Brexit aftermath

Tina Brown paints portrait of Boris Johnson as “Gentleman Hack”

Former London Mayor Boris Johnson leaves his home by car on June 27, 2016 in London, England. Mr Johnson is thought to be the frontrunner to succeed Prime Minister David Cameron after he resigned following the European Union referendum result to leave. (Photo by Jack Taylor/Getty Images)

Women in the World founder Tina Brown first got to know Boris Johnson 30 years ago in a run-in that culminated in a startling case of underhandedness and blatant dishonesty. And in 2016, Brown writes in an Op-Ed for The Daily Beast, Johnson is just as treacherous as he was back in 1986. If not more so.

Johnson is now the leading contender to succeed David Cameron, who resigned on Friday as prime minister. But he’s not to be trusted, as Brown tells it. She recounts how she met him back in 1986, through his girlfriend at the time, who’d arranged for her to speak with some sources for a story that would appear in Vanity Fair magazine. The girlfriend, a journalist too, never showed up for the meeting, but one of the people she’d arranged for Brown to meet with was Johnson. Like he is now, Brown recalled, he was “a witty, shambolic figure with a shaggy blond mop.”

Days later, though, Brown was taken aback by a story that appeared in the Sunday Telegraph, under the girlfriend’s byline that attributed a number of quotes to Brown — quotes that she’d never uttered. It was later discovered that Johnson had authored the article and fabricated the quotes — a feat of brazenness that would cost his girlfriend her writing gig with the paper. And it augured a duplicitous nature that would define Johnson’s conduct throughout his country’s Brexit saga.

Back in the day, Brown came up with an apt label for Johnson. He was a “Gentleman Hack,” she declared, someone who is “hostile to facts and even more hostile to investigation — a football column that purports to know nothing about football.”

And if you think he was conniving and deceitful back in the eighties, well, wait till you learn what he’s been up to recently.

Read her full column at The Daily Beast.

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