By Kerri-Ann Roper, PA Entertainment Editor
Hollywood star Arnold Schwarzenegger has lavished praise on British prime minister Boris Johnson saying he is the “real deal”.
The former governor of California (73) also commended the public bicycle hire scheme launched in parts of the UK during Mr Johnson’s tenure as mayor of London and often referred to as “Boris bikes”.
Schwarzenegger made the comments during an interview with British MP Alok Sharma as they discussed the Cop26, the international climate change summit due to take place in Glasgow later this year.
The Terminator actor said: “The reason why I mentioned Boris is because your prime minister is, unlike some of the other countries that are host countries of this event, of a Cop event, he is the real deal.
“And I remember when he was mayor of London, and he started the Boris bikes, and he had me come over to his office, and we rode around on the Boris bikes, you know, to make them popular, and had the press show up and all this stuff and now in the meantime, those Boris bikes are in every city in the world.
“So it just shows to you how someone’s idea can really spread worldwide. And you know, they have it in Vienna, they have it in Paris, they have it in South Africa, everywhere they have it in Japan, in South Korea I rode the Boris bike. I mean, they are all over the world.
“So he is really the real deal and he really believes in it and that’s what I love about him, and I think that’s why your conference is going to be successful, because with his backing, and with your knowledge and your passion and all that stuff, I think it’s going to be great.”
In 2011 Schwarzenegger and Mr Johnson buried the hatchet as they took to the streets of London to promote the Boris bike scheme. The scheme is currently sponsored by Santander, who follow on from original sponsor Barclays.
The pair had previously been engaged in a war of words, after the actor was caught on a microphone calling Mr Johnson’s 2007 Conservative conference address “fumbling”.
In his 2008 conference speech, Mr Johnson retorted that it had been a “low moment” to have his speaking style “denounced by a monosyllabic Austrian cyborg”.
But the pair repaired their friendship and have been reunited on various occasions since.
Schwarzenegger, who enjoyed a political career as the governor of California from 2003 to 2011, was speaking to Mr Sharma as part of his Arnold’s Stammtisch series, which he launched in April this year.
A stammtisch is the regular’s table at a bar or restaurant in Austria. It’s a place where locals can have open conversations. Over the next few months, I’ll be hosting environmental leaders in informal conversations! This is the first of many.
— Arnold (@Schwarzenegger) April 19, 2021
The actor said he would be hosting informal conversations with environmental leaders in the lead up to the Austrian World Summit (AWS), a global environmental gathering now in its fifth year.
Launching his series earlier this year, he tweeted: “A stammtisch is the regular’s table at a bar or restaurant in Austria. It’s a place where locals can have open conversations. Over the next few months, I’ll be hosting environmental leaders in informal conversations! This is the first of many.”
His first guest on the series was Avatar director James Cameron.