For all his apparent friendliness, Johnson is rarely a friend. In fact, although many might describe themselves as a pal, they are usually mistaken. As a critic once observed, as with Lord Palmerston, Johnson "does not have friends, merely interests". Indeed, when questioned, these self-professed "friends" often admit that they have seen the mayor socially perhaps only a couple of times in the past few years. Those who are no longer "useful" have not seen him at all.
Nor does he show loyalty to those who have helped him most but are no longer in a position to do more. Those who went out of their way to propel him to stardom, such as Conrad Black, the former newspaper proprietor, and Johnson's former editor and mentor Max Hastings, have received scant return. When Black was facing criminal charges in the US, Johnson ran an attack on his patron's "murky business origins" and "clumsy provincialism".
Johnson has also accused Hastings in print of "rank cowardice" for not following him on to Have I Got News for You and has failed to pay up on a lost bet over the result of the 2010 general election. Hastings, who has known him for nearly 30 years, still has affection for his former protege but has also sounded warnings about his unsuitability to become PM, not least because of his "startling flashes of instability".
To those who have worked closely with Johnson, his outbursts of temper are notorious; even his sister, Rachel, describes his approach to those who dare to criticise him as "Sicilian". Female members of the London Assembly have lodged a formal complaint about his offensive conduct.
5 August 2012 – Sonia Purnell, Johnson’s biographer and his former deputy in the Daily Telegraph’s Brussels bureau