Who is Boris Johnson?
Boris Johnson is a British conservative politician. He became the prime minister of the United Kingdom in July 2019. He served as the mayor of London from 2008 to 2016. He previously served as the Member of Parliament (MP) for Henley from 2001 to 2008 and is serving as the MP for Uxbridge and South Ruislip since 2015. He also served as foreign secretary from 2016 to 2018. A member of the ‘Conservative Party,’ Johnson is also a popular historian and journalist. Born in New York City to English parents, he returned to the United Kingdom during his early childhood. His parents valued high-achievers and the young boy was raised to be competitive from a young age. A good student, he was awarded a ‘King's Scholarship’ to study at the prestigious ‘Eton College’ following which he studied Classics at ‘Balliol College,’ Oxford. He began his career as a journalist with ‘The Times’ and found considerable success in this profession. He went on to work as the editor of ‘The Spectator’ from 1999 to 2005. Along with journalism, he was also deeply interested in politics and was elected to the House of Commons as MP for Henley in 2001. He went on to serve on the opposition frontbench, first as Shadow Minister for Culture, Communications and Creative Industries, and then for Higher Education. He is considered a controversial figure in British politics due to his enigmatic personality. Johnson has his own share of supporters and detractors in the world of politics.
Childhood & Early Life
Boris Johnson was born Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson on 19 June 1964, in New York City, USA, to Stanley Johnson and Charlotte Johnson Wahl, as the eldest of four children. At birth, Boris was granted both American and British citizenship. The family moved to the U.K. when he was a child.
Boris was sent to ‘Ashdown House,’ a preparatory boarding school in East Sussex, where he proved to be a good student. He excelled at Ancient Greek and Latin and developed a love for rugby.
He earned a ‘King's Scholarship’ to study at the prestigious ‘Eton College.’ He proved to be a popular student. While he fared poorly in mathematics and science, he performed well in English and Classics. He began writing for his college newspaper ‘The Chronicle’ and soon became its editor.
He proceeded to study Classics at ‘Balliol College,’ Oxford, on a scholarship. Once again, he became a popular figure and was elected secretary of the ‘Oxford Union’ in 1984. He specialized in the study of Ancient Literature and Classical Philosophy and graduated with an upper second-class degree.
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Boris Johnson began his career as a journalist in 1987 when he began working as a graduate trainee at ‘The Times.’ His tenure at the newspaper proved to be problematic and he was sacked from his job.
This early setback in his career did not deter him as he went on to establish himself as a much-loved journalist. Over the next few years, he worked with ‘The Daily Telegraph’ as feature writer, EU correspondent, and assistant editor. He became the editor of ‘The Spectator’ in 1999. The magazine thrived under his editorship, adding to his reputation as a highly successful journalist.
During this period, he also began pursuing his political aspirations and became a Member of Parliament for Henley in 2001. He continued his journalistic career alongside his full-time job as an MP, holding on to his post as the editor of ‘The Spectator.’ He also wrote columns for ‘The Daily Telegraph’ and ‘GQ.’ He proved to be a popular politician despite earning a reputation for courting controversies.
In 2007, Boris Johnson announced his candidacy for the position of mayor of London in the 2008 mayoral election. During the election, the flamboyant politician won the largest personal electoral mandate in the U.K., defeating incumbent Ken Livingstone to become the mayor. He assumed office as the mayor of London in May 2008.
As the mayor, one of his initial policy initiatives was to ban drinking alcohol in public transport. He also gained some notoriety for his idleness and sloppy dressing sense. A cyclist himself, he introduced a public bicycle scheme called ‘Boris Bikes’ which became popular. He also commissioned the development of the ‘New Routemaster’ buses for central London.
During his tenure, Boris became embroiled in several controversies. However, he continued to enjoy popularity in the eyes of his ardent supporters. During the 2012 mayoral election, he sought re-election, and once again faced Livingstone. Boris Johnson won the re-election quite easily due to immense support from his followers.
During his second term, he became the co-chair of an Olympic board which oversaw the 2012 ‘London Olympic Games.’ Prior to the games, he took action to improve the transport around London and introduced more buses for thousands of visiting spectators
In 2015, he was elected as MP for Uxbridge and South Ruislip. Despite numerous allegations pertaining to extra-marital affairs and other controversies, he continued to remain a popular politician.
During the 2015-16 Brexit campaign, Boris supported the ‘Vote Leave’ campaign. Upon its victory, he was regarded as the next front-runner for the prime minister post. However, he refused the Conservative candidacy and Theresa May became the prime minister.
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He then served as foreign secretary under Theresa May’s government from 2016 to 2018. During his tenure, he courted controversies, thanks to his comments on the five-year prison sentence of Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe.
As foreign secretary, he put forth aggressive policies, stirring rumors that he is not happy with May’s leadership. However, he denied the reports and resigned from the post after attending a meeting to discuss Brexit. He then took up a year-long contract to write articles for ‘Telegraph Media Group.’
Upon Theresa May’s resignation, Johnson confirmed and launched his campaign for the upcoming election. He then won the election against Jeremy Hunt on 22 July 2019 with 66% votes.
As prime minister, Johnson proposed to leave the European Union by 31 October 2019 with or without a deal. He then called for a general election in September under ‘Fixed-term Parliament Act’ to prevent a no deal exit.
As the mayor of London, Boris Johnson introduced ‘Boris Bikes,’ a public bicycle hire scheme. Johnson said that he "hoped the bikes would become as common as black cabs and red buses in the capital." The scheme was launched in July 2010, with over 90,000 users registering one million cycle rides in the first ten weeks of operation.
During his tenure as mayor, he also introduced the ‘New Routemaster,’ a hybrid diesel-electric double-decker bus that was similar to the original Routemaster bus but with updated features to meet the requirements for modern buses to be fully accessible. Originally referred to as the ‘New Bus for London,’ the first ‘New Routemaster’ bus was launched in February 2012.
Awards & Achievements
In 1997, he was honored at the ‘What the Papers Say’ awards with the ‘Commentator of the Year Award.’
He was named ‘Pagan Federation of Great Britain National Journalist of the Year’ in 1998.
He was voted Editors’ ‘Editor of the Year’ in 2003.
Personal Life & Legacy
Boris Johnson married Allegra Mostyn-Owen in 1987. The marriage was dissolved in 1993.
He tied the knot for the second time with Marina Wheeler, a barrister, in 1993. This marriage produced two daughters and two sons. The couple separated and filed for divorce in 2018 after 25 years of marriage.
Johnson, who was accused of marital infidelity, has a daughter with Helen MacIntyre, an arts consultant. He has also been linked with Jennifer Arcuri, a former DJ and model.
In 2019, he started living with Carrie Symonds. On 29 February 2020, Symonds and Johnson announced their engagement. They also said that Symonds was expecting a baby in summer.
Boris Johnson has an estimated net worth of $2 million.