Boris Johnson lost his temper with a woman he had an affair with, telling her in a recorded message “Jesus f------ a---hole” when she complained he had refused to meet her.
Mr Johnson had tried to help the woman to be given a job at City Hall when he was mayor of London. The appointment was blocked by one of Mr Johnson’s deputies because their relationship seemed to be inappropriately close.
But almost a decade later, the woman confronted Mr Johnson at a meeting in his office when he was foreign secretary to complain he had abused his power in starting the affair.
The woman secretly recorded the conversation in parliament on Nov 7 2017 and yesterday its contents were made public through the Sunday Times.
EXCLUSIVE: Boris Johnson lobbied for a public role for a young woman who says he abused his power to have a sexual relationship with her
The PM was confronted at the height of the #MeToo movement in 2017, when she told him she was still “shaken and upset”https://t.co/FZtujTL2D1 pic.twitter.com/h85BlqHRNw
— Gabriel Pogrund (@Gabriel_Pogrund) July 9, 2022
Friends of Mr Johnson said the Prime Minister was still being hounded to make sure he leaves Downing Street early and to prevent any possible return in the future. One friend likened Mr Johnson’s plight to that of Donald Trump in the US as opponents frantically manoeuvred to prevent his return as president.
One senior Conservative MP said the emergence of the tape was further evidence Mr Johnson needed to go earlier. Andrew Bridgen, a leading critic, said: “It is now open season on Boris. I suspect these scandals will now come thick and fast.
"These stories are only newsworthy while he remains in office. The sooner Boris is gone the sooner the country and the party will move forward.”
In the recordings released yesterday. Mr Johnson at one point reacts furiously and begins shouting at her when she complains he had been reluctant to meet her.
Losing control, Mr Johnson screams: “I've been incredibly f------ busy! I tried to meet you the other day! Jesus f------ a---hole. I wanted to meet you!”
'A liaison in a parliamentary office'
Mr Johnson was mayor of London and MP for Henley when he embarked on a brief relationship with the woman. He was 43 at the time and married with four children while the woman was a graduate in her 20s and had become involved in Conservative Party politics.
At the height of the #MeToo movement she decided to get back in touch with Mr Johnson, by now the foreign secretary, to complain at her treatment.
She texted Mr Johnson requesting that they talk. According to the Sunday Times she then told Mr Johnson she did not feel comfortable with the short relationship they had had in 2008.
The woman, now a legal professional and married mother-of-two, held on to the recording for more than four years before contacting the Sunday Times in April and then finally agreeing to go ahead with her version of events last week after deciding there was a public interest in knowing what had happened.
During their meeting she told Mr Johnson she was "really shaken and upset" about what had happened between them, according to the Sunday Times. She told Mr Johnson it was an example of how a young woman who "steps into this building is fair game" and there to be "leered at" by powerful men.
She said she regretted that their relationship had become sexual. The pair had had a ‘liaison’ in his parliamentary office in 2008 and that Mr Johnson had invited her for a drink. On the recording Mr Johnson confirms her recollection of the events.
The woman then said: "I wanted to get into politics, you said you'd get me a job in City Hall do you remember I went for an interview with Kit Malthouse?" Mr Malthouse, promoted last week to chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster in Mr Johnson’s hastily convened new Cabinet, was London’s deputy mayor in charge of policing at the time.
Mr Johnson told her: "Can I just say something? I did suggest you for a role and I was very disappointed when you didn't get that role. I remember it."
He continued: "I suggested you for the job and I was very keen for Kit to interview you and I remember Kit interviewed you. I asked him about it afterwards, repeatedly, why he hadn't given you the job and I was very disappointed he hadn't. I remember. And I'm afraid one of the reasons he gave was that he thought you were too friendly with me."
'You can't just machine friends into jobs'
Mr Johnson also insisted he had not done anything "abnormal", telling her: "I think genuinely you would have felt it was an abuse of power and an abuse of friendship. You can't just machine friends into jobs. You can't. Not in City Hall."
Mr Johnson has in recent weeks been accused of trying to secure a job for his then mistress Carrie Symonds (now his third wife) as his chief of staff at the Foreign Office in 2018. While mayor in 2011, he helped another lover, Jennifer Arcuri, to secure access to taxpayer-funded trips in 2011.
According to the Sunday Times, Mr Johnson's relationship with the woman in 2008 “rapidly petered out”. The newspaper said she spent “years dwelling on what had happened” and was emboldened to confront Mr Johnson after allegations against the Hollywood producer Harvey Weinsteinsparked the #MeToo movement.
At their meeting the woman told Mr Johnson she was considering complaining to Theresa May, the then prime minister. He told her: "Well, I obviously can't advise you about that. That's a matter, that's a matter for you."
But he then asked: "What do you see as the way forward? Okay, apart from, okay, so there's lots of solutions. You can go to Theresa May and say Boris Johnson is a bastard and all the rest of it and fine, and I would say nothing, um, I will."
He denied any wrongdoing, saying: "I don't believe that I was malicious and I don't believe that I would have been aggressive or anything like that. I think that would be not fair.
"Whatever happened, I don't remember myself that I behaved in any way improperly ... I really don't. I think in all conscience you'd accept that."
A Downing Street spokesman said: "This not about his time as PM and no public interest as I see it. And we don't talk about his private life."
A friend of Mr Johnson said: “This is being used to try to get him out of office quicker. He is not a Trump but his opponents will use the same tactics being used to get rid of Trump. They want him to hand over immediately to Dominic Raab [the deputy prime minister]. They will keep going at him personally as long as they can. It’s pretty desperate.”