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|| June 19, 1964
May 30, 2021 12:54pm
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|Info||Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson is a British politician and the incoming Mayor of London. He is also a journalist and author, formerly serving as editor of The Spectator. He was elected as Member of Parliament for Henley in 2001 and was Shadow Minister for Higher Education, until the announcement of his intention to stand in the London mayoral election of 2008, his victory being announced on May 2, 2008. |
Johnson is the oldest of the four children of Stanley Johnson, a former Conservative MEP and employee of the European Commission and World Bank and his first wife, painter Charlotte Johnson Wahl.
Johnson was born in New York, but his family returned to England soon afterwards as his mother had yet to take her Oxford finals. As a child, Johnson suffered from severe deafness and had to undergo several operations to have grommets inserted in his ears, and was reportedly rather quiet as a child. He was educated at the European School in Brussels, Ashdown House and then at Eton College, where he was a King's Scholar. He read Classics at Balliol College, Oxford as a Brackenbury scholar, and was elected President of the Oxford Union, at his second attempt.
In 1987 he married Allegra Mostyn-Owen but the marriage lasted less than a year, finally being dissolved in 1993. Later that same year he married Marina Wheeler, a barrister, the daughter of journalist and broadcaster Charles Wheeler. They have two sons (Theo and Milo) and two daughters (Lara and Cassia).
Upon graduating from Oxford he lasted a week as a management consultant before becoming a trainee reporter for The Times. Within a year he was sacked for falsifying a quotation from his godfather, Colin Lucas, later vice-chancellor of Oxford University.
After a short time as a writer for the Wolverhampton Express & Star, he joined The Daily Telegraph in 1987 as leader and feature writer, and from 1989 to 1994 was the paper's European Community correspondent. He served as assistant editor from 1994 to 1999. His association with The Spectator began as political columnist from 1994 to 1995. In 1999 he became editor of The Spectator, where he stayed until December 2005 upon being appointed Shadow Minister for Higher Education.
He wrote an autobiographical account of his experience of the 2001 election campaign Friends, Voters, Countrymen: Jottings on the Stump. He is also author of three collections of journalism, Johnson's Column, Lend Me Your Ears and Have I Got Views For You. His first novel was Seventy-Two Virgins, published in 2004. He was nominated in 2004 for a British Academy Television Award, and has attracted several unofficial fan clubs and sites.
Johnson is a popular historian and his first documentary series, The Dream of Rome, comparing the Roman Empire and the modern-day European Union, was broadcast in 2006.
In 2001, Johnson was elected MP for Henley-on-Thames, succeeding Michael Heseltine, having previously been defeated in Clwyd South in the 1997 general election. In 2004 he was appointed to the front bench as Shadow Minister for the Arts in a small reshuffle.
Johnson was dismissed from this post in November 2004 over accusations that he lied to Michael Howard about a four-year extra-marital affair with Petronella Wyatt, The Spectator's New York correspondent and former deputy editor. Johnson derided these allegations, but Howard sacked Johnson because he believed press reports showed Johnson had lied.
He was appointed Shadow Minister for Higher Education on 9 December 2005 by the new Conservative leader David Cameron, and resigned as editor of The Spectator soon afterwards. On 2 April 2006 it was alleged in the News of the World that Johnson had had another extramarital affair, this time with Times Higher Education Supplement journalist Anna Fazackerley.
Johnson stood for the February 2006 election of Rector at the University of Edinburgh, after receiving seven times more nominations than needed to stand. His presence as candidate caused an unprecedented turn-out and sparked an "Anyone but Boris" campaign. Protests included having drinks thrown over him at his first of two visits to the student body. Johnson eventually polled third of four.
On 16 July 2007, Johnson announced he was a potential Conservative candidate for the London mayoral election in 2008. At the same time he resigned as shadow Higher Education spokesman, but remained an MP, and according to The Independent enjoyed the "tacit support" of David Cameron.
Johnson's candidacy for London Mayor was confirmed by the Conservative Party on 27 September 2007.bHis election campaign was launched in Edmonton on 31 March 2008.
On 1 May 2008 in the Daily Telegraph, the Conservative journalist Simon Heffer found Johnson an unsuitable proposition as Mayor. He criticised Johnson's scattergun attitude to everything he does and "the charm of doing nothing properly". Another conservative journalist, Peregrine Worsthorne on The First Post website, was similarly dismissive. He also thought Johnson could not be serious about anything and Worsthorne was gloomy about Johnson's potential impact on the Cameron project; "should he actually win, the Tory party could be in serious trouble", because of the implication that a Cameron government might be incompetent too.
A few minutes before midnight on the evening of 2 May 2008, Boris Johnson was confirmed as having won the London Mayor election, beating the incumbent Ken Livingstone. He won on second preference votes, as he did not receive enough first preference votes to win outright. Boris announced that as a result of his victory he will resign as an MP.
Johnson has appeared on the British television programme Have I Got News for You four times as a guest presenter and three times as a panellist. The tabloid press, before he became an MP, tagged him as the show's star, even though he had then appeared only twice on a programme that had run for ten years. He has also taken part in the similar Radio 4 programme, The News Quiz.
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