David Cameron pretended not to know what Magna Carta meant, says Boris Johnson

 

Boris Johnson today accused David Cameron of pretending not to know what Magna Carta means so he did not appear too clever.

But in a blow to his own carefully crafted man-of-the-people image, the London Mayor did not know who scored a hat-trick for England in the 1966 World Cup final.

Mr Johnson's claim the Tory leader feigned ignorance exposes the growing rift between the Prime Minister and the outspoken London Mayor, seen as his main rival to lead the Conservatives.

Mr Cameron was widely mocked for his appearance on American television's The Late Show with David Letterman earlier this week after the US host quizzed him on British history.

The grilling included being asked what Magna Carta meant and who composed Rule Britannia.

The Prime Minister fluffed both questions, but his fellow Old Etonian and Oxford University contemporary Mr Johnson today claimed Mr Cameron really knew Magna Carta meant Great Charter and faked the apparent knowledge gap to appear more down-to-earth.

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."

Quizzed on more modern British history during an appearance on LBC 97.3 radio, Mr Johnson failed to correctly identify Geoff Hurst as the scorer of a hat-trick in the 1966 World Cup final victory over West Germany, the only time England have ever been world champions.

Mr Johnson claimed defender Bobby Moore netted three. In fact, Moore was the captain who held aloft the Jules Rimet trophy at Wembley.

Perhaps realising the revelation could damage his dreams of claiming the keys to No 10 Downing Street, the 48-year-old mayor protested: "I was only two!"

In a wide-ranging interview and phone-in with presenter Nick Ferrari, Mr Johnson faced the anger of London taxi drivers frustrated by transport arrangements during the Olympics.

He apologised to businesses whose trade was hit by the summer spectacle, but denied claims the capital became a "ghost town".

Mr Johnson said: "I'm not going to pretend it was a bonanza for everybody and for those that feel hard done by, I'm sorry for the losses or low takings they had.

"But the overall economic benefit to London of people around the world seeing a city that can deliver an amazing event like that so successfully was incredibly positive."

The mayor admitted trade was "patchy", but claimed the Games were "overwhelmingly for the benefit of the city".

He added: "If you look at the spend by tourists in the city, it was up overall.

"The economic impact of the Games is estimated to be massively positive."

PA

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
  • 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: Junior Web Designer - Client Liaison

£6 per hour: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity to join a gro...

Recruitment Genius: Service Delivery Manager

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A Service Delivery Manager is required to join...

Recruitment Genius: Massage Therapist / Sports Therapist

£12000 - £24000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A opportunity has arisen for a ...

Ashdown Group: Practice Accountant - Bournemouth - £38,000

£32000 - £38000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A successful accountancy practice in...

Day In a Page

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
Saudi Arabia's airstrikes in Yemen are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Saudi airstrikes are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Arab intervention in Yemen risks entrenching Sunni-Shia divide and handing a victory to Isis, says Patrick Cockburn
Zayn Malik's departure from One Direction shows the perils of fame in the age of social media

The only direction Zayn could go

We wince at the anguish of One Direction's fans, but Malik's departure shows the perils of fame in the age of social media
Young Magician of the Year 2015: Meet the schoolgirl from Newcastle who has her heart set on being the competition's first female winner

Spells like teen spirit

A 16-year-old from Newcastle has set her heart on being the first female to win Young Magician of the Year. Jonathan Owen meets her
Jonathan Anderson: If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

British designer Jonathan Anderson is putting his stamp on venerable house Loewe
Number plates scheme could provide a licence to offend in the land of the free

Licence to offend in the land of the free

Cash-strapped states have hit on a way of making money out of drivers that may be in collision with the First Amendment, says Rupert Cornwell
From farm to fork: Meet the Cornish fishermen, vegetable-growers and butchers causing a stir in London's top restaurants

From farm to fork in Cornwall

One man is bringing together Cornwall's most accomplished growers, fishermen and butchers with London's best chefs to put the finest, freshest produce on the plates of some of the country’s best restaurants
Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

We exaggerate regional traits and turn them into jokes - and those on the receiving end are in on it too, DJ Taylor
How to make your own Easter egg: Willie Harcourt-Cooze shares his chocolate recipes

How to make your own Easter egg

Willie Harcourt-Cooze talks about his love affair with 'cacao' - and creates an Easter egg especially for The Independent on Sunday
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef declares barbecue season open with his twist on a tradtional Easter Sunday lamb lunch

Bill Granger's twist on Easter Sunday lunch

Next weekend, our chef plans to return to his Aussie roots by firing up the barbecue
Joe Marler: 'It's the way I think the game should be played'

Joe Marler: 'It's the way I think the game should be played'

The England prop relives the highs and lows of last Saturday's remarkable afternoon of Six Nations rugby
Cricket World Cup 2015: Has the success of the tournament spelt the end for Test matches?

Cricket World Cup 2015

Has the success of the tournament spelt the end for Test matches?
The Last Word: Justin Gatlin knows the price of everything, the value of nothing

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Justin Gatlin knows the price of everything, the value of nothing