Boris Johnson may be one of the most controversial political players this generation has seen.
From telling a colleague to “pat (his boss) on the bottom and send her on her way,” to calling women in burqa “letterboxes,” and working-class British men “criminal” and “hopeless,” he has earned himself many enemies throughout his career as a Times and Daily Telegraph journalist and U.K. politician.
But is there more to the mop-headed British leader than this? Here are 10 interesting facts you might not have heard before.
Boris Johnson: 7 Interesting Facts about the British Leader
1. His first name is Alexander.
Boris Johnson was born Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson of New York City. He was born in 1964, while his father—an Englishman—was studying at Columbia University. Because he was born in the U.S., he has dual citizenship—he has an American and British passport.
When Johnson was 5 years old, he moved back to England with his family.
As a child, Johnson was deaf, thanks to a bout of glue ear which caused short-term hearing loss. He had a grommet inserted into his eardrum to drain the fluid from his ear.
As a teenager, he won a scholarship to Eton, and then went on to Balliol College, Oxford.
2. He gave up American citizenship in 2017.
Because Boris Johnson had dual citizenship, he was liable to pay taxes in both the U.S. and England, an interesting fact about Boris Johnson. In 2015, the American IRS ordered the politician to pay capital gains tax on the massive profit he made on the sale of his North London home. He paid the tax and then surrendered his U.S. citizenship.
Quick side fact: If Johnson didn’t surrender his U.S. citizenship, he could have campaigned for election in the U.S. presidential race after serving out his term as prime minister.
3. He became a member of parliament after being a journalist.
Boris Johnson did a brief stint as a management consultant before he started as a journalist with The Times in 1987. He got fired for misquoting a source.
After Johnson was fired from The Times, he managed to find journalism jobs at The Daily Telegraph and The Spectator. Although his ethical hiccup slowed his advancement and his click-bait headlines were untrue and inflammatory, his charisma helped him garner a following of right-leaning readers.
In 2004, he had to apologize to an entire U.K. city—Liverpool—for his insensitive and uneducated comments in an editorial. He accused the city’s people of milking “victim status” after the horrific soccer stadium disaster that killed almost 100 people at the end of the 80s.
In 200,1 he became a Member of Parliament, a position he served in until 2008. He was then elected mayor of London, and held that role until 2016.
4. He’s accident-prone.
Johnson is a strong advocate for physical activity and exercise, and likes to jog and cycle around the city. He is also an avid rugby fan, which ties in well with his competitive and brash nature.
As a foreign secretary, Johnson found himself in hot water after knocking down a 10 year old boy during a rugby match in Japan, an interesting fact about Boris Johnson.
In 2006, during a recreation of the FIFA ’66 soccer game where England beat Germany, Johnson took it upon himself to tackle German player Maurizio Gaudino after the score started to stray from the historical script. Sadly, it didn’t help England win.
5. Although he leads the Conservative party, his views align with progressivism (kind of).
Johnson’s views on societal issues can best be described as liberal.
While he was serving as foreign secretary, there was a ban on U.K. embassies and high commissions flying the LGBT pride rainbow flag. Johnson lifted the ban.
He has also been known to abstain on voting to limit abortions in the U.K. although critics say this is more to align with his persistent cheating scandals than with the societal campaign.
Johnson has been vocal recently about supporting the LGBT community and promoting same-sex marriage. Again, critics are able to conjure many of Johnson’s quotes from his days as a journalist, where he called homosexual men “tank-topped bumboys,” and attempted to link same-sex marriage to bestiality.
6. He makes model buses.
To unwind after a difficult day of U.K. and international political wheeling and dealing, it’s no wonder the prime minister needs to rewind.
And to do so, he makes models of buses, an interesting fact about Boris Johnson.
And not the fancy manufactured kinds you find at a model store. He creates his own buses out of old wine boxes, and paints smiling passengers into the seats, unlike the usual grumpy passengers we all see on the bus every day.
His quirky hobby might stem from the “Boris Bus” scheme, where he worked to have a hybrid bus introduced to the public transport system of London. The initiative was scrapped after Boris Johnson stepped down as London mayor.
7. He creates scandal wherever he goes.
Boris Johnson’s first wife, Allegra, left after discovering his affair with Marina Wheeler—who would go on to become his second wife.
During his time as editor of the Spectator, he was accused of groping two women. The women came forward with their claims when Johnson rose to political power.
In 2004, Boris Johnson was sacked as shadow arts minister for an affair with Petronella Wyatt. The Conservative Party officials explained that the move was because of his failure to be candid and honest following allegations he had paid for his mistress to have an abortion. At the same time, sources say Johnson was having an affair with Anna Fazackerly, although that one did not last as long. Wheeler threw him out of their home temporarily.
In 2009, less than a year after becoming mayor of London, Helen Macintyre—another of the duplicitous politician’s mistresses—gave birth to his child.
Johnson’s second wife and mother of four, Marina Wheeler, filed for divorce in 2018.
In June 2019, an altercation with his current partner was leaked to the media, in which Carrie Symonds yells “get off me.”
In October 2019, he found himself in hot water again, after cheating on his partner with Jennifer Arcuri. Arcuri’s company received a £100,000 ($131,000 USD) government grant while Johnson was mayor. The American received the grant, which was earmarked to grow British tech businesses.
Never a figure to shy away from scandal, Boris Johnson continues to draw attention for his political views and personal antics. He is widely acknowledged by his peers in a negative light, with media boss Conrad Black calling him “ineffably duplicitous.”
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