The former foreign secretary told a Tory leadership debate on Monday that the last time he cried was when his cycle - nicknamed “Bikey” - was stolen from outside parliament.
And he used the anecdote to take a swipe at his successor as London mayor, claiming that the bicycle had been chained to railings across the capital without incident during his time in office, only to be stolen after Sadiq Khan entered City Hall.
“I had my bike for the whole of my mayoral career,” he said. “It was never nicked during all my time as mayor and I used to chain it up across the whole city. Barely had Sadiq Khan’s reign begun before it was nicked.”
Using the tale to bolster his call for 20,000 new police officers, he added: “Anyone who has something they love stolen feels a sense of outrage and injustice. That’s another reason we need more police on the streets.”
However, doubts were raised over the anecdote by a column written by the would-be Prime Minister in 2014, in which he said that Bikey had been written off after its frame snapped when he rode it into a pothole concealed by a puddle during a storm.
“Old Bikey had survived every prang and prangette that goes with urban commuting: shaving trucks, kissing buses, and lovingly locking wheels with a motorbike on the Embankment – an encounter from which, alas, the motorbike came off second best,” he wrote then.
“No one had seen fit to nick it in all those years – not even when I chained it and left it for several nights outside King’s Cross.
“Now it was dead, killed by – the weather. Yes, amigos, it was slain by the rain.”
Mr Johnson made clear in his article that the broken bike was the one he had ridden for the bulk of his mayoralty: “After eight years of uncomplaining service, the venerable steed had charged his last.”
“This was the bike that had taken me every day to distant parts of London, carried me into battle in two elections, heard my agony as I cursed up hills and listened in reassuring silence to my whispered rehearsals for the speech I would have to make when I arrived.”
At the time of his article, Mr Johnson had more than two years to run as mayor of London. So if the anecdote is to be believed, the cycle stolen during Mr Khan’s term cannot have been Bikey, but must have been a more recently acquired two-wheeler.
There was no immediate response from the Johnson camp to queries about the discrepancies between the two stories.
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