Boris Johnson launches foul-mouthed tirade at Ken Livingstone

 

Boris Johnson, the good time politician with the amiable air of a man who never cracks under pressure, completely lost it today.

After months of stressful campaigning in the run up to May’s London mayoral election, he finally let his rival, Ken Livingstone get under his skin.

In a crowded lift, in front of three witnesses, the Mayor met the ex-Mayor in a nose to nose confrontation, and called him a “fucking liar” three times over. He was, reputedly, red with rage.

The explosion occurred after the four main candidates in the mayoral contest had taken part in a hustings hosted by the LBC radio station. It was witnessed by the Liberal Democrat candidate, Brian Paddick, the Green, Jenny Jones, and an LBC executive.

After the programme, the five of them got into a second floor lift to make a 30 second journey for a photocall on the roof. They emerged in front of cameras as if nothing had happened. News of the Boris tantrum leaked out soon afterwards.

London’s Mayor is one of the sharpest performers in the politics, who has got the better of hard nosed interviewers like Jeremy Paxman and kept cool while being taunted by the professional comics on Have I Got News For You. Today’s outburst prompted the question whether he feels the London mayoralty slipping away to his older opponent – because defeat in May would be a shattering setback for one of the most ambitious men in modern politics.

He was possibly provoked by the Twitter poll that LBC was running while the four candidates were on air. Half way through, it was showing Johnson and Livingstone in front on 25 per cent each, but at the end of the hour, Livingstone and Paddick were level on 24 per cent while Johnson was trailing on 16. The poll is unscientific and self-selecting, but it allowed Livingstone’s people to claim that Johnson had lost his rag because he had lost the debate.

Also, it should be said in Johnson’s defence that very few politicians who can match Livingstone’s special talent for driving others to fury, partly through the manner in which he makes outrageous accusations in that nasal London twang.

Johnson’s people say that what actually made him angry was being accused of something that was simply untrue. The single most damaging setback for Ken Livingstone in the campaign has been the revelation that for years his substantial media earnings were paid into private companies, attracting corporation tax at 20 per cent rather than the higher rates of income tax.

Faced with a constant drip of bad publicity, and having been challenged again today about his tax arrangements, Livingstone went on the  attack and accused Johnson of channelling his money through a firm called Finland Station.

That clearly annoyed Johnson, who asserted: "I have never used a company to minimise my tax. There was a TV production company which I was briefly a director of but I have always paid full income tax."

Boris Johnson is very highly paid. There is his £145,000 salary plus £250,000 for the column he writes for the Daily Telegraph. If he pays income tax on the lot, the sum he hands over to Inland Revenue must be enormous and painful to part with. To be accused of cheating the tax man on top of that must was evidently too much, even for one of the coolest men in politics.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
News
The two faces revealed by the ultraviolet light
newsScholars left shaken after shining ultraviolet light on 500-year-old Welsh manuscript
News
Rosamund Pike played Bond girld Miranda Frost, who died in Die Another Day (PA)
news
Arts and Entertainment
books
News
newsHow do you get your party leader to embrace a message and then stick to it? With people like this
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
  • Get to the point
2015 General Election
May2015

Poll of Polls

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: In House Counsel - Contracts

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This leading supplier of compliance software a...

Recruitment Genius: Associate System Engineer

£24000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The Associate System Engineer r...

Recruitment Genius: Executive Assistant

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: An Executive Assistant is required to join a l...

Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager - B2B, Corporate - City, London

£45000 - £50000 per annum + benefits : Ashdown Group: A highly successful, glo...

Day In a Page

General Election 2015: The masterminds behind the scenes

The masterminds behind the election

How do you get your party leader to embrace a message and then stick to it? By employing these people
Machine Gun America: The amusement park where teenagers go to shoot a huge range of automatic weapons

Machine Gun America

The amusement park where teenagers go to shoot a huge range of automatic weapons
The ethics of pet food: Why are we are so selective in how we show animals our love?

The ethics of pet food

Why are we are so selective in how we show animals our love?
How Tansy Davies turned 9/11 into her opera 'Between Worlds'

How a composer turned 9/11 into her opera 'Between Worlds'

Tansy Davies makes her operatic debut with a work about the attack on the Twin Towers. Despite the topic, she says it is a life-affirming piece
11 best bedside tables

11 best bedside tables

It could be the first thing you see in the morning, so make it work for you. We find night stands, tables and cabinets to wake up to
Italy vs England player ratings: Did Andros Townsend's goal see him beat Harry Kane and Wayne Rooney to top marks?

Italy vs England player ratings

Did Townsend's goal see him beat Kane and Rooney to top marks?
Danny Higginbotham: An underdog's tale of making the most of it

An underdog's tale of making the most of it

Danny Higginbotham on being let go by Manchester United, annoying Gordon Strachan, utilising his talents to the full at Stoke and plunging into the world of analysis
Audley Harrison's abusers forget the debt he's due, but Errol Christie will always remember what he owes the police

Steve Bunce: Inside Boxing

Audley Harrison's abusers forget the debt he's due, but Errol Christie will always remember what he owes the police
No postcode? No vote

Floating voters

How living on a houseboat meant I didn't officially 'exist'
Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin

By Reason of Insanity

Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin
Power dressing is back – but no shoulderpads!

Power dressing is back

But banish all thoughts of Eighties shoulderpads
Spanish stone-age cave paintings 'under threat' after being re-opened to the public

Spanish stone-age cave paintings in Altamira 'under threat'

Caves were re-opened to the public
'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'

Vince Cable interview

'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'
Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

Promises, promises

But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

The death of a Gaza fisherman

He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat