News World Meet Boris Johnson, hair apparent to take charge at 10 Downing Street

Meet Boris Johnson, hair apparent to take charge at 10 Downing Street

Boris Johnson
Boris Johnson deliberately cultivates that unkempt mass of blond locks, according to a biographer. Photo: Getty
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Forget Donald Trump. Boris Johnson is hurtling towards becoming Great Britain’s next prime minister.

Just as politics was transformed in the US, as Mr Johnson walks through the doors at Downing Street, there will be a seismic shift in the landscape. And the blond bombshell will take at least some of the spotlight that has been dedicated to the US President.

It might sound trivial, but according to Sonia Purnell, the author of Just Boris: A Tale of Blond Ambition, it is his blond hair that has been one of Mr Johnson’s greatest assets on his rise to the top.

“When I met him in the 1990s his blond hair was really neat but it didn’t quite suit the image that he wanted,” Ms Purnell said.

“So over the years he got used to – particularly when the camera’s about to roll – to ruffling it up.

“Neat didn’t quite fit the persona he wanted, the sort of [rough] kind of character.”

His hair became his trademark, but it’s not the only reason for the comparisons to the US leader.

His survival through years of gaffes and controversies and his flamboyancy in front of the press are all Trump-like.

“They both rely on celebrity a lot. They have both created a public persona and have worked hard on it,” Ms Purnell said.

“They’re both sort of economical with the truth, shall we say. It’s as if morality does not apply to Boris Johnson, just like normal moral standards do not apply to Donald Trump.”

Mr Johnson also has a reputation as a serial philanderer. Two of his marriages have ended.

Ms Purnell says he has at least five children, including a daughter born in 2009 after he had an affair with an arts consultant.

‘He is underestimated’

Mr Johnson’s personal life was most recently in the headlines after a well-publicised, red wine-fuelled, late-night row with his current girlfriend, 31-year-old Carrie Symonds.

Despite the repeated private indiscretions and a questionable political record, the party faithful look set to elect him anyway.

“The man that they think or have decided can deliver Brexit is almost incapable of doing anything that is going to lose their support,” Ms Purnell said of the 160,000 Conservative party members.

Ninety seven per cent of them are white, and 70 per cent are men.

It is well known Mr Johnson has harboured leadership ambitions for most of his political career and far beyond.

“His sister told me his ambition as a small child was to be the world king, so it has always been there,” said Andrew Gimson, the author of Boris: The Rise of Boris Johnson.

“I think he is underestimated by those critics who are blinded by a hatred of him. Hatred and disgust.”

Mr Gimson acknowledged Mr Johnson’s Trump-like characteristics, but argued there are many more differences.

“Evidently, they are both suited to a sort of anti-establishment mood that there is in politics,” he said.

However, Mr Gimson points to Mr Johnson’s Eton and Oxford education, his knowledge of several languages and his love of books as what sets him apart from the US President.

“I think he is a much nicer man than Donald Trump and he doesn’t want to succeed by sowing divisions, which is basically Trump’s game,” he said.

Britain’s political dynasty

Mr Johnson’s family is wealthy and politically powerful.

His father, Stanley, once appeared on the reality show, I’m a Celebrity… Get Me Out of Here!

His journalist sister, Rebecca, went into the Celebrity Big Brother house last year.

As Rebecca Johnson recalled in 2017, even former prime minister David Cameron is shocked by the Johnson clan’s ubiquity.

“Dave C was introduced to my sister Julia a while back. ‘No! Not another one!!’ the then-PM gasped,” she wrote in New Statesmen.

“We’re like rats, basically. In London, you’re never more than a few feet from at least two Johnsons.”

Politics may be the Johnson family business, but they are not Trump-esque as such.

Like Britain itself, the Johnson siblings are deeply divided about the merits of Brexit.

For one, they are divided on their political views.

Stanley Johnson served in Brussels at the European Commission; he was opposed to Brexit but later switched sides.

One of his brothers, Jo Johnson, is also a Conservative Party member but is staunchly opposed to Brexit. Rebecca Johnson is also against the UK leaving the EU.

While Boris Johnson’s rise may now seem inevitable, holding on to power could be a challenge.

Mr Johnson has held the seat of Uxbridge in London’s West since 2015, but during a visit there by the ABC, there was a notable disdain for the local member.

“We did have a bus sign that said ‘Where is our MP?’ marked on it,” one resident said.

“I don’t think he is reliable. That’s the trouble, I’m not sure about his honesty.”

At the 2017 snap election called by outgoing PM Theresa May, Mr Johnson’s majority plummeted.

He is now in power by a wafer-thin margin of 5000 votes.

If he enters No.10, that will be the smallest margin of any sitting prime minister since the 1920s.

“I think he’d make a good comedian,” one elderly commuter on the bus in Uxbridge told the ABC.

“I don’t really know him, but I think he is a joke.”