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Boris Johnson's early days as mayor: 'It was total, total chaos'

The politician’s years in London’s City Hall give clues to his possible working style as PM

Boris Johnson had been mayor of London for 115 days when the rest of the world got its first glimpse of the idiosyncratic charms that had helped him bag the job. After shambling, his blazer unbuttoned, into the Bird’s Nest stadium in Beijing for the handover ceremony of the 2008 Olympics, he inexpertly flapped the official flag of the Games for a few seconds, half-heartedly punched the air and then put his hands in his pockets.

Later that evening, “London’s new and unusual mayor” (New York Times) would declare to a gathering of tipsy Britons and utterly baffled Chinese that “wiff-waff [was] coming home”, concluding a display that led the paper, in a roundup of unofficial medallists, to award him “least reassuring performance in a transitional role”. The subtext of this and much of the other international coverage was clear: this was the man Londoners had chosen to run their city?

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