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WORLD | 23-07-2019 14:19

Five things you may not know about Boris Johnson, the UK's next PM

The UK is certainly about to have a one-of-a-kind leader

Here are five things you may not know about Boris Johnson, who is set to become Britain's next prime minister on Wednesday:

HE HASN'T ALWAYS BEEN SO CONFIDENT

While Johnson is known for his booming voice, boisterous behaviour and creative use of language (including Latin and Greek), he was much more subdued as a child. In fact, until the age of eight, Johnson was severely deaf because of glue ear, a condition where the ear canal fills with fluid that can cause temporary hearing loss. Although he now jokes that he exaggerated his condition as a youngster to avoid boring conversations, he did have to wear a grommet, a small tube surgically implanted in the eardrum to drain liquid.

HE'S NOT LIKELY TO EVER TEACH JOURNALISTIC ETHICS

Johnson started his career as a reporter, not a politician, earning more from his writing than from his public service positions. He quickly made a name for himself and quickly got into trouble — being fired from The Times of London for making up a quote to embellish a story. The ethical breakdown slowed his career rise, but he was got back on track and earned a national profile as a caustic, amusing anti-Europe crusading journalist.

Still, he made a few enemies along the way, once offending the entire populace of a major city (that would be Liverpool). He had to apologise in 2004, while serving as both Conservative Party legislator and editor of The Spectator, for accusing Liverpudlians in an unsigned editorial of wallowing in "victim status" after the Hillsborough soccer stadium disaster that claimed 96 lives in 1989.

HE HAS A HISTORY OF SPORTING ACCIDENTS

Johnson is a firm advocate of the health benefits of exercise and is often seen jogging and biking around London. But his true passion is rugby, that very English contact sport where players try to score points by carrying an oval ball over the opponents' goal line. Yet Johnson is known for letting his competitive spirit get the better of him. During his stint as foreign secretary, Johnson inadvertently knocked a 10-year-old boy to the floor in a rugby match during a diplomatic trip to Japan.

That was not the first time he got a little carried away on a sports field. Johnson became a public favourite in 2006 during a re-creation of the 1966 football match when England won its only FIFA World Cup title by beating Germany. When it turned out that the Germans weren't following the script and started to win, Boris jumped to the rescue, literally, by launching himself at German player Maurizio Gaudino. Sadly for England, Johnson's moves failed to save the day.

HIS HAIR IS NOT AT ALL LIKE DONALD TRUMP'S

It's true that the US president and Britain's next prime minister both have very prominent blond hair but there the similarity ends. US President Donald Trump's hair is very carefully styled before he appears in public, while Johnson's precisely the opposite. From the start of his political career Johnson has sported what could only be called the "slept-on" look, declining to style his locks in any way so they have a natural, spontaneous, even unpredictable quality. It's not a US$300 Hollywood concoction by a celebrity stylist, it's an accident-in-progress. The forward plunge of his hair takes something from the "mop top" look of the early Beatles, but the Beatles' locks were always carefully combed.

HE HAS A VERY UNUSUAL WAY OF RELAXING

After a long day on the political stage, you won't find Johnson unwinding in front of the latest reality TV show. Instead, he chooses to make models of buses to relax. He rustles up his creations using old wine boxes, choosing to paint smiling passengers instead of grumpy Londoners. His passion for miniature vehicles is likely linked to nostalgia for his "Boris bus" scheme, when as London mayor, he introduced the double-decker hybrid diesel-electric Routemaster buses that have been since scrapped by his successor.

– AP

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