Politics

A brief history of Boris Johnson being terrible with money

Boris Johnson dismisses BBC chairman loan claims as 'a load of complete …

Boris Johnson is in the news again thanks to reports he may have enlisted the support of the BBC chair to get a hefty loan.

According to the Sunday Times, Richard Sharp of the BBC helped the former prime minister secure a loan guarantee of up to £800,000, weeks before he recommended him for the role.

Sharp said he had "simply connected" people and there was no conflict of interest. And Johnson's spokesman said he did not receive financial advice from Sharp.

Nevertheless, the reports have caused a stir and they are not the first time Johnson's personal finances looked like they could do with being looked at by Martin Lewis.

Take a look at his infamous gold wallpaper, for instance. This being the £840 a roll wallpaper he used to redecorate his Downing Street flat as part of a bigger redecoration overseen by Lulu Lytle, which cost at least £112,000.

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Johnson was criticised for trying to get Tory donor Lord Brownlow to fund the revamp and the Conservative Party was later fined £17,800 by the Electoral Commission for breaching electoral law over the way the money was recorded.

His trouble didn't stop there. Also in 2021, a Sunday Times report quoted a government source suggesting that the prime minister was so hard up that he had missed key emergency meetings at the start of the pandemic due to "working on a biography of Shakespeare, the money from which he needed to fund his divorce."

In the same year, multiple reports suggested he was struggling and turning to donors for help.

That was also the year Jennifer Arcuri made a number of allegations about her relationship with the politician, including that he asked him to cover the cost of his pint when the pair met for a drink.

She said: "He went to the bar and came back within a minute and said, ‘Jennifer can I borrow £3.10’ I thought, ‘I’m a student buying you a beer, you should be ashamed of yourself’.

“It cracked me up. He asked things like where did you come from, what do you want to be I remember being enchanted with this man.”

Reports about Johnson's relationship with money continued. In 2020 a source close to Johnson allegedly told the Times: “He’s always worried about money, he has a genuine need to provide for his family, all of them, and I think that does worry him.”

He must have been very worried about money in 2013 when he had pizza with David Cameron and George Osborne in Davos and left without paying his share of the bill. “I felt very guilty because I had to leave early to see the Malaysian prime minister to talk about the wonderful investments they are making in London,” the then mayor told the Evening Standard.

“So I’m not sure how the evening concluded. But I’m ashamed to say I left without paying my share. I have got to cough up.”

This is not the first time he had forgotten a debt. Johnson bet Sir Max Hastings £1,000 the Tories would win a majority at the 2010 election. Sir Max asked for his money after the election. After months of stalling Boris sent a letter saying “cheque enclosed” but it was just an empty envelope, so the story goes.

Meanwhile, in 2009 when he was the mayor, he dismissed his £250,000 a year side hustle writing newspaper columns as "chicken feed" in an interview with the BBC.

And there are reports he didn't pay his Spectator interns back when they went on coffee runs.

And the tightness doesn't stop there.

"All the way through his life he has been very successful at avoiding paying for anything," Sonia Purnell, Johnson's biographer who used to work with him as a journalist told Insider.

"It's a game he has always played... I mean what does he spend his money on? It's certainly not on buying people rounds of drinks in the pub.

"He's never done that. All the time I was in Brussels... you would go to the bar and he would drink other people's drinks and never ever buy a drink. I mean never.

Finally, when first dating his second wife he claimed to have taken her to a meeting of the Hare Krishnas in order to avoid paying for lunch, he told the Evening Standard in 2008.

Sounds like someone needs a lesson from Lee Anderson about budgeting.

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