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Boris Johnson - London Mayor

Updated on August 17, 2014

Politician, Journalist & Columnist

Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson (born 19 June 1964) is a British politician and journalist. The current Mayor of London, he previously served as the Conservative Member of Parliament for Henley on Thames and as editor of The Spectator magazine.

Much of the world saw Boris Johnson for the first time when the London mayor waved the Olympic flag at the closing ceremonies in Beijing. No doubt they wondered, "Who is that man with the floppy hair and the ill-fitting suit?"

And what does Boris call 'whiff whaff'? Find out further down.

Boris Johnson Biography

Johnson was educated at Eton and Balliol College, Oxford, where he read Classics. He began his journalism career with The Times, and later moved on to The Daily Telegraph where he was assistant editor. He was appointed editor of The Spectator in 1999.

In the 2001 general election he was elected to the House of Commons and became one of the most high profile politicians in the country, partly because of his distinctive appearance and persona. He gained praise for several appearances on the Have I Got News for You television programme, but received negative headlines in October 2004 after an editorial column in The Spectator criticised the people of Liverpool after the death of Kenneth Bigley. He has also written several books.

Under Michael Howard, Johnson briefly served on the Conservative front bench as the Shadow Minister for the Arts from April 2004 until November 2004 when he was sacked after allegedly lying to Howard when denying he had had an affair with Petronella Wyatt. When contemporary David Cameron was elected leader of the Conservative Party in 2005, Johnson was re-appointed to the front bench as Shadow Minister for Higher Education and resigned as editor of The Spectator to concentrate on his new role. In September 2007 he was selected as the Conservative candidate for the 2008 Mayor of London election. Johnson defeated Labour incumbent Ken Livingstone and was elected Mayor, after which he resigned as an MP.

Boris Johnson - Playboy
Boris Johnson - Playboy

Three Reasons to Love Boris Johnson

Insane clown? Born in New York, educated at Eton and Oxford, and schooled in the rough-and-tumble world of British media and politics, London Mayor Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson is not your standard politician, to say the least. But is there more to the man than caricature? "Beneath the carefully constructed veneer of a blithering buffoon," the mop-headed Johnson once joked, "there lurks a blithering buffoon."

Renaissance man: As a conservative member of Parliament, a regular columnist for The Daily Telegraph, and the editor of Britain's feisty conservative weekly, The Spectator, Johnson railed against bureaucracy and political correctness, using his rapier wit to ridicule the ruling Labour Party. His journalism career did not begin so well, however: He was fired from his first reporting job at The Times for falsifying a quote.

Playboy: Johnson is not known as a party animal, though he has admitted to past drug use. "I think I was once given cocaine but I sneezed and so it did not go up my nose. In fact, I may have been doing icing sugar," he once told the BBC television program Have I Got News for You. Above, Johnson attends a book-launch party for Viz, a raunchy adult comic magazine, on Oct. 27, 2004.

On the Campaign Trail for Mayor of London

Back Boris: The Conservative Party announced Johnson as its candidate for mayor on Sept. 27, 2007. He ran under the official slogan, "Back Boris for a greater London," though he has also been quoted as saying in past Tory campaigns, "If you vote for the Conservatives, your wife will get bigger breasts, and your chances of driving a BMW M3 will increase."

Play "whiff whaff"?

Taking the torch: Assuming the reins from Beijing as the next Olympic host, Johnson couldn't help himself. "Ping-Pong was invented on the dining tables of England and it was called whiff whaff," he said at a party after the closing ceremonies. "Other nations such as the French looked at the dining table and saw the opportunity to have dinner. We looked at the dining table and saw an opportunity to play whiff whaff." Let the games begin!

Boris Johnson in Beijing - August 2008

with Jacques Rogge (IOC President)

Olympic torch passes into a very different pair of hands.

BEIJING: If there were any doubts that the 2012 Olympics in London would be different from those in Beijing, they vanished as soon as the mayor of London appeared during the closing ceremony.

Boris Johnson appeared after Guo Jinlong, his Beijing counterpart, and Jacques Rogge, the president of the International Olympic Committee, had given speeches.

Guo and Rogge were thin, erect and serious, creaselessly encased in their dark suits. Johnson shambled out, his middle button undone, a hand in his pocket. He waved and pointed and pumped his fist and grinned; a naughty schoolboy out with the grownups.

Johnson was there for one of the many rituals built into the Games. Guo passed the Olympic flag to Rogge, who passed it to Johnson - a relay to symbolize the passing of the Olympics from one city to another.

For an agonizing moment, as Johnson fumbled with the flag pole, it seemed he would drop the baton.

Whether London will drop that baton is, in a manner of speaking, a question representatives from London have found themselves asked repeatedly over the past two weeks. How will they follow Beijing?

How will they follow this no-expenses-spared Olympics, with its spectacular arenas, its clockwork organization and its implacable attention to detail? How they will follow the army of smiling volunteers? How will they follow the opening ceremony?

(excerpt from Peter Berlin's article in the Herald Tribune - August 24, 2008)

Other Interests

Besides his work as a journalist, he has published several books, including 'Lend Me Your Ears, Friends, Voters and Countrymen', an autobiographical account of his experience of the 2001 election campaign, and a novel, 'Seventy-Two Virgins'.

He regularly appears on TV and has been a contestant on 'Have I Got News For You', a BBC satirical programme. He has also produced a series on Roman History from his book of the same name, The Dream of Rome.

In 2001 he was elected MP for Henley on Thames, replacing Michael Heseltine. He has held shadow government posts as Vice Chairman, Shadow Minister for the Arts and Shadow Minister of Higher Education. In July 2007, Boris Johnson resigned from his position as shadow education secretary so that he would be free to stand as Conservative candidate for Mayor of London. He resigned as MP for Henley shortly after becoming Mayor of London.

As well as being a passionate cyclist, he enjoys painting, playing tennis and spends much of his time bringing up his four children with his wife Marina in North London.

Boris Dons a Pink Stetson to Join in Gay Pride March

July 2008

He has never been known for his sense of style. Nor has Boris Johnson ever been an outspoken defender of gay rights. Which is why it was perhaps surprising to see the tousle-haired Old Etonian donning a strident pink cowboy hat and leading the parade at Gay Pride.

Occasionally criticised as being homophobic, London's Mayor appears to have had a Damascene-like conversion when it comes to gay rights.

Once a staunch supporter of controversial Section 28 - the legislation that stopped councils from 'promoting' homosexuality as normal - the ex-Spectator editor once likened gay marriage to marrying a dog.

He wrote: "If gay marriage was 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."

The theme of the parde is "fairy tales, myths and legends".

Meanwhile, lesbian and gay church groups will be campaigning in support of the ordination of gay clergy, an issue that is threatening to cause a schism in the Anglican Communion.

Boris Johnson Named Joker of the Year (2008)

London Mayor Boris Johnson has been named joker of the year at this year's Lafta awards.

Johnson won the gong "for somehow managing to get the top job in London", awards organisers said. He beat canoe couple John and Anne Darwin, Balthazar Getty, Calum Best and Fern Britton who had been nominated in the category.

Loaded editor Martin Daubney said: "This year's Laftas proves yet again that comedy is the lifeblood of our nation. From legends such as Harry Enfield to shows like My Name Is Earl, the UK loves to laugh and we're delighted to celebrate the cream of the funny guys and girls at this year's Loaded Laftas!"

Amy Winehouse and Pete Doherty playing with mice on YouTube won funniest online moment.

Jimmy Carr, Leigh Francis and Paul Kaye also scooped gongs. Francis, who plays northern wide boy Keith Lemon, snatched the title of funniest man from last year's winner Justine Lee Collins. Kaye, known for his alter-ego Mike Strutter, picked up the award for funniest TV personality.

Carr retained his crown as the UK's best stand up for another year, beating off stiff competition from the likes of Al Murray and Frankie Boyle. Jones, who grabbed the gong from her Gavin and Stacey co-star Joanna Page, described her win as "lush!"

Boris the Comedian - Good for Politics?

Does politics need more comedians or is it too much of a serious profession? I suppose, in some sense, we consider most politicians to be comedians!

Do you think funny people make better politicians?

See results

Cartoon Hero Boris!

BBC - Who Do You Think You Are?

Boris appeared on this popular series searching for his roots.

On 20 August 2008 Johnson was the subject of the BBC family history programme Who Do You Think You Are?.

He was revealed to be a direct, if illegitimate, descendant of George II of Great Britain through his eight times grandmother Augusta of Brunswick-Wolfenbüttel, granddaughter of George II and wife of Friedrich I of Württemberg, and thence through their son Prince Paul of Württemberg and Paul's illegitimate daughter, Adelheid von Rothenburg. Adelheid (known as Caroline) married Baron de Pfeffel, from whom Boris takes one of his middle names. By his descent from George II of Great Britain he is also descendant of all the other major European royal houses.

His Turkish great grandfather, Ali Kemal Bey, who was also, like Johnson, a politician and journalist, was assassinated in the 1920s following political conflict in Turkey.

Shout Out For Good 'ol Boris!

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      6 years ago

      The guy is a star!

    • profile image


      8 years ago

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      8 years ago

      its good to know about a London mayor with a rare sense of style and idiosyncrasy. the magazine showing young borris was real fun. good job.

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      8 years ago

      Hi,, Thanks for the information..its really helping me..

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