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48 things you need to know about Boris Johnson, the man with the botched leadership coup

A fitting 48 times the hapless foreign secretary, currently backtracking from his bungled attempt to topple Theresa May, outraged with his thoughtless comments and ill-judged actions

1) During the London Riots of 2011 it took mayor Boris Johnson three days to return from holiday in Canada. He said: “I came as fast as I could.”

2) Johnson has claimed he was arrested and spent a night in the cells after members of Oxford University society the Bullingdon Club threw a flowerpot through a restaurant window in 1987. In 2010 the Financial Times revealed both he and David Cameron had escaped before the police arrived. One former ‘Buller’ member said: “I never knew Boris could run so fast.”

3) Boris on Nigel Farage, 2013: “(He) has always struck me as a rather engaging geezer.”

4) Despite making a campaign speech in front of a poster reading ‘Let’s give our NHS the £350million the EU takes every week’, Johnson has appeared to backtrack on the discredited Leave pledge, saying only that “there will be a substantial sum of money… which could be used on priorities such as the NHS.”

5) Boris claims his antipathy towards the EU stems from a stint as Daily Telegraph Brussels correspondent in 1989. Says his successor Martin Fletcher: “He seized his chance to denigrate the EU, filing stories that were undoubtedly colourful but also completely untrue.”

6) During Johnson’s stay in Belgium, Margaret Thatcher was deposed as Tory PM. Johnson wrote that his wife Marina “came upon me, stumbling down a street in Brussels, tears in my eyes and claiming it was as if someone had shot nanny“.

7) Boris on the people of the Commonwealth, 2002: “It is said that the Queen has come to love the Commonwealth, partly because it supplies her with regular cheering crowds of flag-waving piccaninnies.”

8) According to a 2003 Observer profile of Johnson: “Rod Liddle recalls that when he and Johnson went to Uganda, Johnson cheerily remarked to the Swedish Unicef workers and their black driver: ‘Right, let’s go and look at some more piccaninnies.'”

9) In June 2015, sources close to the then London Mayor told the Sunday Times he was beginning to favour a double referendum solution. In March 2016 he wrote: “EU history shows that they only really listen to a population when it says ‘no’.” A week later, Johnson said he’d been misunderstood and that “no means no”.

10) Boris on gay marriage, 2001: “If it was OK… then I saw no reason in principle why a union should not be consecrated between three men, as well as town men; or indeed three men and a dog.”

11) Boris on Section 28, 2000: “We don’t want our children being taught some rubbish about homosexual marriage being the same as normal marriage.”

12) The tailcoat Johnson wore in the famous photograph of he and David Cameron in the Bullingdon Club uniform cost him £1,200.

13) Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson is an anagram of “Irony! Rash Snob Forges Rejection”.

14) When the young Boris Johnson was asked what he would like to be when he grew up, he replied: “The world king.”

15) Two years older than his fellow Old Etonian, Johnson sometimes refers to David Cameron as ‘Cameron Minor’.

16) Boris Johnson was born on June 19, 1964. Fittingly, No. 1 in the UK at the time was It’s Over by Roy Orbison.

17) Though he now claims his spell in ‘the Buller’ was characterised by self-loathing, Johnson was an enthusiastic participant at the time. Oxford contemporary Radek Sikorski, later Polish foreign affairs minister, recalled being “awaken from a deep sleep by a dozen men in tailocats, who smashed up my furniture, books, hi-fi, everything. Then Boris shook my hand and said, ‘Congratulations, you’ve been elected!‘”

18) Boris on Vladimir Putin, 2015: “He is allegedly the linchpin of a vast post-Soviet gangster kleptocracy… he is a ruthless and manipulative tyrant.”

19) When Johnson became editor of The Spectator one of his first acts was to reduce deputy editor Petronella Wyatt’s salary. They later embarked on an affair.

20) During their friendship, Wyatt said Johnson was fond of wearing a bandana with a skull and crossbones on it.

21) Johnson told Wyatt he approved of cigarettes “because I approve of freedom”. Later, while running for London mayor, he called for a referendum on the smoking ban before saying he was in favour of it.

22) Johnson initially denied he’d had an affair with Wyatt, calling it “balderdash… an inverted pyramid of piffle”. He was sacked as shadow arts minister in 2004 when it was discovered that he had been lying.

23) Brought back as a junior shadow education minister in 2005, Boris went on to have a fling with Times Educational Supplement journalist Anna Fazackerley. Married Johnson fathered a love child, Stephanie, with art consultant Helen McIntyre in 2009.

24) Johnson’s former Telegraph editor, Max Hastings, wrote: “I would not trust him with my wife nor – from painful experience – my wallet. It is hard to believe that an man so conspicuously incapable of controlling his own libido is fit to be trusted with controlling the country.”

25) Boris on Uganda, 2002: “If left to their own devices, the natives would rely on nothing but the instant carbohydrate gratification of the plantain.”

26) Boris on stag hunting, 2004: “I remember the guts streaming, and the stag turds spilling out onto the grass from within the ventral cavity. Then they cut out the heart and gave it to my six-year-old brother, still beating, he claimed ever afterwards, or still twitching, and he went home singing ‘We’ve got the heart!… hunting is best for the deer.”

27) Running as a Thatcherite Conservative, Johnson lost his first attempt to become president of the Oxford Union, in 1984. He won on his second attempt, having branded himself as an environmentalist and a supporter of proportional representation.

28) Boris was sacked by the Times in 1987 for inventing a quote. Revealing that the location of Edward II’s long-lost palace on the South Bank had finally been discovered, he claimed his godfather, Oxford don Sir Ian Lucas, had said that it was there that Edward “had enjoyed a reign of dissolution with his catamite, Piers Gaveston”. But the palace had only been built in 1325 and Gaveston was beheaded 13 years earlier.

29) Boris on the immigrant population of Peckham, 2003: “They take their benefits from the state, but feel no particular loyalty in return.”

30) In 1990, during a taped telephone call, Johnson implied he would provide old Bullingdon Club chum Darius Guppy with the address of a journalist who had been investigating his family. The recording features Guppy saying: “Boris, this guy has got my blood up and there is nothing I won’t do to get my revenge.” Johnson replies: “Uh, how badly are you going to hurt this guy?” When Guppy answers “not badly at all”, Johnson adds: “If this guy is seriously hurt I will be f***ing furious.”

31) In 1993, Guppy was sentenced to five years in prison for fraud. His family went to stay with Earl Spencer, brother of Princess Diana, who Guppy later beat up, leaving him with a fractured cheekbone, black eyes and concussion. Johnson said Guppy lives by a “Homeric code of honour, loyalty and revenge.”

32) Johnson was selected for the safe Tory seat of Henley in 2000, beating London barrister David Platt to the nomination. During the campaign, Platt was the victim of an anonymous letter-writing campaign, suggesting he was gay and his girlfriend was merely “window dressing”. There is no suggestion that Johnson and his team were involved.

33) Boris insulted both America’s president and the candidate he beat. He said the only reason he wouldn’t visit New York was “the real risk of meeting Donald Trump” and said Hillary Clinton looked like “a sadistic nurse in a mental hospital”.

34) Boris said “part-Kenyan” president Barack Obama had removed a bust of Winston Churchill from the Oval Office because of an “ancestral dislike” for the UK, a claim which Churchill’s grandson Nicholas Soames MP called “appalling”.

35) Boris had become editor of the Spectator in 1999 after promising owner Conrad Black he would not run for office. When he decided to stand for Henley, Black revealed: “Boris confessed quite openly that indeed he had misled us but he had done so out of perhaps an excess of patriotic zeal.”

36) While editor of the Spectator in 2004, Johnson approved an article which criticised Liverpudlians for “disproportionate” grief at the killing of hostage Ken Bigley. It said: “They see themselves whenever possible as victims and resent their victim status, yet at the same time they wallow in it.”

37) Johnson on morals, 2008: “Hypocrisy is at the heart of our national character.”

38) Running for mayor in 2007, Johnson pledged to get rid of London’s bendy buses as “they wipe out cyclists, there are many cyclists killed every year by them”. In fact, no London cyclists were killed by bendy buses from their introduction in 2001 until their removal in 2011.

39) As mayor, Johnson claimed that he would introduce ‘Boris bikes’ to London “at no cost to the taxpayer”. In 2013 it was revealed that each bike was actually costing Londoners £1,400 and that the annual £11million subsidy could have bought each of the 38,000 annual users their own bicycle.

40) Boris on Islamist terrorists, 2015: “They typically will look at porn. They are literally wankers. Severe onanists.”

41) Boris showed off his diplomatic skills at a St George’s Day celebration in 2009, telling a cheering crowd: “There are 185,000 words in German. How many words are there in the English language? Half a million!”

42) Boris on Tony Blair’s visit to the Congo, 2002: “No doubt the AK47s will fall silent and the pangas will stop their hacking of human flesh, and the tribal warrirors will all break out in watermelon smiles to see the big white chief.”

43) In 2006 Johnson claimed Turkey should be allowed to join the EU, telling a BBC documentary: “What are we saying if we perpetually keep Turkey out of the European Union just because it’s Muslim? It sends out the worst possible signal to moderates in the Islamic world, saying that we can’t incorprate such a country.”

44) In May last year, Johnson won £1,000 in a Spectator offensive poetry competition for an entry which rhymed “Ankara” with “wankerer”. The same poem suggested Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdo?an had lost his virginity to a goat.

45) Johnson’s great-grandfather Ali Kemal was born in Istanbul. Boris’ cousin Sinan Kuneralp has claimed Johnson’s revived stance on the EU means “his own grandfather wouldn’t have been able to come to the UK”.

46) Boris on Africa, 2002: “The continent may be a blot, but it is not a blot upon our conscience. The problem is not that we were once in charge, but that we are not in charge any more.”

47) Boris on the inquiry into the Met Police’s investigation of Stephen Lawrence’s murder, 2003: “There has been a whiff of the witch-hunt… Am I alone in wondering whether a sensible attempt to find justice for the family of Stephen Lawrence has given way to hysteria?”

48) Boris on South Africa, 2003: “The minority tyranny of apartheid… followed by the majority tyranny of black rule.”

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