x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

Boris Johnson: Man with knack of bouncing back

The London mayor is now tipped to lead the Conservative party in the United Kingdom.

Shahriar Khodjasteh, president of Dubai Desert Extreme, gets a cycling jersey autographed by Mr Johnson. Sarah Dea / The National
Shahriar Khodjasteh, president of Dubai Desert Extreme, gets a cycling jersey autographed by Mr Johnson. Sarah Dea / The National

DUBAI // Boris Johnson is a politician whose career has been littered with indiscretions and controversies but he keeps bouncing back.

Now many believe the London mayor's remarkable ability to turn disaster into triumph could bounce him all the way to the top.

He is the favourite to succeed prime minister David Cameron as leader of the Conservative party.

His popularity among party members, voters and young people who appreciate his quirky sense of humour is a rare attribute in a politician. Most simply call him Boris.

With his unkempt blond hair and a manner sometimes described as buffoonish, Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson, 48, is a unique figure in British politics. But that image conceals a sharp mind and impressive political abilities.

Labour politician Ken Livingstone, a veteran of 15 elections over 41 years who was twice beaten by Mr Johnson in mayoral votes, described him as his "most formidable opponent".

Some of the more contentious moments in Mr Johnson's career were revisited last month in a no-holds-barred interview with the BBC's Eddie Mair. The broadcaster gave him such a savaging that some reckoned his hopes of one day becoming prime minister had been dented.

Typically, Mr Johnson defused the situation by remarking disarmingly that Mair had done a "splendid job" of holding him to account.

Mr Johnson's profile rose to a new level last summer when he basked in the reflected glory from London's successful Olympic Games.

His ability to retrieve even the most awkward situation was demonstrated yet again when he celebrated Britain's first gold medal by taking a trip on a zip-wire. He became stuck and was left dangling six metres in the air, but his amused reaction saved what could have been a humiliating predicament.

Even Mr Cameron, who is said to have an uneasy relationship with the mayor, was impressed.

The prime minister said: "If any other politician anywhere in the world was stuck on a zip-wire it would be a disaster. For Boris, it's an absolute triumph."

 

csimpson@thenational.ae