Pippa Middleton’s challenge to Boris Johnson as she told PM ‘bring it on’

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Mr Johnson closed off the Conservative Party Conference yesterday, vowing to “level up” the UK. The Prime Minister’s speech in Manchester came against a backdrop of fuel shortages in some areas amid disruptions to supply chains. Speaking to Tory delegates, he defended limiting the flow of low-wage foreign workers into the country after Brexit. Before entering Downing Street, Mr Johnson served two terms as Mayor of London and, while he has often struck a more serious tone as Prime Minister, as Mayor he was known for his more relaxed, flamboyant style.

One encounter saw Mr Johnson challenged to a sporting showdown by Pippa, the sister of Kate, Duchess of Cambridge. 

The food and health writer invited the contest in a piece she wrote for the Spectator magazine in 2013.

She spoke about how an avalanche had stopped her finishing a gruelling endurance ski race from France to Switzerland.

She said: “Back home in London after my Alpine challenges, I can now pursue less demanding hobbies in my spare time, such as ping-pong.

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“I’m informed that Boris Johnson, former editor of this magazine, wants to be ‘whiff-whaff’ world king even more than he wants to be Prime Minister.

“I’m also told the Johnsons are almost as competitive as the Middletons.

“So, I’d like to lay down a challenge to the Mayor.

“My only stipulation is that I can use my favourite Dunlop Blackstorm Nemesis bat, which I used when I played in the Milton Keynes U13 National Championships, don’t you know. Bring it on, Boris.”

Mr Johnson replied in a tweet after Pippa’s article was posted by the Spectator’s editor, Fraser Nelson.

He said: “I’m game if she is. Happy for Pippa to join me on a visit and see the benefits of our £22m Sports Legacy Fund in action.”

However, the Prime Minister also admitted he was nervous about Pippa’s challenge during a visit to TV and film company, Ealing Studios.

He said: “I feel very nervous clearly, because she seems to be very good. Well, she claims to be very good.

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“But I’m very happy to do this because it’s a chance to promote what we’re doing with sports legacy London.

“If Pippa’s kind offer can be used to promote that then I’m all for it.”

Mr Johnson gave his version of how ping pong became a popular sport as he appeared at the end of the Beijing Olympics in 2008, where he accepted the Olympic flag on behalf of London.

He claimed that rather than being invented in China, ping pong – or whiff-whaff – can be traced back to the dinner tables of nineteenth-century England.

However, Mr Johnson’s claim was disputed by Joe Jaques of sports equipment manufacturer, Jaques of London, who said he was “completely wrong”.

Ping pong’s origins are contested but Mr Jaques’ family claimed to be the first to organise the game into a proper sport.

During Mr Johnon’s stint as Mayor of London, the capital hosted the 2012 Olympic Games.
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