Amid all the glad-handing and rictus grins that greeted Barack Obama everywhere he turned during his whistlestop visit to the British Isles, Boris Johnson will undoubtedly have made a particular impression upon him.
At the end of the state banquet in the president’s honour at Buckingham Palace, the Mayor of London took the opportunity to have a quick word. “Could you please write me out a cheque for £5 million?” Johnson asked him.
The request for the president to settle the congestion charge bill that his country has run up was made with charm. The president smiled broadly. If he was about to reach for his chequebook, however, the swift intervention of Louis Susman, Obama’s ambassador to London and his former fund-raiser, put paid to that.
“I think this is a matter where our position is already well known,” he said to Johnson with a steely glare as Obama departed. Still, Johnson was delighted to have got his request in. “Mission accomplished,” he texted a colleague afterwards.
The American Embassy owes a total of £5,291,520 in unpaid congestion charge bills, which makes it the worst offender among the diplomatic missions in the capital.
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