Jennifer Arcuri tells of ‘four-year affair’ with Boris Johnson and calls him ‘cowardly’

PM asked to borrow £3.10 on their first date, says businesswoman, and was unabashed about being seen together in London, telling her: ‘This is my city, I don’t care’

Joe Sommerlad@JoeSommerlad
Sunday 28 March 2021 15:38
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Related video: Jennifer Arcuri admits she feels 'betrayed' by Boris Johnson

American businesswoman Jennifer Arcuri has told of her four-year affair with British prime minister Boris Johnson between 2012 and 2016.

Ms Arcuri said the pair shared a “physical and intellectual attraction” after meeting while she was a student in 2011 and he the mayor of London and married to lawyer Marina Wheeler, with whom he has four children

“We were in an intimate relationship for four years,” she said in an exclusive interview with the Sunday Mirror. “I loved him, and with good cause. But the man I thought I knew doesn’t exist any more.”

She describes first meeting him at a tech event and remembers: “He’d turn the whole room into a bunch of howling schoolgirls. I made a beeline for the front of the line.”

Their paths crossed again in spring 2012 when she volunteered to work for his re-election campaign and they began texting, his number saved in her phone as “Alex the Great”, a nod to his given Christian name and much-trumpeted passion for antiquity.

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Busy with his campaign and preparations for the upcoming London Olympics and Paralympics, Mr Johnson could not pursue his interest in Ms Arcuri until they met for a “private drink” at the Tavistock Hotel in Bloomsbury in May 2012.

“He showed up late, dishevelled and chaotic. He was biking – he came in with his helmet. I thought, ‘That’s a great look for the start of this’,” she remembers.

“He went to the bar and came back within a minute and said, ‘Jennifer can I borrow £3.10?’ I thought, ‘I’m a student buying you a beer, you should be ashamed of yourself’.”

After a second dinner date at Ciao Bella on Lamb’s Conduit Street, Mr Johnson reportedly told her: “I want to date you, you’re the only American I’ve ever fancied.”

He also allegedly tried to kiss her in the street, which she laughed off, suggesting he was being incautious.

“This is my city, I don’t care,” he is said to have answered, before biking off “in a huff”.

As the affair progressed, Ms Arucri says they bonded over a love of William Shakespeare’s sonnets and that she sent him intimate photographs, one of which he allegedly described as “enough to make a bishop kick through a stained-glass window,” the phrase apparently lifted from the legendary crime writer Raymond Chandler.

But, by 2016, she was involved with tech analyst Matthew Hickey and the affair had cooled.

Speaking of her upset at Mr Johnson’s refusal to defend her when questions were raised about her presence on three high-level trade trips and receipt of £126,000 of taxpayer money in event sponsorships and grants, she comments: “It’s embarrassing. What a child. You can’t get on the phone and say, ‘Look Jen, this is crazy, welcome to politics’?

"He just took the most cowardly, wet noodle of approaches. This is who he is and it’s about time we recognised that.

“A great leader is charismatic, courageous and brave. None of these words I would use to describe Boris Johnson.”

The Greater London Authority is currently investigating whether Mr Johnson breached the Nolan Principles of Public Life, the code of conduct by which the city mayor is expected to abide, by not confessing his affair with Ms Arcuri.

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