Boris Johnson finally accomplished his long-cherished ambition to be UK prime minister, defeating foreign secretary Jeremy Hunt to the top post. The former British foreign secretary succeeds incumbent Theresa May as Conservative party leader and UK Prime Minister.
Boris Johnson was born in New York to British parents, thereby granting him both American and British citizenships. He completed his graduation from Oxford University, where he was elected President of the Oxford Union in 1986.
Subsequently, he began his career in Journalism at The Times newspaper in 1987 as a trainee reporter. But he was sacked within a year for fabricating a quote in an article on King Edward II and his gay lover. He then went on to work for various news organisations such as the Daily Telegraph which he left to join the Spectator as its editor.
His tenure at the Spectator from 1999-2005 briefly overlapped with his political ambitions. He was elected as MP for Henley in 2001. Three years later, Boris Johnson stoked another controversy as he was fired from his roles as shadow arts minister and Conservative Party vice-chairman by then Minister Michael Howard for lying about an extramarital affair with a journalist.
Johnson was re-elected MP for Henley in the 2005 general elections. He was later selected as the Conservative Party candidate for the 2008 London Mayoral elections. He defeated Labour incumbent Ken Livingstone in the election and subsequently resigned as Henley MP in the House of Commons.
During his first term as London Mayor, Johnson banned alcohol consumption in public transport and introduced the cycle hire scheme. He was re-elected for the second term as Mayor during which he oversaw the 2012 Olympics. He returned to parliament as MP in 2015 but this time for Uxbridge and South Ruislip. However, he had to step down as mayor the following year.
From 2016 to 2018, he was appointed as Foreign Secretary during Theresa May’s leadership. Johnson resigned last year in July over Prime Minister Theresa May’s plans to leave the European Union, leaving the British leader’s Brexit plans all but in tatters.
Johnson is admired by many Conservatives for his ability to connect with voters, but others mistrust him for his long record of misleading and false statements, verbal blunders and erratic performance.
A trail of controversies have followed the former mayor and British foreign secretary
In 2007, Johnson criticized Labour’s handover from Blair to Brown without an election as “a palace coup” and compared it to the succession of Roman emperors. He’s not so critical of the current contest.
During the country’s 2016 EU membership referendum, Johnson campaigned on the inaccurate claim that Britain sends the EU 350 million pounds ($444 million) a week. Last year he faced criticism for comparing Muslim women who wear face-covering veils to “letterboxes.”
In 2017, when he was foreign secretary, he incorrectly said that a British-Iranian woman imprisoned in Iran was a journalist, damaging attempts to secure her release.
Johnson made a failed attempt to become prime minister three years ago in a contest won by May. This time around, his tough line on the EU has won him the support of many Brexiters in the Conservative Party, who prioritise leaving the bloc above all other issues.
What lies ahead for the new UK Prime Minister?
Johnson, who resigned as foreign minister a year ago over May’s Brexit plans, will inherit a political crisis over Britain’s exit from the European Union, currently due to take place on October 31. Johnson must persuade the EU to revive talks on a withdrawal deal that it has been adamant cannot be reopened, or else lead Britain into the economic uncertainty of an unmanaged departure.
Johnson campaigned with characteristic bluster, vowing to revive the country’s “mojo” and making one main promise: Britain will leave the EU on October 31, “come what may.” He may find that promise hard to keep. The new leader heads a government with no parliamentary majority in a deeply divided country that is facing off with a mistrustful EU.
Johnson has proposed a standstill agreement with Brussels under which trade between the two sides would not face tariffs or quotas while a future trade agreement is negotiated. Brussels has said it will not renegotiate the withdrawal terms it has already agreed with May.