an Anglican, joining the Church of England.[48]

Although school reports contain complaints regarding Johnson's idleness, complacency, and lateness,[49] he proved popular and established himself as a well-known figure within the school.[47] His friends were largely from the wealthy upper middle-classes, with his best friends being Darius Guppy and Charles Spencer, both of whom would accompany him to Oxford University and remain friends into adulthood.[50] While he did poorly at science and maths, he excelled in English and Classics, winning prizes in both including the prestigious Newcastle Prize.[51] He began writing for Eton College's newspaper, The Chronicle, and in 1981 was appointed its editor, beginning his journalistic career.[52] He also took part in the college's debating society, eventually becoming its secretary,[53] and in autumn 1981 was admitted to the Eton Society, better known as "Pop".[54] Upon finishing his time at Eton, Johnson went on a gap year to Australia, where he taught English and Latin at the elite independent boarding school, Geelong Grammar.[55]

Johnson studied Classics at Balliol College, Oxford.

Johnson won a scholarship to read Classics at Balliol College, Oxford,[56] arriving there in the autumn of 1983.[57] There, he was part of a generation of Oxford undergraduates who would come to dominate British politics and media in the early 21st century, among them senior Conservative Party members David Cameron, William Hague, Michael Gove, Jeremy Hunt, and Nick Boles.[58] At the university he associated primarily with Old Etonians and joined the Old Etonian-dominated Bullingdon Club, an upper-class drinking society known for its acts of local vandalism and for wrecking restaurants before paying for the damages.[59][60][61] He entered into a relationship with the aristocrat Allegra Mostyn-Owen, and they became engaged while at university.[62] According to Johnson biographer Sonia Purnell, he was "now ensconced in a closeted upper-class world of entitlement and wealth" quite dissimilar from his middle-class upbringing.[63]

Johnson became a well-known public figure at the university,[64] and with Guppy co-edited its satirical magazine Tributary.[65] In 1984 he was elected Secretary of the Oxford Union,[66] and subsequently campaigned for the position of Union President; his campaign focused largely on obtaining the support of those from independent schools. With 43% of the vote, he lost the election to Neil Sherlock.[67] In 1986 he launched a second attempt at the Presidency, in which his campaign was aided by fellow undergraduate Frank Luntz; it focused on reaching out from Johnson's established upper-class support base by downplaying his connections to the Conservatives and emphasising his persona.[68] He associated with groups affiliated with the centrist Social Democratic Party (SDP) and Liberal Party, hoping to court their vote, as part of which he called for electoral reform via the introduction of proportional representation. Luntz later alleged that Johnson actively portrayed himself as an SDP supporter in this period, although Johnson claims no recollection of having done so.[69][70] Johnson won the election and was appointed president.[71] His presidency was not seen as particularly distinguished or memorable,[72] and questions were raised regarding his competency and seriousness.[73] Having specialised in the study of Ancient Literature and Classical Philosophy, Johnson graduated from Balliol College with an upper second-class degree.[74][75] He was deeply unhappy that he did not receive a first, losing sleep over the issue.[76]

Early career

The Times and The Daily Telegraph: 1987–99

Johnson and Mostyn-Owen married on 5 September 1987, with their wedding reception held at her country seat of Woodhouse, Shropshire. A violin piece was specially commissioned from Hans Werner Henze, while Johnson lost his wedding ring an hour after the service.[77] The couple honeymooned in Egypt before settling into a flat in West Kensington, West London.[78] From there, Johnson secured work for a management consultancy company, L.E.K. Consulting; finding it incredibly boring, he resigned after a week.[79][80][81] Through family connections, in late 1987 he began work as a graduate trainee at The Times; initially stationed for a three-month posting at the Wolverhampton Express & Star, he was then given a series of low-grade jobs in The Times office and assigned to shadow established journalist David Sapsted.[82] Scandal erupted when he authored an article for the newspaper on the archaeological discovery of the palace of Edward II. Johnson had consulted his own godfather, the historian Colin Lucas, for information about the site, and then added a fictionalised quote which he attributed to Lucas. The quotation was historically incorrect, and Lucas complained to The Times' manager Charles Wilson, who sacked Johnson for falsifying the quote.[83][84][85]

Johnson immediately gained a job on the lead writing desk of The Times' main rival, The Daily Telegraph, having known its editor, Max Hastings, through his Presidency of the Oxford Union.[86] His articles were known for their unique literary style, replete with old-fashioned words, phrases, and humour, and for regularly referring to the readership as "my friends".[87] They were constructed to appeal strongly to the traditionalist and conservative attitudes of the newspaper's largely middle-class and middle-aged 'Middle England' readership.[88] Colleagues at the newspaper noted that he socialised little with them, but instead with bankers and members of the wealthy elite, and that he carefully avoided offending establishment figures with his articles.[89]

Johnson became a prominent critic of the European Committee which governed the European Union (flag pictured)

In Spring 1989, Johnson was appointed to the newspaper's Brussels bureau, where he was assigned to report on the events surrounding the European Commission.[90] There, he established himself as one of the few Eurosceptic journalists based in the city, becoming a particularly vehement critic of the Commission President Jacques Delors.[91] Many of his fellow journalists based in the city were critical of his reports, feeling that they were often dishonest and contained untruths designed to discredit the Commission,[92] with John Palmer of The Guardian stating that "as a journalist he is thoroughly irresponsible, making up stories."[93] His articles were highly influential, being favoured by Conservative Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher.[94] According to Purnell, "he helped to take [Euroscepticism] out of the hands of its traditional proponents from the Left, such as veteran Labour MPs Tony Benn and Peter Shore, and make it an attractive and emotionally resonant cause for the Right."[95]

His articles exacerbated tensions between the Eurosceptic and Europhile factions of the Conservative Party, then in office under the leadership of Prime Minister John Major. Both Major's administration and the Foreign Office were annoyed with Johnson and spent much time attempting to rebuke his claims, while Major unsuccessfully appealed to Hastings to control him.[96] According to Johnson, "everything I wrote from Brussels was having this amazing, explosive effect on the Tory party. And it really gave me this, I suppose, rather weird sense of power."[97] The clashes between the different Conservative factions were widely viewed as a contributing factor to the party's failure in the 1997 general election, and as a result Johnson earned the mistrust of many party members.[97] His writings have also been cited as a key influence on the emergence of the right-wing Eurosceptic United Kingdom Independence Party (UKIP) in the early 1990s.[95]

Johnson's devotion to his journalism exacerbated problems in his marriage, and in February 1990 Allegra left him and returned to London. Although they made various attempts to reconcile, they divorced in April 1993.[98] He had meanwhile entered into a romantic relationship with a childhood friend, the lawyer Marina Wheeler, who had moved to Brussels for work purposes in 1990.[99] In May 1993, they married at Horsham town hall in Sussex before embarking on a one-night honeymoon in East Grinstead.[100] Soon after, a daughter was born to the couple, and named Lara Lettice.[101] In 1994, Johnson returned to London, where Hastings turned down his request to become a war reporter.[102] Instead, he was promoted to the position of assistant editor and chief political columnist.[103] His column was recognised as ideologically eclectic and uniquely written, and earned him a Commentator of the Year Award at the What the Papers Say awards.[104]

Johnson's column would also be criticised for exhibiting bigotry and prejudice, and in later years would be cited as evidence for Johnson's alleged racism.[104] In some columns, he had used racist epithets such as "coolies", "piccannies", and "watermelon smiles" when referring to black people, also championing European colonialism in Africa.[105] Elsewhere, he used homophobic terminology when referring to gay men as "tank-topped bumboys", further stating that it was "appalling" that the Labour government of Prime Minister Tony Blair were repealing Section 28, a piece of Conservative legislation that had been widely deemed homophobic.[106] Johnson was given a regular column in The Spectator, The Daily Telegraph's sister paper; it attracted mixed reviews, and was often thought rushed.[104] In 1999, he was also given a column on new cars in the magazine GQ.[106] His behaviour regularly annoyed his editors; those at GQ were frustrated by the large number of parking fines that Johnson acquired while testing cars for them,[106] while he was consistently late in providing his columns for The Telegraph and The Spectator, forcing many staff to stay late to accommodate him; if they went ahead and published without his work included, he would get very angry, and shout at them with expletives.[107]

Johnson's influential Eurosceptic articles were enjoyed by Conservative Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher (left) but annoyed her successor, John Major (right)

Upon returning to Britain, Johnson and his wife settled in Calabria Road in Islington, North London,[108] before moving to the nearby Furlong Road in March 1999.[109] The Islington area was known for its left-liberal intelligentsia; under the influence of this milieu and the ideas of his new wife, Johnson came to better appreciate alternate points of view. His rightist, traditionalist Conservative attitudes toward issues such as climate change, LGBT rights, and race relations changed, reflecting this liberal influence.[110] It was here that the couple had three further children: Milo Arthur (born 1995), Cassia Peaches (b.1997), and Theodore Apollo (b.1999), all of whom were given the joint surname of Johnson-Wheeler.[111] The children were sent to local state-owned Canonbury Primary School, before being sent to independent secondary schools.[112] Devoting much time to his children, he authored a book of verse, Perils of the Pushy Parents - A Cautionary Tale, which was published to largely poor reviews.[113]

Scandal erupted in June 1995 when a recording of a telephone conversation between Johnson and Guppy in 1990 was made public. Guppy had requested the private address and telephone number of News of the World journalist Stuart Collier, wishing to have Collier beaten up to prevent him investigating Guppy's criminal activities. In the conversation, Johnson agreed to provide the information, and expressed concern that he would be associated with the attack. Johnson insisted that he had never actually given Guppy the information, and Collier was not attacked; although Hastings reprimanded Johnson's behaviour, he was not sacked.[114][115][116]

Johnson had begun to actively contemplate a political career, and in 1993 outlined his desire to stand as a Conservative candidate to be a Member of the European Parliament (MEP) in the 1994 European Parliament elections. Although Major considered vetoing Johnson's candidacy, Andrew Mitchell convinced him not do; nevertheless Johnson found it impossible to find a constituency and he did not stand in that election.[117] He subsequently turned his attention to obtaining a seat in the U.K. House of Commons, and after being rejected as Conservative candidate for Holborn and St. Pancras he was selected as the Conservative candidate for the Labour safe seat of Clwyd South in North Wales. Spending six-weeks campaigning, he read-up on farming and learned some Welsh, although attained only 9,091 votes (23%) in the 1997 general election, losing to the Labour candidate.[118] Moving to become a media personality, in April 1998 he appeared on an episode of Have I Got News For You, which brought him to a far wider audience; viewed as entertaining, he was invited back on to later episodes, including as a guest presenter.[119] After these appearances, he came to be recognised on the street by the public, and was invited to appear on other television shows, such as Top Gear, Parkinson, Breakfast with Frost, and Question Time.[120]

The Spectator and Henley-on-Thames: 1999–2008

In July 1999, Conrad Black, proprietor of both The Daily Telegraph and The Spectator, offered Johnson the editorship of the latter on the condition that he abandoned his parliamentary aspirations; Johnson agreed.[121] Under Johnson's editorship, the circulation of The Spectator grew by 10% to 62,000 and it began to turn a profit.[122] He brought in contributions from many figures whom he had known through life, including from his extended family, Eton, Oxford, and his time at The Telegraph.[123] Although retaining The Spectator's traditional right-wing bent, he also welcomed contributions from leftist writers and cartoonists like Steve Bell and Andy McSmith.[124] Critics, including many involved in The Telegraph, thought that under Johnson's leadership The Spectator had avoided covering serious issues and focused on insubstantial and trivial topics.[125] Johnson was strongly criticised – including by his father-in-law Charles Wheeler – for permitting Taki Theodoracopulos's use of racist and anti-semitic language in his Spectator column,[126] while Johnson also earned a reputation as a poor political pundit for the incorrect political predictions that he made in the magazine.[125] Within the magazine itself, many were annoyed that Johnson was regularly absent from the office, often missing meetings and events, and that he left much of his work to the last moment.[127]

"The selection of Boris Johnson... confirms the Tory Party's increasing weakness for celebrity personalities over the dreary exigencies of politics. Johnson, for all his gifts, is unlikely to grace any future Tory cabinet. Indeed, he is not known for his excessive interest in serious policy matters, and it is hard to see him grubbing away at administrative detail as an obscure, hardworking junior minister for social security. To maintain his funny man reputation he will no doubt find himself refining his Bertie Wooster interpretation to the point where the impersonation becomes the man."

Max Hastings, Evening Standard[128]

Johnson continued to seek a parliamentary seat, and following the retirement of Michael Heseltine was invited to stand as a potential Conservative candidate for Henley-on-Thames, a Conservative safe seat in Oxfordshire.[129] The local Conservative branch were split over Johnson's candidacy; some found him amusing and charming, while others were critical of his flippant attitude to serious matters and his lack of knowledge about the local area.[130] Aided by a smear campaign that erroneously claimed that his main rival, David Platt, was homosexual, Johnson narrowly won the local candidacy in June 2000.[131] Boosted by his television fame, Johnson stood as the Conservative candidate for Henley-on-Thames in the 2001 general election, winning with a majority of 8,500 votes.[132] In becoming a Member of Parliament, Johnson had broken his promise to Black that he would not do so while editing The Spectator; although labeling Johnson as "ineffably duplicitous", Black did not sack him, viewing him as "a capable editor" who "helped promote the magazine and raise its circulation" through his regular radio and television appearances.[133]

Although retaining his main home in Islington, Johnson purchased a £650,000 farmhouse outside Thame in his new constituency.[134] Johnson regularly attended Henley social events, thus attracting local press coverage, and also wrote an occasional column for the Henley Standard.[135] His constituency surgeries proved popular, and he involved himself in local campaigns to save Townlands Hospital and the local air ambulance from closure, as well as to keep Brakspear as an independent brewer.[136] In Parliament, Johnson was appointed to serve on a standing committee assessing the Proceeds of Crime Bill, although missed many of its meetings.[137] Despite his credentials as a public speaker, his speeches in the House of Commons were widely deemed lacklustre and lacking in passion, with Johnson later admitting that they were "crap".[138] In his first four years as MP for Henley he attended just over half of the votes in the House of Commons, although by his second term this had declined to 45%.[139] In most cases he supported the Conservative party line, only rebelling against it five times during this period, when he adopted a more socially liberal attitude that the mainstream party; he for instance voted to repeal Section 28 and supported the Gender Recognition Act 2004.[140]

Alongside his full-time job as an MP, he continued as editor of The Spectator, as well as with his columns for The Telegraph and GQ, and making television appearances.[141] He also published a book, Friends, Voters, Countrymen: Jottings on the Stump, which recounted his experiences with the 2001 election campaign.[139] This was followed by his first novel, Seventy-Two Virgins: A Comedy of Errors, which revolved around the life of a Conservative MP and contained various biographical elements.[142] Responding to his critics who believed that he was juggling too many positions, he cited prominent Conservative politicians Winston Churchill and Benjamin Disraeli as exemplars who combined their political and writing careers.[143] To manage the stress he took up jogging and cycling.[144]

Johnson represented Henley (pictured) in Parliament

Following William Hague's resignation as Conservative leader, Johnson supported the candidacy of the only pro-EU figure, Kenneth Clarke, arguing that he was the only candidate capable of winning an election. Johnson devoted The Spectator to supporting Clarke, although Iain Duncan Smith proved successful.[145] Johnson had a strained relationship with Duncan Smith, with The Spectator becoming very critical of the latter's party leadership.[146] Duncan Smith was removed from his position in November 2003, being replaced by Michael Howard; Howard deemed Johnson to be the most popular Conservative politician with the electorate and appointed him vice-chairman of the party, responsible for overseeing their electoral campaign.[147] In May 2004 Howard organised a shadow cabinet reshuffle in which he appointed Johnson to the position of shadow arts minister.[148] In October 2004 Howard ordered Johnson to go to Liverpool and issue a public apology for an article by Simon Heffer that had been published in The Spectator; in the article, Heffer had claimed that the victims of the Hillsborough disaster had caused their own demise and that Liverpool had wallowed in self-pity ever since.[149][150]

In November 2004 the British tabloids revealed that since 2000, Johnson had been having an affair with Spectator columnist Petronella Wyatt, resulting in two terminated pregnancies; Johnson initially denied everything.[151] After the allegations were proven, Howard asked Johnson to resign from his position as vice chairman and shadow arts minister, not because of the affair but because he had publicly lied about it. Johnson refused, defending his right to lie, at which Howard sacked him from those positions.[152][153] In July 2005, The Spectator's theatre critics Toby Young and Lloyd Evans produced a play, Who's the Daddy? at the King's Head Theatre in Islington, which satirised the scandal; although he did not prevent them from doing so, Johnson was upset by the play.[154]

In the 2005 general election, Johnson was re-elected MP for Henley, increasing his majority to 12,793.[155] Following Labour's victory in the election, Howard stood down as Conservative leader, with Johnson backing David Cameron as his successor.[156] After being successfully selected, Cameron appointed Johnson as the shadow higher education minister, acknowledging his popularity among students.[157] Johnson's main interest was in streamlining university funding,[158] as part of which he supported Labour's proposed top-up fees.[159] In 2006 Johnson campaigned to become Rector of Edinburgh University, but opponents criticised him with such taglines as "Anyone but Boris" and "Bog off Boris, you Top-up Tory", and he ultimately came third.[160][161]

The Spectator's new chief executive, Andrew Neil, removed Johnson from his position as editor of the magazine.[162] With his reduction of earnings, Johnson convinced John Bryant, editor of The Telegraph, to raise his annual fee from £200,000 to £250,000, averaging at £5000 per column, each of which took up around an hour and a half of his time.[163][164] He also presented a popular history television show, The Dream of Rome, for Tiger Aspect; the show was broadcast on January 2006 and a book followed in February.[165] He then produced a sequel, After Rome: Holy Wars and Conquest, in which he focused on early Islamic history, created by his own production studio, Finland Station.[166] As a result of his various activities in 2007 he earned £540,000, making hi the third highest MP in the country that year.[167] In April 2006, the News of the World stated that Johnson was having an affair with the Times Higher Education Supplement journalist Anna Fazackerley, although both Fackerley and Johnson refused to comment. Fazackerley subsequently stepped down from her job, and was appointed to a new job working for Johnson.[168][169] In September 2006, his image was used in 'Boris needs you' and 'I Love Boris' material to promote the Conservative Party's image during Freshers' Week in universities.[170]

Mayor of London

2008 London Mayoral election

In March 2007, Johnson began mooting the idea of becoming Mayor of London.[171] However, his candidacy was not taken seriously within the Conservative Party, who instead considered Nick Boles the party's main contender for the job.[172]

After several days of speculation, Johnson announced he was a potential Conservative candidate for the London mayoral election in 2008 on 16 July 2007.[173]

He resigned as Shadow Minister for Higher Education. He was confirmed as the Conservative candidate on 27 September 2007 after gaining 75% of the vote in a public London-wide primary.[174]

The Conservative Party hired Australian election strategist Lynton Crosby to run Johnson's campaign. Aware of Johnson's propensity for committing gaffes, Crosby prevented him from holding interviews with the print and broadcast media in favour of radio talk shows and daytime television which asked "easier" questions.[175][176] Crosby also made Johnson tell fewer jokes and have a simpler haircut to help make him appear more serious.[175] The campaign targeted Conservative-leaning suburbs in outer London to capitalise on a sense of being overlooked by the Livingstone administration which had paid most attention to inner London areas.[176]

His campaign was launched in Edmonton in March 2008 when David Cameron, introducing Johnson, commented "I don't always agree with him, but I respect the fact that he's absolutely his own man."[177]

Johnson pledged to introduce new Routemaster-derived buses to replace the city's fleet of articulated buses if elected Mayor.

Johnson's candidature received opposition from across the political spectrum. Right-wing journalists Simon Heffer and Peregrine Worsthorne described Johnson as not being serious enough to hold the role of Mayor of London,[178] Worsthorne noting that the "harder he tried [to be serious], the more insincere, incoherent, evasive and even puerile he looked and sounded".[179] Ken Livingstone described Johnson as "a joke".[180] Left-of-centre commentators claimed that Johnson was not suited to be Mayor of such an ethnically diverse city because he had previously made comments which they interpreted as racist,[181] a situation exacerbated when the British National Party urged its supporters to give their second preference votes to Johnson.[182]

Johnson's candidacy was the subject of international interest. Germany's Der Spiegel and America's National Public Radio reported the race, both quoting Johnson as saying "if you vote for the Conservatives, your wife will get bigger breasts, and your chances of driving a BMW M3 will increase",[183][184] without however giving a source for this; the BBC has quoted the same statement by him from his 2004 campaign trail.[185]

Though most pollsters—with the exception of YouGov which accurately forecast the final result—predicted either a close result or narrow win for Livingstone,[186] it was announced on 2 May 2008 Johnson had garnered a total of 1,168,738 first and second preference votes to Livingstone's 1,028,966.[187] Johnson benefited from a large voter turnout in Conservative strongholds, in particular Bexley and Bromley where he amassed a majority of over 80,000 over Livingstone.[188] Following his victory, he praised Livingstone as a "very considerable public servant" and added that he hoped to "discover a way in which the mayoralty can continue to benefit from your transparent love of London".[187] He also announced that, as a result of his victory, he would resign as Member of Parliament for Henley.[189]

Johnson giving a victory speech in City Hall after being elected Mayor of London.

Staff appointments

Johnson assumed control at City Hall on 4 May 2008. He appointed Richard Barnes as his Deputy Mayor on 6 May 2008, as well as appointing the following to newly devolved offices; Ian Clement as Deputy Mayor for Government Relations, Kit Malthouse as Deputy Mayor for Policing and Ray Lewis as Deputy Mayor for Young People.[190]

The Mayor also appointed Munira Mirza as his cultural adviser and Nick Boles, the founder of Policy Exchange, as Chief of Staff.[191] Sir Simon Milton became Deputy Mayor for Policy and Planning, as well as Chief of Staff.[190] He appointed Anthony Browne as Policy Director. Kulveer Ranger was appointed to Advisor for Transport and Isabel Dedring to Advisor for the Environment.

Political opponents questioned Johnson's judgement when Ray Lewis resigned on 4 July 2008, shortly after taking up his post, following allegations of financial misconduct during his prior career as a Church of England priest and inappropriate behaviour in respect of a false claim to have been appointed as a magistrate.[192] Hazel Blears, the UK Communities Secretary, said that "People across the country will note that after just two months, the new Tory administration in London is in complete disarray. Londoners need to know what Boris knew and why the situation has changed."[193] Kit Malthouse, London's Deputy Mayor for Policing, defended Lewis and said that he had "dedicated himself to saving young lives in London", regarding his policies on tackling knife crime, and called the Labour Party "ungracious" and accused them of "dancing on his political grave".[194] Johnson himself said that he was "misled" by Lewis.[195] On 22 June 2009, Ian Clement resigned after breaking rules by paying for personal items using a corporate credit card.

Public transport ticketing

At the beginning of his tenure as Mayor, Johnson announced plans to introduce Oystercard across the entire rail network in London.[196]

One of the pledges in Johnson's election manifesto was to retain Tube ticket offices, in opposition to Livingstone's proposal to close up to 40 London Underground ticket offices.[197] On 2 July 2008 the Mayor's office announced that the closure plan was to be abandoned and that offices would remain open.[198] On 21 November 2013, Transport for London announced that all London Underground ticket offices would close by 2015.[199]

Ban on use of alcohol on public transport

On 7 May 2008, Johnson announced plans to ban the consumption of alcohol on the London transport network, effective from 1 June,[200] a policy described by Jeroen Weimar, Transport for London's director of transport policing and enforcement, as reasonable, saying people should be more considerate on the trains.[201] The ban initially applied on the London Underground, Buses, DLR and Croydon Trams. The London Overground was added later in June 2008. Press releases said that the ban would apply to "stations across the capital", but did not specify whether this included National Rail stations – especially those stations not served by the TfL lines on which alcohol is banned.

On the final evening on which alcohol was to be permitted on London transport, thousands of drinkers descended on the Underground system to mark the event. Six London Underground stations were closed as trouble began, and some staff and police were assaulted. Police made 17 arrests as several trains were damaged and withdrawn from service.[201]

Forensic Audit Panel

The formation of the Forensic Audit Panel was announced on 8 May 2008. The Panel is tasked with monitoring and investigating financial management at the London Development Agency and the Greater London Authority.[202] It is headed by Patience Wheatcroft, former editor of The Sunday Telegraph. Previously the GLA investigated allegations of financial mismanagement itself.

Johnson's announcement was criticised by Labour for the perceived politicisation of this nominally independent panel, who asked if the appointment of these key Johnson allies to the panel – "to dig dirt on Ken Livingstone" – was "an appropriate use of public funds".[203] Wheatcroft is married to a Conservative councillor[204] and three of the four remaining panel members also have close links to the Conservatives: Stephen Greenhalgh (Conservative Leader of Hammersmith and Fulham Council), Patrick Frederick (Chairman of Conservative Business Relations for South East England and Southern London) and Edward Lister (Conservative Leader of Wandsworth Council).

The panel reported in July 2008.[205] Its findings included that it had "identified failings in the LDA's leadership, governance and basic controls which have led to our overall conclusion that the former LDA board was ineffective" and also raised a number of concerns about the value for money achieved on projects that the LDA had funded. However, on the central allegations that the previous administration had misused their powers, the Panel found "their attempts to influence LDA project decisions did not breach any rules or protocols".

2008 Olympics

Johnson was present at the closing ceremony of the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing as London's representative to receive the Olympic flag from Guo Jinlong, the Mayor of Beijing to announce formally London as Olympic host city. At the subsequent handover party held at London House in Beijing, he gave a speech in which he declared 'ping pong is coming home'.[206]

2012 Olympics

Johnson at the 2012 Olympics

London was successful in its bid to host the 2012 Summer Olympics while Ken Livingstone was still Mayor in 2005. Johnson's role in the proceedings was to be the co-chair of an Olympic board which oversaw the Games.[207] Two of the actions subsequent to taking on this role were to improve the transport around London by making more tickets available and laying on more buses around the capital during the busy period as thousands of spectators were temporary visitors in London,[208][209] and also to allow shops and supermarkets to have longer hours on Sundays.[210]

US presidential election

In August 2008, Johnson broke from the traditional procedure of those in public office not publicly commenting on other nations' elections when he openly endorsed then-Senator Barack Obama for the presidency of the United States.[211][212] He later wrote a comment piece in The Daily Telegraph explaining his decision.[213] As a dual citizen (Britain/USA) Mayor Johnson was technically eligible to vote in this presidential election, but it is not known if he has ever availed himself of his American voting privilege or met other aspects of American citizenship such as the requirement to register with the American Selective Service System at age 18, where some waivers are available, or make annual tax filings, where only technical waivers from filing and paying US taxes are available.

Resignation of Ian Blair

In October 2008, Johnson forced the resignation of the Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police Ian Blair, hours after taking control of London's police authority. Those in support of this measure claimed that Blair's handling of certain events, such as the death of Jean Charles de Menezes, bonus payments and bias in favour of a piece of Government legislation left his position untenable, but critics have argued that the forced resignation makes the role of the commissioner more political.[214][215]

Expenses controversy

Johnson in 2013

Several expense claims for very short taxi journeys were submitted by the Mayor, many of which included charges for taxis to wait several hours for the Mayor to use them with the meter running (for example, a return journey from City Hall to Elephant and Castle – a journey of 3 miles/5 km – which cost £99.50).[216]

There are questions about whether some of this expenditure was allowed under GLA rules, which state taxis should be used only when there is no feasible public transport alternative and which ban paying taxis to wait more than 20 minutes.[217]

Mugging intervention

On 2 November 2009, Johnson intervened in the attempted mugging of a London resident as she was walking home. The victim, documentary film maker and Ken Livingstone supporter Franny Armstrong, was pushed against a car by a "group of young girls", one wielding an iron bar. Johnson was cycling past when he responded to Armstrong's call for help. Johnson "picked up the iron bar, called after the girls and cycled after them." He also reportedly called the girls "oiks". Johnson then returned to Armstrong and walked her home. Armstrong described Johnson as her "knight on a shining bicycle". The Mayor's office, however, declined to comment on the incident.[218][219]

Youth reoffending statistics disputed

In 2011, Johnson gave evidence to the Home Affairs Select Committee, comparing a 19% re-offending rate among those released from the Feltham Young Offenders' Institution to the then national average of around 78%. The chair of the UK Statistics Authority Sir Michael Scholar, who served as private secretary to former Conservative Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher in the early 1980s, wrote to the committee's chair Keith Vaz MP to tell him the figures Johnson had quoted to a panel of MPs "do not appear to stand up to scrutiny". When Joanne McCartney, a Labour member of the London Assembly, questioned Johnson's use of the statistic, Johnson replied: "There's this guy Scholar writing me letters who sounds ... like some sort of Labour stooge."[220] Johnson later admitted that his officials told him of "caveats" around the data, but pointed out that the revised re-offending rate for the institution of 39% was still substantially lower than the national average.[221]

Ejection from London Assembly Meeting

In February 2013, during a London Assembly meeting following the publication of the 2014 budget for London, Johnson was ejected from the meeting following a vote and on the grounds that his Deputy Victoria Borwick had left the chamber. Upon realising that the vote meant that he would not be questioned on the budget, Johnson referred to his political opponents as 'great supine protoplasmic invertebrate jellies.'[222]


Johnson is a keen cyclist and made great political capital out of supporting cycling in London since coming to office in 2008. After heavy criticism, much from bloggers, that his policies were not going far enough and that London was still an extremely dangerous place to cycle, Johnson in March 2013 announced a change in his plans and declared an intention to "de-lycrafy" cycling through nearly £1 billion of investment in a variety of cycle infrastructure over the next few years including a "Crossrail for bikes" of 15 miles/24 km of segregated cycle track running east-west through London.[223][224]

On 4 August 2013, Johnson took part in the inaugural Ride London event, a 100-mile/160 km cycle ride from the Olympic Park in Stratford, passing through the Surrey Hills and finishing on the Mall in central London.

Guardian journalist Peter Walker has questioned Johnson's "true commitment" to cycling, after journalist Andrew Gilligan was appointed as London's Cycling Commissioner with few apparent qualifications in January 2013, but later that year praised Johnson for "daring to think big about cycling".[225]

The cycle hire scheme, unveiled by Johnson's predecessor Livingstone in 2008, is commonly known as 'Boris Bike' scheme as Johnson was Mayor at the time of their introduction and has subsequently expanded the scheme while in office. In September 2013 on LBC Radio, Johnson vowed to change his name by deed poll to "Barclays Johnson" if sponsoring bank Barclays were to give a further £100 million towards the scheme.[226][227]

24-hour Tube

On 21 November 2013, Johnson announced major changes to the operation of London Underground, including the extension of Tube operating hours to run through the night at weekends. The announcement also revealed that all staffed Underground ticket offices would be closed with the aim of saving over £40 million a year, with automated ticketing systems provided instead.[228][229]

Return to Parliament

2015 general election

In September 2014, Johnson was selected as the Conservative prospective parliamentary candidate for the safe Conservative seat of Uxbridge and South Ruislip.[230] The United Kingdom general election, 2015 will take place on 7 May.

During his mayoralty, Johnson has been the subject of numerous rumours as to the future of his political career, and the possibility that he would stand to be the head of the Conservative Party. In 2012 Grant Shapps claimed that Johnson lacks many of the skills that are needed as the leader of a political party and prime minister.[231]

In August 2014, Johnson announced he would stand for election in the 2015 general election.[232][233]

Political views

"[I am] free-market, tolerant, broadly libertarian (though perhaps not ultra-libertarian), inclined to see the merit of traditions, anti-regulation, pro-immigrant, pro-standing on your own two feet, pro-alcohol, pro-hunting, pro-motorist and ready to defend to the death the right of Glenn Hoddle to believe in reincarnation."

Boris Johnson[137]

Ideologically, Johnson has described himself as a "One-Nation Tory".[234][235] Academic Tony Travers of the London School of Economics described Johnson as "a fairly classic - that is, small state - mildly eurosceptic Conservative" who like his contemporaries Cameron and Osbourne also embraced "modern social liberalism".[236] The Economist has stated that Johnson "transcends his Tory identity by melding social and economic liberalism", thus appealing to libertarian voters,[237] while The Guardian noted that "Johnson's gut economic liberalism is being complemented by his own version of its social counterpart" while Mayor of London.[238]

However, Stuart Wilks-Heeg, executive director of Democratic Audit, noted that "Boris is politically nimble",[236] while biographer Sonia Purnell stated that Johnson regularly changed his opinion on political issues, commenting on what she perceived to be "an ideological emptiness beneath the staunch Tory exterior."[239] She later referred to his "opportunistic - some might say pragmatic - approach to politics".[240] Former Mayor Ken Livingstone claimed that while he had once feared Johnson as "the most hardline right-wing ideologue since Thatcher", over the course of Johnson's mayoralty he had instead concluded that he was "a fairly lazy tosser who just wants to be there" while doing very little work.[241]

Although Johnson became widely known for his strongly Eurosceptic articles in The Daily Telegraph, many of his close associates have believed this to be an opportunistic ruse, expressing the view that he is not a genuine Eurosceptic, with some suggesting that he might be sympathetic to the cause of European federalism.[242] He has publicly welcomed Turkey's entry into the EU.[243] Highlighting these claims, Purnell stated that he is "neither truly anti-European not a Little Englander".[244] Purnell has noted that Johnson "is nothing if not an elitist",[245] and in an article titled "Long Live Elitism" he stated that "without elites and elitism man would still be in his caves."[246] Purnell believed that it was the influence of Johnson's maternal family, the left-wing Fawcetts, that led to him developing "a genuine abhorrence of racial discrimination".[247]

Personal life and public image

Johnson on a demonstration against hospital closures with Liberal Democrat MP John Hemming (left) and Conservative MP Graham Stuart (centre) on 28 March 2006.

Johnson is one of the most recognisable figures in British politics.[248] Widely known simply as "Boris" in the UK,[249] Johnson has since attracted a variety of irreverent names, including "BoJo" (a portmanteau of his forename and surname).[250] His hair is specifically ruffled in a certain way for the public.[249] Purnell has described this public persona as "brand Boris", and noted that he developed it while at Oxford University.[251] Max Hastings referred to this public image as a "façade resembling that of PG Wodehouse's Gussie Fink-Nottle, allied to wit, charm, brilliance and startling flashes of instability."[252] Biographer Sonia Purnell described him as "a manic self-promoter" who filled his life with "fun and jokes".[253] He has stated that "humour is a utensil that you can use to sugar the pill and to get important points across."[253] She noted that colleagues of his regularly expressed the view that he used people to advance his own interests,[254] with Gimson noting that he was "one of the great flatterers of our times".[255] Purnell noted that could deflect serious questions using "a little humour and a good deal of bravado".[256]

Although publicly best known as "Boris", among friends and family Johnson is known as "Al".[257] Purnell noted that despite his public persona, in his personal life Johnson was a "highly evasive figure".[249] Remaining detached from others, he had very few if any intimate friends.[258] Highly ambitious and very competitive, biographer Andrew Gimson noted that he was born "to wage a ceaseless struggle for supremacy".[259] He would be particularly angered with those he thought insulted aspects of his personal life; for instance, when an article in The Telegraph upset him he emailed commissioning editor Sam Leith with the simple message "Fuck off and die."[260] Thus Purnell notes that Johnson hides his ruthlessness "using bumbling, self-deprecation or humour",[261] adding that he was a fan of "laddish banter and crude sexual references".[262] He would typically awake at around 5am.[109]

Johnson has dual citizenship, Great Britain and U.S. citizenship which he acquired due to his birth in New York. In 2014 Johnson acknowledged he was disputing a demand for capital gains tax from the U.S. tax authorities,[263][264] which ultimately he paid.[265]

Johnson has been a frequent target for satirists. The magazine Private Eye pictured him on the front cover of issues 1120 (26 November 2004), 1156 (14 April 2006), and 1214 (11 July 2008). He has featured frequently in its cartoon strip (currently called Dave Snooty and his Pals) as "Boris the Menace" (cf. Dennis the Menace).[266]

"Boris is an original - the opposite of a stereotype, the exception to the rule. Overweight and goosey-fleshed, he's the antithesis of an airbrushed pin-up. He resembles a 'human laundry-basket' and has a habit of forgetting to shower."

Biographer Sonia Purnell[239]

He has shown himself to be outspoken on issues which are treated by some as belonging to the realms of political correctness. In Friends, Voters, Countrymen (2001), Johnson wrote that "if gay marriage were OK – and I was uncertain on the issue – then I saw no reason in principle why a union should not be consecrated between three men, as well as two men, or indeed three men and a dog."[267] In recent years Johnson has played down his previous support for the anti-gay law known as Section 28.[268] and has expressed more moderate views on the issue. In 2006 and 2008 he took part in the London Gay Pride celebrations.[269] Three weeks before the London mayoral election, 2012, he prevented London buses from carrying advertising for a Christian campaign which advocated treatment for homosexuality. The campaign was to advertise the phrase, "Not gay! Ex-gay, post-gay and proud. Get over it!" Johnson told The Guardian that he regarded London as "one of the most tolerant cities in the world and intolerant of intolerance". He said, "It is clearly offensive to suggest that being gay is an illness that someone recovers from and I am not prepared to have that suggestion driven around London on our buses".[270]

Shortly after the 7 July bombings in 2005, Johnson made the following comments:

To any non-Muslim reader of the Koran, Islamophobia – fear of Islam – seems a natural reaction, and, indeed, exactly what that text is intended to provoke. Judged purely on its scripture – to say nothing of what is preached in the mosques – it is the most viciously sectarian of all religions in its heartlessness towards unbelievers. ...
The trouble with this disgusting arrogance and condescension [of Theo Van Gogh's killer] is that it is widely supported in Koranic texts, and we look in vain for the enlightened Islamic teachers and preachers who will begin the process of reform. What is going on in these mosques and madrasas? When is someone going to get 18th century on Islam's mediaeval arse?
... We – non-Muslims – cannot solve the problem; we cannot brainwash them (the suicide bombers) out of their fundamentalist beliefs. The Islamicists last week horribly and irrefutably asserted the supreme importance of that faith, overriding all worldly considerations. It will take a huge effort of courage and skill to win round the many thousands of British Muslims who are in a similar state of alienation, and to make them see that their faith must be compatible with British values and with loyalty to Britain. That means disposing of the first taboo, and accepting that the problem is Islam. Islam is the problem.[271]

Three years after the bombing, Johnson told The Guardian the following:

I urge people, particularly during Ramadan, to find out more about Islam, increase your understanding and learning, even fast for a day with your Muslim neighbour and break your fast at the local mosque. I would be very surprised if you didn't find that you share more in common than you thought.[272]

He has made appearances on television explaining his article on the 7/7 attacks, saying he now believes, after having researched the Qu'ran more in depth, that it is a "religion of peace".[273]

Johnson is known for his love of cycling and regularly cycles to work. He has been the victim of several bike thefts and has expressed his desire to plant "decoy bicycles throughout Islington and send Navy SEALs in through the windows of thieves".[274] He unveiled a bicycle sharing system modelled on Velib in London in July 2010, though the concept was due to his predecessor.[275]

Johnson has stated that he is in favour of legalising medical marijuana.[276] He has also stated that in the past he has "often smoked cannabis".[277]

Johnson is the eldest of the four children of Stanley Johnson, a former Conservative Member of the European Parliament and employee of the European Commission and World Bank, and the painter Charlotte Johnson Wahl (née Fawcett),[8] the daughter of Sir James Fawcett, a barrister[278] and president of the European Commission of Human Rights.[279] His younger siblings are Rachel Johnson, a writer and journalist; Leo Johnson, a partner in PricewaterhouseCoopers specialising in Sustainability;[280] and Jo Johnson, Assistant Government Whip and Conservative MP for Orpington. His stepfather was the American academic Nicholas Wahl.

Johnson is a fluent speaker of French and Italian, with a good grasp of German and Spanish.[90] Johnson is a lover of Latin,[281] and regularly made use of Classical references in his newspaper columns and speeches.[251]

In 1987, he married Allegra Mostyn-Owen; the marriage was dissolved in 1993.[282] Later that year, he married Marina Wheeler, a barrister and daughter of journalist and broadcaster Sir Charles Wheeler and his wife, Dip Singh.[283] The Wheeler and Johnson families have known each other for decades,[284] and Marina Wheeler was at the European School in Brussels at the same time as her future husband. They have two daughters—Lara Lettice (born 1993) and Cassia Peaches (born 1997) —and two sons—Milo Arthur (born 1995) and Theodore Apollo (born 1999).[285] Johnson and his family live in Islington, North London. Johnson's stepmother, Jenny, the second wife of his father Stanley, is the stepdaughter of Teddy Sieff, the former chairman of Marks & Spencer.[286]

February 15, 2015 Boris Johnson announced his intention to give up US citizenship to prove his loyalty to Britain.[287][288]


Alleged theft of cigar case

Johnson has been investigated by the police for the theft, in 2003, of a cigar case belonging to Tariq Aziz, an associate of Saddam Hussein, which Johnson had found in the rubble of Aziz's house in Baghdad. Aziz is currently in prison in Iraq, having been convicted of ordering the summary execution of 42 merchants. He faces other charges in relation to the brutal suppression of the Shia Muslim uprising after the first 1991 Gulf War. At the time, Johnson wrote an article in The Daily Telegraph, stating he had taken the cigar case and would return it to its owner upon request.[289] Despite this admission in 2003, Johnson received no indication from the police that he was being investigated for theft until 2008, leading supporters of Johnson to express suspicion that the investigation coincided with his candidacy for the position of London Mayor. "This is a monumental waste of time", said Johnson.[290] On 24 June 2008, Johnson was forced to hand the cigar case over to police while they carried out enquiries into whether the Iraq (UN Sanctions) Order 2003 had been breached.[291]

Damian Green arrest

Johnson was informed in advance of the arrest of Conservative MP Damian Green and told acting Metropolitan Police Commissioner Paul Stephenson that he did not regard the arrest as 'common sense policing'.[292] A spokesman for Johnson says he told Stephenson he would need to see "convincing evidence that this action was necessary and proportionate," and that it would be better for police to spend their time preventing gun and knife crimes.[293] As chair of the Metropolitan Police Authority, Johnson's position means he is not permitted to be involved in operational matters. Additionally Johnson is prohibited by Section 3, Paragraph 2(d) of the London Assembly Code of Conduct from doing anything that compromises the impartiality of a police officer. Andy Hayman, former Metropolitan Police assistant commissioner, commented that Johnson "was informed of the Green arrest in his position as chairman of the police authority but chose to react in the role of prominent Tory politician" and called Johnson's actions "political interference in operational policing."[294]

A formal complaint against Johnson was filed on 6 December by Len Duvall, alleging that Johnson "is guilty of four 'clear and serious' code of conduct breaches by speaking to Green, an arrested suspect in an ongoing criminal investigation, and publicly prejudging the outcome of the police inquiry following a private briefing by senior officers" and that Johnson has brought the office of Mayor "into disrepute".[295] Johnson admitted to telephoning Green after he had been bailed, an action which Duvall, a former Metropolitan Police Authority chairman, described as "absolutely astonishing and inappropriate," while Stephenson said it would be "entirely inappropriate" to prejudge an inquiry. Johnson had stated that he "had a 'hunch'" that Green would not be charged.[296] The formal complaint gave investigators ten days to decide whether to submit Johnson to formal inquiry by the Standards Board for England, where a guilty verdict could have seen him suspended or removed as Mayor of London, or banned from public office for up to five years.[295]

On 7 January 2009, several sources reported that the Greater London Authority and the Metropolitan Police Authority had decided to pursue a formal investigation of Johnson in-house.[297][298] The GLA could have imposed a maximum penalty of three months' suspension from office if it had found Johnson guilty.[297] However, on 24 February 2009 the GLA announced that Johnson had been found not guilty on all counts.[299] However, despite clearing Johnson of any charges, investigator Jonathan Goolden said Johnson had been "extraordinary and unwise" in his actions and should be more careful in the future.[300]

On 16 April 2009, the Crown Prosecution Service announced that it was not going to bring a case against either Damian Green or Galley, the Home Office civil servant who passed data to Mr Green, as there was "insufficient evidence" for either to face charges. This followed the Commons Home Affairs Select Committee criticising Home Office civil servants for prompting the investigation by using "exaggerated" claims about the implications for national security that the leaks held.

"Chicken feed" remark

In a July 2009 interview with Stephen Sackur on the BBC programme HARDtalk, Johnson referred to the £250,000 per annum income he receives from his side job as a columnist for The Daily Telegraph as "chicken feed," suggesting that he wrote the columns "as a way of relaxation ... on a Sunday morning," and that he wrote "very fast" so the columns did not take time away from his duties as Mayor.[301] These comments were widely criticised, since the UK was at the time in economic recession and £250,000 is roughly 10 times the current average yearly wage for a worker in the UK.[302]

Responding to these comments, and in reaction to an upcoming restructuring exercise in which more than 100 jobs were expected to be eliminated at City Hall, the trade union UNISON, which represents 350 GLA staff, staged a protest featuring a "penned-up chicken man" being pelted with chicken feed by a Johnson lookalike in a pig mask.[303]

Veronica Wadley

In October 2009, it was alleged that Johnson had selected former Evening Standard editor Veronica Wadley as head of the Arts Council For London because of her support for his candidacy during his 2008 mayoral campaign.[304] Wadley was described by Liz Forgan, head of the Arts Council, as being "manifestly less qualified than three of her competitors", adding that she had "almost no arts credibility" and that she had been rejected in the first round of interviews by both Forgan and David Durie, being favoured only by Johnson's Cultural Advisor Munira Mirza. Johnson wrote to Culture Secretary Ben Bradshaw that he felt Wadley's "fundraising skills and views on music education made her the obvious candidate."[305]

Helen Macintyre

Johnson committed a "minor technical breach of the code of conduct" in failing "to formally disclose his relationship with unpaid City Hall adviser Helen Macintyre", the standards panel of the Greater London Authority found on 15 December 2010.[306]

The mayor's office insisted that Macintyre's appointment was part of a "thorough, transparent process",[307] and the standards panel deemed it an "oversight" not so serious as to require censure.[306] Johnson fathered a child with Macintyre in 2009.[308] It emerged on 21 May 2013 that Macintyre had lost an appeal against a July 2012 High Court ruling rejecting an application for a privacy injunction.[309] The Court of Appeal reaffirmed that it was in the "public interest" for the paternity of their daughter to be openly known.[308]

St Patrick's Day celebrations

In an interview for the New Statesman in February 2012 he criticised London's St Patrick's Day gala dinner celebrations. Linking them to Sinn Féin, he branded the event as 'Lefty crap'.[310] He subsequently apologised for the remarks.[311]

Remarks about women in Malaysian universities

Boris Johnson was present at the launch of the World Islamic Economic Forum in London in July 2013, where he answered questions alongside Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak and other public figures.[312][313][314] Responding to a question about women in the Islamic world, Razak said, "Before coming here, my officials have told me that the latest university intake in Malaysia, a Muslim country, 68% will be women entering our universities."[312][313][314] Johnson then interrupted and said, "They've got to find men to marry." The remark elicited laughter and groans, and was later criticised by women who attended the event and others who were offended.[312][313][314] Pippa Crerar, political correspondent for the London Evening Standard, was at the event and wrote that it was "a stupid comment" but "clearly a joke and was met with the groans it deserved".[312]

After controversy erupted, Johnson issued a statement: "Some people seem to have misconstrued something I said at a press conference 5 days ago, about relative male underachievement in university entrance. It is utterly ludicrous and infuriating to suggest that I think women go to University to find a husband. I was merely pointing out something that I've said several times before — that with a graduate cohort 68 per cent female you intensify the phenomenon sociologists identify as assortative mating."[313] A source at City Hall described the comment as "off the cuff and completely light-hearted".[315]

Charitable activity

Johnson is a supporter of many causes, particularly the teaching of Classics in inner city schools, and is a patron of The Iris Project. He has promised to donate £25,000 of his income from his Daily Telegraph column to such activities.[316]

Johnson has also supported Book Aid International amongst other charities.

In 2006, he took part in a charity football match between England and Germany, consisting of celebrities and former players. He came on as a substitute for England in the 85th minute and infamously rugby-tackled former German international Maurizio Gaudino, in an attempt to win the ball.[317]

Reception and legacy

Purnell described Johnson as "the most unconventional, yet compelling politician of the post-Blair era" in British politics.[249] She added that in Britain, he was "beloved by millions and recognised by all".[249] Gimson expressed the view that "people love him because he makes them laugh".[318]





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  315. Jump up ^ Dominiczak, Peter (9 July 2013). "Boris Johnson: Ludicrous to suggest I think women only go to university to find a husband". The Daily Telegraph (London). Retrieved 16 July 2013. 
  316. Jump up ^ Brook, Stephen (15 May 2008). "Boris to return to Telegraph column". The Guardian (London). Retrieved 1 April 2010. 
  317. Jump up ^ Fenton, Ben (5 April 2006). "Great tackle, Boris – but it's football, not rugby". The Daily Telegraph (London). 
  318. Jump up ^ Gimson 2012, p. 20.
  319. Jump up ^ "Sir James Fawcett". 17 January 2011. Retrieved 21 May 2013. 
  320. Jump up ^ "Fawcett, J. E. S. (James Edmund Sandford) 1913–1991: WorldCat" identities". 16 November 1970. Retrieved 21 May 2013. 
  321. Jump up ^ Apart from 6, 12 and 13, taken from the articles on persons in the Ancestral Chart and from the article on Prince Paul of Württemberg
  322. Jump up ^ "Boris Johnson, Mayor of London". Heraldic Media Limited. 12 May 2010. Retrieved 28 November 2013. 


Edwards, Giles (2008). Boris v. Ken: How Boris Johnson won London. Politico's Publishing Ltd. ISBN 978-1-84275-225-8. 
Gimson, Andrew (2012). Boris: The Rise of Boris Johnson (second ed.). Simon & Schuster. 
Hosken, Andrew (2008). Ken: The Ups and Downs of Ken Livingstone. Arcadia Books. ISBN 978-1-905147-72-4. 
Purnell, Sonia (2011). Just Boris: Boris Johnson: The Irresistible Rise of a Political Celebrity. Aurum Press Ltd. ISBN 1-84513-665-9. 


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