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Boris Johnson

Boris Johnson official portrait (cropped).jpg
Prime Minister of the United Kingdom
Assumed office
24 July 2019
Monarch Elizabeth II
Preceded by Theresa May
Leader of the Conservative Party
Assumed office
23 July 2019
Preceded by Theresa May
15th Commonwealth Chair-in-Office
Assumed office
24 July 2019
Head Elizabeth II
Preceded by Theresa May
Foreign Secretary
In office
13 July 2016 – 9 July 2018
Prime Minister Theresa May
Preceded by Philip Hammond
Succeeded by Jeremy Hunt
Mayor of London
In office
4 May 2008 – 9 May 2016
Deputy Mayor
  • Richard Barnes
  • Victoria Borwick
  • Roger Evans
Preceded by Ken Livingstone
Succeeded by Sadiq Khan
Member of Parliament
for Uxbridge and South Ruislip
Assumed office
7 May 2015
Preceded by John Randall
Majority 5,034 (10.8%)
Member of Parliament
for Henley
In office
9 June 2001 – 4 June 2008
Preceded by Michael Heseltine
Succeeded by John Howell
Personal details
Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson

19 June 1964 (1964-06-19) (age 55)
New York City, U.S.
  • United Kingdom
  • United States (1964–2016)
Political party Conservative
  • Allegra Mostyn-Owen
    (m. 1987; div. 1993)
  • Marina Wheeler
    (m. 1993; sep 2018)
Children 5 or 6
  • Stanley Johnson
  • Charlotte Johnson Wahl
  • Rachel Johnson (sister)
  • Jo Johnson (brother)
Education Eton College
Alma mater Balliol College, Oxford
Website Commons website

Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson MP (born 19 June 1964) is a British politician and journalist. He is Prime Minister of the United Kingdom and has been Leader of the Conservative Party since 23 July 2019. Johnson, is the Member of Parliament for Uxbridge and South Ruislip since 2015. He represented the constituency of Henley from 2001 to 2008.

In the 2008 Mayor of London election he was elected as London's second Mayor. He resigned as mayor to run as an MP for the House of Commons in 2015. In July 2016, Johnson became Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs. He resigned this position in July 2018, the same day that David Davis resigned. Johnson was replaced by Jeremy Hunt.

Johnson was educated at Eton and Balliol College, Oxford, where he read Classics. He began his journalism career with The Times, and later moved on to The Daily Telegraph where he was assistant editor. He was appointed editor of The Spectator in 1999. In the 2001 general election he was elected to the House of Commons and became one of the most high profile politicians in the country. He has also written several books.

Under Michael Howard, Johnson briefly served on the Conservative front bench as the Shadow Minister for the Arts from April 2004 until November 2004 when he was sacked after allegedly lying about a sex scandal. When contemporary David Cameron was elected leader of the Conservative Party in 2005, Johnson was re-appointed to the front bench as Shadow Minister for Higher Education and resigned as editor of The Spectator to concentrate on his new role.

On 26 August 2014 it was confirmed that Johnson would stand as Conservative candidate for MP for Uxbridge and South Ruislip in the 2015 General Election. He won the election and did not run for re-election in the 2016 mayoral election. He was replaced by Labour candidate Sadiq Khan.

As MP, Johnson was accused of sexism, racism. He was a pro-Brexit campaigner during the 2016 membership referendum and many saw him as a key figure for the movement's success of having the United Kingdom leave the European Union. After declining to run as part leader to replace David Cameron, eventual Prime Minister Theresa May appointed Johnson as Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs in July 2016. After May's failed Brexit agreements, Johnson left her cabinet in July 2018.

After Prime Minister May resigned, Johnson became his party's leader in their 2019 election. On 20 June, Johnson and Jeremy Hunt became the final two candidates in the contest. He became Prime Minister of the United Kingdom on 24 July. The Conservatives won the 2019 United Kingdom general election on 13 December 2019 and Johnson continued in office.

Early life and education

Johnson is the eldest of the four children of Stanley Johnson, a former Conservative MEP and employee of the European Commission and World Bank, and his first wife, painter Charlotte Fawcett (later Wahl), the daughter of Sir James Fawcett, a prominent barrister and president of the European Commission of Human Rights.

On his father's side Johnson is great-grandson of Ali Kemal, a liberal Turkish journalist and interior minister in the government of Damat Ferid Pasha, Grand Vizier of the Ottoman Empire, who was murdered during the Turkish War of Independence. During World War I, Boris's grandfather and great aunt were recognised as British subjects and took their grandmother's maiden name of Johnson. In reference to his cosmopolitan ancestry, Johnson has described himself as a "one-man melting pot" — with a combination of Muslims, Jews and Christians comprising his great-grandparentage. His father's maternal grandmother, Marie Louise de Pfeffel, was a descendent of Prince Paul of Württemberg through his relationship with a German actress. Through Prince Paul, Johnson is a descendent of King George II of Great Britain and through George's great-great-great grandfather King James I of England, a descendent of all the previous British royal houses.

Johnson was born in New York City, New York, USA, but his family returned to England soon afterwards as his mother had yet to take her Oxford finals. Johnson's sister Rachel was born a year later. As a child, Boris Johnson suffered from severe deafness and had to undergo several operations to have grommets inserted in his ears, and was reportedly rather quiet as a child. He was educated at the European School in Brussels, Ashdown House and then at Eton College, where he was a King's Scholar. He read Classics at Balliol College, Oxford, as a Brackenbury scholar, and was elected President of the Oxford Union, at his second attempt. Radek Sikorski has claimed Johnson touted himself as a supporter of the Social Democratic Party, then a dominant current at the university, as a strategy to win the Union presidency, though Johnson denies he was more than the SDP's preferred candidate. Along with David Cameron he was a member of Oxford's Bullingdon Club, a student dining society known for its raucous feasts.

Personal life

In 1987 he married Allegra Mostyn-Owen but the marriage lasted less than a year, finally being dissolved in 1993. Later that same year he married Marina Wheeler, a barrister, the daughter of journalist and broadcaster Sir Charles Wheeler and his Sikh Indian wife, Dip Singh. The Wheeler and Johnson families have known each other for decades, and Marina Wheeler was at the European School in Brussels at the same time as her future husband. They have two sons—Theodore Apollo (born 1999) and Milo Arthur (born 1995)—and two daughters—Lara Lettice (born 1993) and Cassia Peaches (born 1997).

In 2016 Johnson renounced his American citizenship which he acquired because he was born in New York. In 2018, Johnson and Wheeler announced their separation.

Political career

In 2001, Johnson was elected MP for Henley, succeeding Michael Heseltine, having previously been defeated in Clwyd South in the 1997 general election. In 2004 he was appointed to the front bench as Shadow Minister for the Arts in a small reshuffle resulting from the resignation of the Shadow Home Affairs Spokesman, Nick Hawkins. He was also from November 2003 vice-chairman of the Conservative Party, with an emphasis on campaigning.

Boris Johnson and John Hemming cropped
Johnson in March 2006

Johnson was dismissed from these high-profile posts in November, 2004 over accusations that he lied to Michael Howard about a four-year extramarital affair with Petronella Wyatt, The Spectator's New York correspondent and former deputy editor. Johnson derided these allegations as "an inverted pyramid of piffle", but Howard sacked Johnson because he believed press reports showed Johnson had lied, rather than for the affair itself.

He was appointed Shadow Minister for Higher Education on 9 December 2005 by new Conservative Leader David Cameron, and resigned as editor of The Spectator soon afterwards. On 2 April 2006 it was alleged in the News of the World that Johnson had had another extramarital affair, this time with Times Higher Education Supplement journalist Anna Fazackerley. The video shows him emerging from her flat and waving to her in a taxi. Subsequently, in a speech at the University of Exeter concerning student finance, he allegedly made comical remarks about his gratitude to the audience for not "raising other issues" during the talk, which may have been a reference to the allegations. A report in The Times stated that Cameron regarded the possible affair as a private matter, and that Johnson would not lose his job over it.

2008 London Mayoral election

After several days of speculation, Johnson announced he was a potential Conservative candidate for the London mayoral election in 2008 on 16 July 2007. Reported as saying "the opportunity is too great and the prize too wonderful to miss ... the chance to represent London and speak for Londoners", he resigned as Shadow Minister for Higher Education. He was confirmed as the Conservative candidate on 27 September 2007 after gaining 75% of the vote in a public London wide primary.

Mayor of London

Alcohol use ban on public transport

Boris Johnson -holding a red model bus -2007
Johnson pledged to reinstate Routemaster buses if elected Mayor

On 7 May 2008, Johnson announced plans to ban the consumption of alcohol on the London transport network, effective from 1 June, a policy described by Jeroen Weimar, Transport for London's director of transport policing and enforcement, as reasonable, saying people should be more considerate on the trains. The ban initially applies on the London Underground, Buses, DLR and Croydon Trams. The London Overground will be added later in June 2008. Press releases said that the ban would apply to "stations across the capital", but did not specify whether this included National Rail stations - especially those stations not served by the TfL lines on which alcohol is banned.

On the final evening on which alcohol was to be permitted on London transport, thousands of drinkers descended on the Underground system to mark the event. Six London Underground stations were closed as trouble began, and a number of staff and police were assaulted. Police made 17 arrests as several trains were damaged and withdrawn from service.

2008 Olympics

Johnson was present at the closing ceremony of the 2008 Beijing Olympics as London's representative to receive the Olympic flag from Guo Jinlong, the Mayor of Beijing in order to formally announce London as Olympic host city. He was accused by Chinese media of being "rude, arrogant and disrespectful" for accepting the Olympic flag with one hand, putting his hands in his pockets and not buttoning up his jacket. At the subsequent handover party held at London House in Beijing, he gave a speech in which he declared 'ping pong is coming home'.

MP (since 2015)

Boris Johnson with Reuven Rivlin
Johnson with President of Israel Reuven Rivlin, November 2015

In August 2014, Johnson said that he would run as the Conservative candidate for the safe seat of Uxbridge and South Ruislip at the 2015 general election, becoming the party's candidate in September. In the May 2015 general election Johnson was elected MP. Many thought he ran for MP to replace David Cameron as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom.


In February 2016, Johnson supported Vote Leave in the "Out" campaign for the United Kingdom European Union membership referendum, 2016. After his endorsement, Brexit approval dropped nearly 2% to its lowest level since March 2009.

On 22 June 2016, Johnson declared that 23 June could be "Britain's independence day" in a televised debate in front of a 6000-member audience at Wembley Arena. David Cameron, British Prime Minister at the time, specifically addressed Johnson's claim, publicly stating; "the idea that our country isn't independent is nonsense. This whole debate demonstrates our sovereignty."

After the United Kingdom voted to leave the European Union and David Cameron resigned as Prime Minister, Johnson was widely seen as the front-runner to replace him. However, Johnson announced he would not stand in the Conservative leadership election.

Foreign Secretary (2016–2018)

President Donald J. Trump and the British Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs Boris Johnson (37425398262)
Johnson meeting President Donald Trump at the United Nations, October 2017

After Theresa May became leader of the Conservative Party and Prime Minister, in July 2016 she appointed Johnson Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs. Many saw that this appointment made his political power weaker. Barack Obama was critical of Johnson after Johnson made a racist remark to Obama after his support for the U.K. to stay in the European Union.

In May 2018, Johnson supported the Iran Nuclear deal, something that President Donald Trump did not support. After the Poisoning of Sergei and Yulia Skripal in Salisbury, Johnson compared Vladimir Putin to Adolf Hitler.

Johnson was accused of sexism, corruption and racism during his political career.

Johnson resigned as Foreign Secretary in July 2018, following Prime Minister Theresa May's multiple failed Brexit agreements.

Prime Minister (since 2019)

2019 leadership race

On 16 May 2019, Johnson announced his plans to run for prime minister and Leader of the Conservative Party in the 2019 election. He successfully got through the first round of voting with 114 Conservative MPs voting for him. He later won all future ballots by large numbers eventually become the top final two candidate with Jeremy Hunt second on 20 June.

The members' vote closed on 22 July, with the result announced on 23 July. Johnson was elected leader with 92,153 votes (66.4%) to Hunt's 46,656 votes (33.6%). He formally succeeded Theresa May as Prime Minister on 24 July after a meeting with the Queen.

2019 general election

On 29 October 2019, Johnson announced that the next general election would be held on 12 December 2019. The reason was so that Conservatives could win a majority in parliament to pass a Brexit bill. The election resulted in a large Conservative victory, with an overall majority of about 80 seats. The result was the worst for British Labour since 1935.

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