Boris Johnson: the nation’s love-in continues along with the Mayor’s linguistic virtuosity

Smurfette added: “Why is Boris Johnson not a full time comedian yet?” And Mia said: “Boris will you marry me? pls bby x”

Mr Johnson was reelected Mayor by only a narrow margin over Labour rival Ken Livingstone in May.

But his popularity soared during the Olympics, particularly after he challenged Mitt Romney, the Republican candidate for the United States presidency, who had questioned Londoners’ enthusiasm for the Games.

David Cameron has been forced to deny that he finds Mr Johnson an irritant, brushing off a spate of opinion polls suggesting that the Mayor would be a far more popular choice than him to be Prime Minister.

But the Telegraph columnist continues to be a thorn in Mr Cameron’s side.

In his latest unhelpful pronouncement, he claimed that the Prime Minister, who was at the exclusive Eton College at the same time as him, had deliberately fluffed a question about the Magna Carta on the David Letterman show to avoid appearing elitist.

Classics scholar Mr Johnson said: ''I think he was only pretending. I think he knew full well what Magna Carta means.

''It was a brilliant move in order to show his demotic credentials and that he didn't have Latin bursting out of every orifice.''

Chinese journalist ‘plagiarised Boris Johnson’s Daily Telegraph column’

"[But] instead of saying, 'Look, I'm feeling overwhelmed, can you give me some pointers?', she just started making things up, ripping off other papers."

The Olympic fabrication appears to have started on July 27, hours before Danny Boyle's spectacular opening ceremony in London.

Editors noticed that several paragraphs of one story appeared to have been lifted verbatim from a piece written by the Guardian's Beijing correspondent.

"The standard of English suddenly read like a native speaker," the newsroom source said.

But Ms Zhao continued to send dispatches from London and apparently turned her sights to The Daily Telegraph's comment pages where Mr Johnson had published a piece titled: "Here's 20 jolly good reasons to feel cheerful about the Games."

"There are semi-naked women in Horse Guards," began Mr Johnson's article.

That line was omitted from the Global Times "exclusive" but Mr Johnson was quoted as having told the newspaper: "The Tube has performed pretty well so far, buses are running more or less to time and people are hospitable."

Almost identical lines appeared in Mr Johnson's Telegraph column.

The offending Global Times story – which also referred to London's "famed Victor Park" – was removed from the newspaper's site on Wednesday evening.

The Global Times source said Ms Zhao had in fact met Mr Johnson but, unusually, had failed to get him to talk.

"She went to some event with Boris where there were 20-30 Chinese journalists. He did his speech and she exchanged a couple of sentences with him after but didn't actually get any quotes and [so she] stole them from the Telegraph article," said the source.

"There were questions raised within the office. 'Did you really get this quote?'" the source added. "Her words were Google-ed and they came up with the Telegraph article."

The Beijing Cream blog reported that doubts continued to grow about the veracity of Ms Zhao's reporting after she quoted an "Indian undergraduate" called Jaime Gornsztejn and a "supermarket employee" named David Beard.

But Ms Zhao's cover was finally blown after editors in Beijing received a story on "Olympic pin collecting", that had been "almost entirely" copied from London's Evening Standard.

"She got told not to do any more stories," the source said.

"When she flew back she was up before a disciplinary committee that decided to fire her. Everybody was pretty shocked because it was a big opportunity for her."

Mr Johnson himself is no stranger to making up quotes. After graduating in 1987, he became a trainee reporter with The Times newspaper, but was sacked within a year for falsifying a quotation from his godfather Sir Colin Lucas. He later described the incident as his “biggest cock-up”.

Nick Clegg brushes off ‘Cleggster’ praise from Boris Johnson

"It is time for us Clegg fans to echo those kindly folk who are trying to save the sweet furry badgers from the wrath of farmers," the mayor wrote.

"Never mind the badgers - save the Cleggster from extermination!"

Mr Johnson went on: "His wife, Miriam Gonzalez Durantez, is every bit as lovely and clever and funny as she appears.

"I have always thought that if you leave out Europe, he is probably a natural Tory.

"He is certainly tough, and can take a joke."

Mr Clegg was asked about the article on a visit to an engineering firm during the Lib Dem conference in Brighton.

"I actually haven't read it but I have heard about it," he replied.

"Boris is the nation's greatest celebrity politician and he is much held aloft by the people of London. He is an extremely amusing writer but I don't think I will be taking my guide from Boris about my own future.

"But I will read the article when I have some time to do so later in the afternoon."

Never mind all those badgers – we’ve got to save the Cleggster

2. And it is thanks to the Lib Dems that George Osborne is able to get on with the essential tasks of reform of the economy and deficit reduction. Clegg and co have been lightning conductors for the occasional jagged flashes of public anger that would otherwise have gone straight down the Downing Street chimney. It is a classic British story of self-sacrifice, in the mould of Captain Oates.

3. Without Clegg to take the abuse of Left-wing educationalists, it is doubtful that Michael Gove would be bashing on so fast, and so effectively, with his programme for free schools.

4. Without Clegg and the Lib Dems – who are in the front line of fire from their former friends in the welfare lobby groups – it seems most unlikely that Iain Duncan Smith would be able to get on with his programme of benefits reform. The Tories have gone one better than the Persian emperor, in the sense that the Lib Dem leader is not so much a wall hanging as a human shield.

5. And yet Clegg can say with truth that he has put the party of Lloyd George in power for the first time in almost a century.

6. And he has used that power to deliver some sensible things – like taking the poor out of tax, a long-standing objective of the Lib Dems that ought to have been Tory policy for ages.

7. And he is, when you meet him, a very nice chap indeed.

8. His wife, Miriam González Durántez, is every bit as lovely and clever and funny as she appears.

9. He reads novels, and has all sorts of literary friends.

10. He is very good at tennis, though for some reason he always seems to lose to the Prime Minister, in what his critics might see as a metaphor for the imbalance in their relationship.

11. He speaks several languages – a mark of civilisation, in my view – including Dutch, whose accent is so notoriously hard to get right that the former Dutch prime minister Josef Luns once declared that the effort of correct pronunciation made him feel “as if he was vomiting” (his political career came to an end shortly thereafter).

12. But his Europhilia has been kept in check. As long as he is DPM, he cannot be sent to be commissioner in Brussels – a stitch-up that would cause many of us to think of joining Ukip.

13. And while he has been in office, he has effectively demolished some of the worst and most opportunistic policies on which the Lib Dems used to campaign. Take tuition fees, which they always used to promise to scrap. It is thanks to his bravery and his much mocked U-turn that British universities are now on a sound financial footing.

14. It is thanks to the utterly hopeless Lib Dem campaign for Lords reform that we have been saved from an elected second chamber, with all the attendant jobbery and feuding.

15. And thanks to the useless campaign for AV that we have kept first-past-the-post in our elections, and been spared all sorts of other jobbery and feuding.

16. Every time he half-heartedly proposes some new wealth tax, he reminds us that he doesn’t have a hope of delivering it, and he underscores the point that the Tories remain better on tax than the rest.

17. And yet he talks sense on many things. He is against a third runway at Heathrow, but sees the case for borrowing cheap to spend on infrastructure.

18. In fact, I have always thought that if you leave out Europe, he is probably a natural Tory.

19. He is certainly tough, and can take a joke.

20. And above all, amigos, it is thanks to Nick Clegg that we are not currently in coalition with Chris Huhne! Yes, before Huhne’s wife allegedly showed the world how good he was at getting his points across, it was Huhne who was seen as the man to watch. Think of that, and thank heavens for Nick Clegg.

I say again, save the Cleggster from extermination!

Boris Johnson calls for Londoners to ‘mobilise’ against third runway at Heathrow

Asked if he backed the poll, Mr Johnson said: "If Richmond is going to hold a referendum on this issue, then I would totally support it and I would vote No. It is the wrong way for London.

"We have had elections on this. These issues have been well discussed in all our campaigns. Nobody wants to close Heathrow. But you cannot keep expanding it.

"There is no point in building a new short runway which wouldn’t really do the job because it is only a prelude to further expansion."

Mr Johnson has announced his own inquiry into the future of aviation in the capital, which will report back before the Government-backed commission on the same issue, headed by Sir Howard Davies, former head of the Financial Services Authority. He supports the creation of a new airport, on the Thames Estuary.

The Mayor told the London Assembly: "I will be mobilising and alerting Londoners to the risks of the third runway and what we need to do is to bring the alternative solutions forcibly before public.

"At the moment there is an imbalance, because the third runway at Heathrow is the scheme that has been costed, that has been engineered, that has been evaluated, all the designs are there.

"None of the other options have been properly set out. I think it would be right for the Government to introduce some parity into the argument and make sure that the alternative solutions, that we all know exists, are properly canvassed by the Davis Commission."

Ministers have ruled out the expansion of Heathrow before the next general election, due in 2015, but have refused to make the same commitment for future parliaments.

The Davis Commission is due to report back in late 2015, raising suspicions that it will mandate a third runway.

British businesses are taking an unfair whacking from America

Yes, folks, I mean BP the oil giant; the same BP that in April 2010 was jointly responsible for the Deepwater Horizon disaster, in which 11 people died and which resulted in a four-month submarine geyser of oil — a hideous splurge of hydrocarbons that polluted hundreds of miles of the Louisiana coast. Tourism was blitzed. Oysters, shrimps, crabs, turtles, dolphins, seals — an entire beautiful ecosystem was tainted with that oily slick.

That is a colossal sum, and it could affect the very viability of the company; and you should not imagine that such a fine would be cost-free for the UK as a whole. A lot of our pension funds have traditionally invested in BP shares, and if BP shares go down then that is bad news for UK pensioners and a tremendous thwack on the mazzard for UK plc. According to the oil company, such a fine would be wildly disproportionate to the damage inflicted. The BP honchos claim that things are much better on the coast of Louisiana, that sea water and microbes have done a good job in breaking down the oil (which is, after all, a naturally occurring substance), and that tourism and other trades are recovering.

That may or may not be true — it’s what you would expect them to say, after all; and there are plenty of environmentalists who say the opposite, and that the impacts are even worse and more persistent than predicted. The trouble is that there is no independent and impartial way of settling the matter. We have a wildly unpopular British company in the grip of the American authorities; and in the British business world there is an increasing feeling of injustice.

There are several reasons why the Brits feel bruised. The first is that if a British firm falls foul of the American system, the suffering never seems to end: there are state agencies, state governments, federal agencies and federal courts that can all step forward to give them a kicking and a mulcting. Imagine if the Mayor of London could fine foreign banks for bad behaviour. The idea has some attractions, on the face of it — think of all the cash we could put into infrastructure, or fighting illiteracy. Alas, it is only too easy to imagine how a populist and irresponsible Left-wing Mayor could whack — say — Goldman Sachs with some colossal penalty, regardless of the damage to London as a place to do business.

That is more or less what is happening in America, where elected officials are using the moment to burnish their CVs by bashing corporations — and especially British corporations. British business folk believe it is no coincidence that the BP fine is being proposed now, as Mr Obama comes up for re-election; and they remember how he stressed that the guilty company was “BRITISH Petroleum,” when in reality it has not been so called for many years.

There are some who think that BP is paying the price, in America, for having had the temerity to buy Amoco in 1998. There are some who think that British companies are generally seen as fair game. “They go for us in a way that they never seem to go for the Chinese,” one business leader believes. And then there is the scale of the fines: hundreds of millions for Standard Chartered, for doing deals with Iran; £3 billion for GlaxoSmithKline, for falling foul of the US Food and Drug Administration; and now the whopping fine for BP.

And yet when American firms are found guilty of some kind of corporate malfeasance — one thinks of Google’s shameless use of private data, storing details and cookies when they had promised users to protect them — the UK penalties are comparatively footling. None of this is to deny the essential culpability of these British corporations. BP got it utterly and tragically wrong (though so, to be fair, did the contractors Transocean and Halliburton). The company should certainly pay a price: the question is how much, and who sets it, and why, and whether there is any real fairness and balance and reciprocity involved. And the answers to all those questions are as lost in the murk as an innocent creature in a subaquatic geyser of oil.

Boris Johnson apologises for Hillsborough comments

Boris Johnson has added his voice to the chorus of apologies made to the families of Hillsborough victims and those who survived the disaster.

The Mayor of London was editor of the Spectator in 2004, when it ran an article claiming that the people of Liverpool failed to acknowledge the now-discredited suggestion that drunken fans had contributed to the disaster.

Speaking in central London, Mr Johnson welcomed Wednesday's report by an independent panel, which cleared fans of any wrongdoing: "I was very, very sorry in 2004 that the Spectator did carry an editorial that partially repeated those allegations, I apologised then and I apologise now."

"I do hope the families of the 96 victims will take some comfort from this report and that they can reach some sort of closure."

Boris Johnson as leader would give Tories a six point bounce , says new poll

Some Tory MPs are also looking at Mr Johnson as a potential party leader.

Mr Johnson’s public profile has been enhanced by the London Olympics, and on Monday he upstaged Mr Cameron with a crowd-pleasing speech at a parade of Olympic athletes.

Mr Johnson has also openly criticised Mr Cameron recently over a potential U-turn on Heathrow airport expansion.

He has, however, flatly denied accusations of manoeuvring to win the leadership.

A “radical” new Conservative group was forced to deny it was not trying to undermine Mr Cameron or promote Mr Johnson’s leadership prospects, one of its founders has said.

Conservative Voice was founded yesterday with the backing of senior Tory Right-wingers including David Davis and Dr Liam Fox.

The creation of the group, which wants more focus on issues such as tax cuts, Europe and social mobility, coincides with whispering among Conservative backbenchers about the Prime Minister’s leadership.

Both Mr Davis and Dr Fox are also previous Conservative leadership candidates, defeated by Mr Cameron in 2005.

But Don Porter, the founder of Conservative Voice, insisted that the group was not a threat to Mr Cameron’s authority or a vehicle for leadership challengers.

Mr Johnson, a Daily Telegraph columnist, would need to become an MP again before he becomes leader.

Boris Johnson as Tory leader ‘would boost party’, says new poll

Some Tory MPs are also looking at Mr Johnson as a potential party leader.

Mr Johnson’s public profile has been enhanced by the London Olympics, and on Monday he upstaged Mr Cameron with a crowd-pleasing speech at a parade of Olympic athletes.

Mr Johnson has also openly criticised Mr Cameron recently over a potential U-turn on Heathrow airport expansion.

He has, however, flatly denied accusations of manoeuvring to win the leadership.

A “radical” new Conservative group was forced to deny it was not trying to undermine Mr Cameron or promote Mr Johnson’s leadership prospects, one of its founders has said.

Conservative Voice was founded yesterday with the backing of senior Tory Right-wingers including David Davis and Dr Liam Fox.

The creation of the group, which wants more focus on issues such as tax cuts, Europe and social mobility, coincides with whispering among Conservative backbenchers about the Prime Minister’s leadership.

Both Mr Davis and Dr Fox are also previous Conservative leadership candidates, defeated by Mr Cameron in 2005.

But Don Porter, the founder of Conservative Voice, insisted that the group was not a threat to Mr Cameron’s authority or a vehicle for leadership challengers.

Mr Johnson, a Daily Telegraph columnist, would need to become an MP again before he becomes leader.