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Last Updated: Sunday, 14 November, 2004, 17:23 GMT
Top Tories back Johnson sacking
Boris Johnson
Friends say Mr Johnson's political career is 'far from over'
Senior Conservatives have backed leader Michael Howard's decision to sack shadow arts minister Boris Johnson amid allegations about his private life.

A spokesman for Mr Howard said Mr Johnson was removed for lying about claims of an affair.

Shadow Foreign Secretary Michael Ancram and spokeswoman on family issues Theresa May are among those who have come out in support of the decision.

Mr Johnson, who edits the Spectator, has expressed his regret at the move.

In the end Michael, when he realised Boris had not been frank with him, had to let him go
Conservative deputy leader Michael Ancram

Deputy leader Mr Ancram told the BBC's Breakfast With Frost programme: "It wasn't about his private life, it was about something more central than that.

"Michael Howard for a long time has been talking about the need to restore people's trust in the honesty and integrity of politics.

"Where Boris was less than frank, that was what could not be sustained. In the end Michael, when he realised Boris had not been frank with him, had to let him go."

Ms May, speaking on GMTV, agreed that Mr Howard had "done the right thing".

But shadow Defence Secretary Nicholas Soames refused to endorse the decision, saying it was "a matter for the leader of the party".

"All I can say is Boris's political days are certainly not over," he told Sky News.

"He has got a wonderful constituency. He is a very, very good member of Parliament."

Affair claims

Married father-of-four Mr Johnson has also been dismissed as party vice-chairman.

Last week, he dismissed claims in a Sunday newspaper that he had an affair with Spectator columnist Petronella Wyatt.

It was nothing to do with personal morality but rather with his [Mr Johnson's] personal integrity and honesty
Spokesman for Michael Howard

Mr Howard sacked Mr Johnson by telephone on Saturday afternoon amid fresh revelations in at least two Sunday newspapers.

He told The Mail on Sunday: "I am very sorry this decision has been taken in response to tabloid stories about my private life."

And the Sunday Telegraph quoted him as saying: "It is a wretched and lamentable day when people's private lives become used in political machinations."

He later told PA: "God. It's been a bad evening."

'Not appropriate'

Mr Johnson's father and prospective Tory candidate, Stanley, said he was "100% certain" Boris and wife Marina would sort out any problems.

He added: "There is one thing you can be quite certain of - this is not the end of his political career."

Mr Johnson was embroiled in controversy last month when a Spectator editorial accused Liverpudlians of wallowing in grief over the murder in Iraq of engineer Ken Bigley.

An associate editor of The Spectator, Rod Liddle, described the sacking as "a terrible mistake".

Boris Johnson's wife, Marina Wheeler
Mr Johnson and wife Marina Wheeler have four children

"[Mr Howard] has shown an acute lack of judgment in all of this - the stuff at Liverpool where there was that ludicrous stunt to send poor Boris up to apologise for a perfectly reasonable leader column in the Spectator.

"Now we are in the position where he has allowed an MP's private life to remove the most charismatic and identifiable member of the Conservative Party from the frontbench."

Speaking earlier this week at a Spectator awards ceremony, Mr Howard paid tribute to Mr Johnson.

He described the magazine as "political Viagra" and praised Mr Johnson for carrying out his duties with "aplomb".

He said: "I must take this opportunity of congratulating Boris on the tremendous enthusiasm with which you have approached your various front bench duties."




BBC NEWS: VIDEO AND AUDIO
Why Boris Johnson was dismissed




SEE ALSO:
Boris Johnson sacked: Your views
14 Nov 04 |  Have Your Say
MP apologises for Bigley comment
16 Oct 04 |  Politics
How Boris said sorry to Liverpool
20 Oct 04 |  Politics
Boris Johnson gets frontbench job
06 May 04 |  Politics


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