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Boris Johnson gives up £5k-a-week newspaper column

Boris Johnson has quit his lucrative newspaper column, and a commission to write a book on Shakespeare has been put on hold.

The Foreign Secretary has ended his £250,000 contract to write a weekly article for The Daily Telegraph following his appointment to the Cabinet.

Hodder & Stoughton has postponed publication of Shakespeare: The Riddle of Genius - which had been due out in October, but it expects to release the work in the future.

Mr Johnson received an advance of around £90,000 for the book.

Mr Johnson's outside earnings from writing saw him pay nearly £1 million in tax in four years, documents he released earlier this year showed.

Over four years, he was paid £987,097 for his Daily Telegraph column - while book royalties brought in a further £469,385.

Mr Johnson brought his 20 years of work with the newspaper to end in a conversation with group editor Chris Evans.

He is expected to write opinion pieces for a wide-range of newspapers in his capacity as Foreign Secretary, but will not be paid for the articles.

Asked whether Theresa May had told Mr Johnson to give up his newspaper column, the Prime Minister's official spokeswoman said only that it was a decision taken by the Foreign Secretary.

Mr Evans said: "Boris has been an outstanding columnist for The Daily Telegraph for many years, with a legion of devoted readers. We would like to thank him and wish him well in his role as Foreign Secretary."

A spokesman for Mr Johnson said: "Whilst Mr Johnson has enjoyed a close working relationship with The Daily Telegraph for over 20 years, it would not be appropriate for him to continue writing his long-standing column for the newspaper given his new role as Foreign Secretary.

"It is expected that he will continue to write occasional comment pieces for a range of publications in his role as Foreign Secretary."

Hodder & Stoughton said Mr Johnson's book on Shakespeare would not be published for the "foreseeable future", but it is believed to be unlikely that the company will ask for the advance back as it still wants to release it at a later date.

In a statement, it said: "Hodder & Stoughton confirm that they are postponing publication of Boris Johnson's Shakespeare: The Riddle of Genius.

"The book, which was scheduled for publication in October, will not be published for the foreseeable future."

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