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All you need to know about UK's new PM

By The REDIFF NEWS BUREAU
July 23, 2019 16:30 IST

Boris Johnson is preparing for power as he is named the new Conservative chief -- and therefore United Kingdom's prime minister -- following a bruising six-week contest against rival Jeremy Hunt. 

An ardent backer of Brexit, Johnson has a reputation for brashness, bombast, bending the truth, and really bad hair, which has earned him more than a few comparisons to United States President Donald Trump (who also happens to be a fan of his).

Here are some interesting facts about BoJo, as he is called by the British media.

Photograph: Henry Nicholls/Reuters

>> Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson was born in New York City in 1954 (he gave up his US citizenship in 2016) and was educated at the prestigious English prep school Eton, and later at Oxford University.

 

>> >> According to Sonia Purnell, his biographer, as a child, Johnson wanted to be the “world king".

>> Johnson began his career as a journalist. He worked at the Times of London until he was fired in 1988 for fabricating a quote. He also served as the Brussels correspondent covering the European Union for the Telegraph (where he still has a column) from 1989 to 1994.

Photograph: Frank Augstein/Reuters

>> Johnson served two terms as London mayor, declining to run again in 2016. In 2015, he returned to Parliament winning a seat as an MP, a seat he still holds today.

>> He has been married twice. First to university sweetheart Allegra Mostyn-Owen, a former model who appeared on the cover of Tatler. Second to wife Marina Wheeler, a lawyer who specialises in human rights, employment and mental health. The 55-year-old is currently dating 31-year-old Carrie Symonds. Their relationship became one of the most talked about affairs when the police were called to the flat he shares with Symonds after a neighbour claimed he heard ‘screaming’ and ‘crashing’. Johnson refused to comment on the row and has insisted he plans to keep his private life secret.

Photograph: Darren Staples/Reuters

>> During his time as London's mayor, he introduced the public bicycle system called "Boris Bikes." He has been London's most prominent advocate of cycling, but gave up pedalling when he became foreign secretary.

>> Johnson is not afraid to make political gaffes. In fact, he has made several of them through his political career. In 2016, when then US President Barack Obama  removed a bust of Winston Churchill from the Oval office, Johnson wrote a column in The Sun in which he claimed the move was “a symbol of the part-Kenyan president’s ancestral dislike of the British Empire – of which Churchill had been such a fervent defender.” The comments were quickly dubbed racist.

Photograph: Issei Kato/Reuters

>> Johnson embraced the Leave campaign in February 2016, after a dramatic will-he-or-won’t-he that played out in public view. “I will be advocating Vote Leave ... because I want a better deal for the people of this country, to save them money and to take control,” Johnson said at the time. During his Brexit campaign, he also made a lot of questionable assertions about the EU-UK relationship, including a disputed claim that £350 million a week was going to the EU, which Brexiteers claimed could instead be used to fund Britain’s popular National Health Service.

>> In May of 2018, Johnson won £1,000 in a competition to write the best offensive poem about Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. In the poem, Johnson implied that Erdoğan was fond of having sex with goats.

Here's the winning text in full,

“There was a young fellow from Ankara, Who was a terrific w*nkerer.

“Till he sowed his wild oats, With the help of a goat, But he didn’t even stop to thankera.”

Photograph: Stefan Wermuth/Reuters

>> Johnson has insisted Britain can leave the European Union with a deal at the end of October if the country has the ‘will’ and the ‘drive’ for Brexit. He said if it was possible to get to the moon and back 50 years ago then the problem of frictionless trade on the Irish border could be solved.

Photograph: Eddie Keogh/Reuters

>> Johnson doesn't need to worry about his finances. He takes home almost £80,000 a year for being an MP and is paid £275,000 a year to write a column for The Telegraph.

>> Boris is a keen, competitive sportsman.  He has played cricket with Kevin Pietersen and played tennis with Andy Murray. 

The REDIFF NEWS BUREAU / Rediff.com
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