Boris Johnson received something of a battering on the Andrew Marr show this weekend (you can watch the full interview here).
Eddie Mair, standing in for Marr who is recovering from a stroke, quizzed Johnson about the “sandpapering” of quotes as a Times journalist, failing to deny that he lied to the party leader at the time, Michael Howard, about an extramarital affair and conceding that he had humoured an old friend when he asked for a phone number of someone he intended to beat.
Johnson also said the UK economy benefited from the influx of “skilled workers around the world” but this led to a “real indignation” among UK workers.
The interview, which originally was supposed to promote the BBC documentary on Johnson that is on tonight, is rather painful to watch, but does say rather a lot about the man who is currently mayor of London.
I would rather have seen Johnson being taken to task for some of his failures as Mayor though, rather than problems that are already out in the open. He did admit there was a lack of planning ahead of the financing of the Olympic Stadium in Stratford but said the deal to allow West Ham United to play at the venue would help provide £10m a year to the taxpayer.
Johnson has also singularly failed to encourage housing development in London, leading to a growing housing shortage and massively increased rent. The figures, showing the situation towards the end of last year, may indicate that the long-predicted “displacement effect” of capping and cutting local housing allowance – the form of housing benefit paid to tenants housed by private landlords – has been occurring, with households being obliged to relocate from the heart of the capital to its cheaper suburbs.
The overall number of claimants in Greater London as a whole has gone up sharply in the period concerned, reflecting the very a high rate of rent increases in the capital compared with incomes.
I think Johnson may have got a taste of what putting himself forward to be leader of party might be like. Thus far he has managed to charm and bluff his way through, but some of the sheen definitely came off him yesterday