Boris Johnson has the word philanderer running through him like a stick of rock.
Yet extramarital affairs which would sink many have done nothing to put off voters – nor the blue-rinse brigade and their crusty spouses in salmon trousers who make up Conservative members.
Eyelids were barely batted when Johnson became the first PM to move into No10 with a girlfriend – Tory PR guru Carrie Symonds, 33, who is 23 years his junior and mother to their baby son Wilfred.
Women were not put off by his deliberately shambolic schtick.
He still ruffles his hair before appearances. A biographer described him as “one of the great flatterers of our times.”
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Ex-lover Jennifer Arcuri said: “It does start with his eyes, and every one of his actions shows us exactly who he is. Let’s stop pretending this is somebody else hiding behind.”
But the desperate desire to be liked also makes him needy, especially around women.
Jennifer said: “This is who he is and it’s about time we recognised that. It breaks my heart because it’s not like I’m here to throw him under the bus.”
Johnson married Oxford University girlfriend Allegra Mostyn-Owen in 1987 when they were both 23.
She described their wedding day as “the end of the relationship, rather than the beginning”. Five years of marriage was enough for the art historian’s daughter and Tatler cover-girl likened to a “Botticelli angel”.
She agreed to a divorce in April 1993 and just 12 days later Johnson wed Marina Wheeler, already pregnant with their first child. But Allegra and Johnson stayed on good terms.
“He’s a better ex than husband,” she said. Five weeks after marrying Marina, Lara Lettice was born.
Three more children followed – Milo Arthur, Cassia Peaches and Theodore Apollo, all in their 20s.
Barrister Marina and Johnson met at the European School in Brussels in the 1970s when his father Stanley worked at the European Commission.
The marriage lasted a bumpy 25 years and at least four Boris affairs until they parted in 2018. Lara described her father as a “selfish b*****d”.
There was a four-year relationship with journalist Petronella Wyatt, 52, while he was her editor at Spectator magazine.
That ended when Johnson failed to fulfil his promise to leave Marina and marry her, according to Petronella’s mother, Lady Verushka Wyatt.
But at the same time he was seeing another journalist, Anna Fazackerley, according to reports which she neither confirmed nor denied.
Jennifer said: “The truth is, with men – this isn’t to excuse them – you have to know the beast.
“This is who he is. You’re never going to change him, you’re never going to make him want what you want just because you want it.”
It was his denial of the relationship with Petronella, or Petsy as she is known, which saw the first blip in Johnson’s 20-year political career.
Elected to Michael Heseltine’s former seat of Henley with an 8,500 majority in 2001, he did not get on with Tory leader Iain Duncan Smith.
But in 2003, under new leader Michael – now Lord – Howard, Boris became vice-chair of the party and in May 2004 was promoted to shadow arts minister.
Six months later the Tory leader asked Johnson to resign for telling newspapers claims of the Petsy affair were “piffle.” When Johnson refused Howard sacked him.
Petronella said Johnson was “a loner” who told her men should not be confined to one woman. She added: “Like many loners, he has a compensating need to be liked.”
And she said he would do anything to avoid an argument, which meant he would often end up lying to loved ones. It was not the first time Johnson got the boot for telling porkies.
At Oxford he co-edited satirical magazine Tributary, then used family connections to become a trainee on The Times.
It did not last long. Johnson was caught inventing a quote from his godfather, the historian Sir Colin Lucas, and editor Charlie Wilson fired him.
He was more successful as leader writer for the Daily Telegraph and, for five years from 1989, as Brussels correspondent where he earned a reputation for virulent Euroscepticism.
Tory grandee and EU enthusiast Lord Patten branded him “one of the greatest exponents of fake journalism”.
Telegraph editor Sir Max Hastings turned down Johnson’s request to be a war reporter and made him a political columnist instead.
It was during those five years as a columnist until 1999 that Johnson used the offensive language which has haunted him ever since.
Africans were “piccaninnies” with “watermelon smiles” and gay men “tank-topped bumboys”.
Two bids to become an MP failed before he won the Henley nomination. By then he was well-known following carefully choreographed buffoonery on Have I Got News for You.
Boris Johnson faces an inquiry by the Greater London Authority – responsible for the mayor’s office – over claims his failure to declare his relationship with Arcuri may have been a breach of the Nolan Principles of Public Life, which are contained in the Mayor of London’s code of conduct.
Arcuri was granted access to events at three top level trade missions, despite her businesses not meeting the criteria for the trips.
The Independent Office for Police Conduct said there was no evidence he’d committed the criminal offence of misconduct in public office but he may have breached the Nolan Principles.
Len Duvall, the chair of the GLA oversight committee which is conducting the investigation said: “Our investigation will consider whether Boris Johnson conducted himself in a way that’s expected from anyone in that position.
“It’s important we get those answers, because Londoners deserve to have their politicians held accountable.”
An affair with arts consultant Helen Macintyre, 47, produced his fifth child, a daughter, in 2009.
Attempts to keep his paternity a secret failed when a judge ruled the public had a right to know the “reckless” Mayor of London was the child’s father.
But it was only in 2018 that Marina’s threats to turf him out of their home turned into action. Daughter Lara was quoted as saying: “Mum is finished with him. She’ll never take him back.”
Johnson was still married to Marina when Jennifer says their affair began in 2012. She fell for him and says she was hurt like so many others. But she added: “I’m not a victim. I’m not losing sleep over this any more. But it says a lot about the character of the man.
“When people show you who they are, believe them. Sometimes, when you see through the lens of logic, it’s amazing what reveals itself.”
What Johnson did not reveal, of course, was the full nature of the relationship – and he is being probed by the Greater London Authority over a possible code of conduct breach.
- Read Jennifer Arcuri’s full story in the Sunday Mirror, in shops on Sunday.