London CNN —
UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced his resignation as Conservative Party leader Thursday, bringing his scandal-plagued tenure to an end after less than three years.
Johnson was left with little choice but to step down after several high-profile members of his cabinet resigned in protest this week over his handling of misconduct allegations related to government officials. Dozens more members of his government have also quit.
Johnson was ultimately undone by his response to fallout from the resignation last Thursday of deputy chief whip Chris Pincher, amid allegations Pincher had groped two guests at a private dinner the night before. While he did not admit the allegations directly, Pincher said in a letter to Johnson last week that “last night I drank far too much” and “embarrassed myself and other people.” Other historical allegations of misconduct by Pincher emerged in the ensuing days.
Johnson initially denied being aware of some of those allegations, but ultimately the Prime Minister was forced to admit he had been briefed years before and apologize for his decision-making.
It was the final straw for many political allies who had supported Johnson through crisis after crisis over the years. In recent months the Prime Minister had been facing a barrage of criticism from all sides over his conduct and that of his government, including illegal, lockdown-breaking parties thrown in his Downing Street offices, for which he and others were fined.
Johnson faced numerous other scandals that hit his standing in the polls – despite his 80-seat landslide general election victory just two and a half years ago. These include accusations of using donor money inappropriately to pay for a refurbishment of his Downing Street home and whipping lawmakers to protect a colleague who had breached lobbying rules.
Two weeks ago, the Conservatives lost two key by-elections – results that were blamed on Johnson personally.
In early June, he survived a confidence vote, but the final count of his lawmakers who rebelled against him was higher than his supporters expected: 41% of his own parliamentary party refused to back him.
That vote was triggered after months of speculation over Johnson’s future. The so-called “Partygate” scandal, which saw Johnson found guilty of breaking his own Covid-19 laws by attending a gathering to celebrate his birthday at a time when such events were banned, has dogged Johnson since the news broke late last year.
A controversial rise
With the possible exception of his hero, Winston Churchill, Johnson was perhaps the most famous politician to enter Downing Street as Prime Minister, having forged a successful career as a journalist, novelist, TV personality and London mayor in the preceding decades.
He was a populist before populists really existed. His controversial comments – comparing Muslim women who wear face coverings to letterboxes, or calling gay men “bum boys” to name but two – appalled many. But he got away with his Lothario image, the public seemingly happy to accept his alleged affairs and love child. It seemed that Johnson could essentially laugh his way through any problem.
Yet, for all his ambition and charisma, the job of Prime Minister seemed out of reach for most of his adult life. Those who know Johnson personally say that he loathed the fact that many in the British Conservative elite saw him as a useful campaigning tool but more of a comedian cheerleader than a serious statesman.
Boris Johnson waves from the steps of No. 10 Downing Street after giving a statement in London in July 2019. He had just become prime minister.
A 15-year-old Johnson, right, is seen outside Eton College, a boarding school outside London, in 1979.
Johnson, 21, speaks with Greek Minister for Culture Melina Mercouri in June 1986. Johnson at the time was president of the Oxford Union, a prestigious student society.
Johnson started his career as a journalist. He was fired from an early job at The Times for fabricating a quote. He later became a Brussels correspondent and then an assistant editor for The Daily Telegraph. From 1994 to 2005, he was editor of the weekly magazine The Spectator.
In 2001, Johnson was elected as a member of Parliament. He won the seat in Henley for the Conservative Party.
Johnson looks apologetic after fouling Germany's Maurizio Gaudino during a charity soccer match in Reading, England, in May 2006.
Johnson is congratulated by Conservative Party leader David Cameron, right, after being elected mayor of London in May 2008. Cameron later became prime minister.
Johnson, left, poses with a wax figure of himself at Madame Tussauds in London in May 2009.
Johnson poses for a photo in London in April 2011. He was re-elected as the city's mayor in 2012.
Johnson and his wife, Marina, enjoy the atmosphere in London ahead of the Olympic opening ceremony in July 2012. The couple separated in 2018 after 25 years of marriage.
Johnson gets stuck on a zip line during an event in London's Victoria Park in August 2012.
Johnson waves on London's Wandsworth Bridge as a bike-sharing program was expanded in the city in 2013.
Johnson poses with his father, Stanley, and his siblings, Rachel and Jo, at the launch of his new book in October 2014. Stanley Johnson was once a member of the European Parliament.
Johnson takes part in a charity tug-of-war with British military personnel in October 2015.
Johnson and Michael Gove ride on a "Vote Leave" campaign bus in June 2016.
Johnson kisses a wild salmon while visiting a fish market in London in June 2016. A month earlier, he stepped down as mayor but remained a member of Parliament for Uxbridge and South Ruislip.
Johnson arrives at a news conference in London in June 2016. During the Brexit referendum that year, he was under immense pressure from Prime Minister Cameron to back the Remain campaign. But he broke ranks and backed Brexit at the last minute.
Johnson sits next to Prime Minister Theresa May during a Cabinet meeting in November 2016. Johnson was May's foreign secretary for two years before resigning over her handling of Brexit.
As foreign secretary, Johnson meets with US House Speaker Paul Ryan in April 2017. Johnson was born in New York City to British parents and once held dual citizenship. But he renounced his US citizenship in 2016.
Johnson launches his Conservative Party leadership campaign in June 2019.
Johnson and Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt take part in the Conservative Leadership debate in June 2019.
Johnson speaks in July 2019 after he won the party leadership vote to become Britain's next prime minister.
Britain's Queen Elizabeth II welcomes Johnson at Buckingham Palace, where she invited him to become Prime Minister and form a new government.
Johnson poses with his dog Dilyn as he leaves a polling station in London in December 2019.
Johnson appears on stage alongside Bobby Smith during the count declaration in London in December 2019. Johnson's Conservative Party won a majority in the UK's general election, securing his position as Prime Minister.
Johnson and his partner, Carrie Symonds, react to election results from his study at No. 10 Downing Street.
Johnson speaks on the phone with Queen Elizabeth II in March 2020.
In March 2020, Johnson announced in a video posted to Twitter that he tested positive for the novel coronavirus. "Over the last 24 hours, I have developed mild symptoms and tested positive for coronavirus. I am now self-isolating, but I will continue to lead the government's response via video conference as we fight this virus. Together we will beat this," Johnson said. He was later hospitalized after his symptoms had "worsened," according to his office.
Johnson and Chancellor Rishi Sunak, outside of No. 10 Downing Street, join a national applause showing appreciation for health-care workers during the Covid-19 pandemic.
Johnson is seen via video conference as he attends a Covid-19 meeting remotely in March 2020.
After recovering from the coronavirus, Johnson returned to work in late April 2020.
Johnson and staff members are pictured together with wine at a Downing Street garden in May 2020. In January 2022, Johnson apologized for attending the event, which took place when Britons were prohibited from gathering due to strict coronavirus restrictions.
Johnson wears a face mask as he visits the headquarters of the London Ambulance Service NHS Trust in July 2020.
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo sits across from Johnson in the garden of No. 10 Downing Street in July 2020.
14/07/2020. London, United Kingdom. Boris Johnson and Carrie NHS Call.The Prime Minister Boris Johnson and his partner Carrie Symonds with their son Wilfred in the study of No10 Downing Street speaking via zoom to the midwifes that helped deliver their son at the UCLH.
Johnson holds a crab in Stromness Harbour during a visit to Scotland in July 2020.
Johnson is seen with his wife, Carrie, after their wedding at London's Westminster Cathedral in May 2021. The ceremony, described by PA Media as a "secret wedding," was reportedly held in front of close friends and family, according to several British newspaper accounts.
Johnson and US President Joe Biden speak at Carbis Bay in Cornwall, England, after their bilateral meeting in June 2021. Biden and Johnson were participating in the G7 summit that weekend.
Queen Elizabeth II greets Johnson at Buckingham Palace in June 2021. It was the Queen's first in-person weekly audience with the Prime Minister since the start of the coronavirus pandemic.
Johnson delivers his keynote speech on the final day of the annual Conservative Party Conference in October 2021.
Johnson and former British prime ministers attend a requiem Mass for Conservative MP David Amess in November 2021. From left are former Prime Ministers John Major, David Cameron and Theresa May, Speaker of the House of Commons Lindsay Hoyle, Home Secretary Priti Patel and Johnson.
Johnson and his wife, Carrie, holding their newborn daughter, Romy, hold video calls in December 2021.
Johnson speaks in the House of Commons in January 2022. He apologized for attending a May 2020 garden party that took place while the UK was in a hard lockdown to combat the spread of Covid-19. Johnson told lawmakers he believed the gathering to be a work event but that, with hindsight, he should have sent attendees back inside.
Johnson meets Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky in Kyiv, Ukraine, in April 2022.
Johnson attends the National Service of Thanksgiving at St Paul's Cathedral in London in June 2022. It was part of Platinum Jubilee celebrations for Queen Elizabeth II.
"I think it's an extremely good, positive, conclusive, decisive result which enables us to move on to unite," Johnson said in an interview shortly after surviving a confidence vote in June 2022.
Johnson leaves No. 10 Downing Street on July 6, a day after two senior Cabinet ministers quit over Downing Street's handling of the resignation of deputy chief whip Chris Pincher.
At Prime Minister's Questions on July 6, Johnson said "the job of a Prime Minister in difficult circumstances when he has been handed a colossal mandate is to keep going, and that's what I'm going to do."
Johnson announces his resignation in front of No. 10 Downing Street on July 7. "It is clearly now the will of the parliamentary Conservative party that there should be a new leader of that party and therefore a new prime minister," he said.
Johnson speaks outside No. 10 Downing Street on September 6. It was his last day as prime minister.
In photos: Former British Prime Minister Boris Johnson
Even during his time as Mayor of London, winning two terms in a city that traditionally doesn’t vote Conservative, the most memorable moments of his time in office are images such as him inelegantly dangling from a zip wire or forcefully rugby tackling a 10-year-old child while on a trade visit to Tokyo. He just wasn’t considered serious enough for the top job.
Then Brexit happened. Johnson led the successful campaign that defied the odds and saw the UK vote by a narrow majority to leave the European Union in 2016.
Overnight, he went from being a man who seemed to have made a fatal political error by backing the wrong horse in the referendum, to the figurehead of a mass rebellion that had just overrun the entire British establishment.
On paper, Johnson was an unlikely candidate to become the voice of those who felt themselves to be voiceless. Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson was born in New York City in 1964 to an internationalist family. As a boy, Johnson would tell friends and relatives that he wanted to be “world king” when fully grown, his sister wrote in a family biography.
He was educated at Eton College, the most exclusive private school in the UK, alma mater of 20 Prime Ministers, followed by the University of Oxford. While at Oxford, he was a member of the notorious Bullingdon Club: An elite all-male group for wealthy students, famed for ostentatious (and sometimes rowdy) displays of wealth such as vandalizing restaurants, then paying for the damage on the spot in cash. Johnson was never proven to have been personally involved in any such activity.
Johnson worked as a journalist for establishment newspapers, most notably The Daily Telegraph, which made him its Brussels correspondent in 1989. It was here in Belgium that Johnson began writing what would become the most important chapter of his life story: Brexit.
Boris Johnson speaks at a Brexit press conference in London in November 2019.
Although the Telegraph was firmly Euroskeptic, the UK’s exit from the EU was not really on the cards at the time, and even English Conservatives seemed to accept this. However, they lapped up Johnson’s guerrilla journalism, which often stretched the truth of what was actually happening in Brussels.
The most famous example of this was a story by Johnson that claimed the EU was planning to ban the sale of bendy bananas. The EU repeatedly debunked that and many of the stories that Johnson published.
In 1999, Johnson was offered the editorship of The Spectator, a weekly magazine often jokingly called the “Conservative bible.” He accepted, agreeing with the owner that he would drop his by now well-known political ambitions, according to a biography by the political journalist Andrew Gimson. He kept his word for all of two years and stood to become a member of parliament in 2001.
In the years that followed, Johnson was swallowed by the conservative establishment. He carried on writing the conservative script as a journalist and building a base of loyalists both inside and outside of politics.
As Johnson’s confidence grew, he was determined to show the Conservative Party that his appeal went beyond the British right. In 2008, he was elected the Mayor of London – a liberal, cosmopolitan city that did not traditionally vote Conservative. Johnson believed that he was showing his party that he had the chops to drag them into the 21st century. The problem for Johnson was that they already had a new, young leader – his old schoolfriend and future Prime Minister, David Cameron.
It was Cameron who ultimately made Brexit possible. After winning his second general election as Conservative leader in 2015, he decided to hold the EU referendum on the understanding that Johnson would fall in line and be an asset for the “remain” campaign.
Instead, in February 2016, Johnson shocked the nation by announcing on the front page of his old paper, the Telegraph, that he would defy Cameron and lead the Brexit campaign.
The rest is history. Johnson turned the establishment on its head and became the most influential politician in the UK. While he didn’t become Prime Minister immediately, he continued to build his power base, undermining then-incumbent Theresa May as she struggled with Brexit for three years.
As foreign secretary under May, he was blamed for worsening the predicament of the jailed British-Iranian mother Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe after wrongly saying in 2017 that she was in Iran teaching journalists, rather than on holiday, at the time she was detained. But his patchy record in the role did not appear to cost him much support within his party.
A populist who became unpopular
Johnson’s time finally came in July 2019 when he became leader of the Conservative Party, claiming around two-thirds of the membership vote. His brash style was vindicated later that year, when he silenced all of his opponents in a landslide election victory that would finally allow him to, as his own slogan boasted, “Get Brexit Done.”
It truly seemed that the stars had finally aligned for Johnson, who desperately wanted to be taken seriously. He made Brexit popular and personally dragged it across the line. He had completed his transition to the role of statesman. He had proved everyone wrong.
Yet, as the clock ticked down on so-called Brexit Day, January 31, 2020, a deadly virus was already causing alarm in Asia. It would soon start spreading across Europe and kick off the crisis that would remove him from office.
Johnson had a mixed pandemic. He was lauded by the public for the amount of state spending unleashed to mitigate its impacts on those whose jobs and livelihoods were threatened, but panned by the more conservative elements of his party. He was accused of responding too slowly, but also for making lockdown rules so complicated even he and his team in Downing Street couldn’t follow them.
The breaking of these rules by Johnson and members of his team, the economic fallout of the pandemic leading in part to a cost-of-living crisis, his handling of the Pincher scandal and a general sense of the shine wearing off the Brexit golden boy were ultimately too much for his party. It seems its members couldn’t stand the thought of Johnson staying on and dragging the party into its grave.
His political career is a story of near-misses, sex scandals, celebrity, controversy and revolution that ended in personal tragedy. The man who only ever wanted to be taken seriously ended up, ultimately, as the joker once again.
Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson (/ˈfɛfəl/; born 19 June 1964) is a British politician, writer and journalist who served as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom and Leader of the Conservative Party from 2019 to 2022. He previously served as Foreign Secretary from 2016 to 2018 and as Mayor of London from 2008 to 2016.Which party does Boris Johnson belong to? ›
Johnson was declared leader of the Conservative Party after the results of the 2019 leadership election were announced on 23 July 2019, and was appointed prime minister the following day. The extraordinary political turmoil over Brexit, begun during May's premiership, continued into the start of Johnson's premiership.How tall is Boris Johnson? › What is party gate in britain? ›
June 2022) Partygate was a political scandal in the United Kingdom about parties and other gatherings of government and Conservative Party staff held during the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020 and 2021, when public health restrictions prohibited most gatherings.Can a Catholic become prime minister? ›
Yes, a Catholic can be prime minster of Britain. In fact, the current prime minister, Theresa May, is Catholic. In the past, certain laws were interpreted to prevent Catholics from holding the office, but those laws are no longer applied in the same way today.Who stood against Boris? ›
|Candidate||First ballot: 13 June 2019||Members' vote|
The Conservative Party, officially the Conservative and Unionist Party and also known colloquially as the Tories, is one of the two main political parties in the United Kingdom, along with the Labour Party. It is the current governing party, having won the 2019 general election.Which party is left wing in UK? ›
The largest political party associated with the British Left is the Labour Party, which is also the biggest political party in the UK by membership levels, with 415,000 members as of July 2022.Who is the oldest living UK Prime Minister? ›
Of the seven former prime ministers currently alive, the oldest is John Major (born 29 March 1943), who is 79 years old.Who is England's longest serving prime minister? ›
Longest serving: Sir Robert Walpole.
The Prime Minister's official car - or the Prime Ministerial Car - is actually a fleet of armour-plated Jaguar XJ 'Sentinel' saloons.What do they call parties in the UK? ›
Since the 1920s the two main political parties in the UK, in terms of the number of seats in the House of Commons, are the Conservative and Unionist Party and the Labour Party.What is a white party UK? ›
The White Nationalist Party (WNP) was a British neo-fascist political party, founded in May 2002 as "the British political wing of Aryan Unity".What is a party called in England? ›
|Conservative and Unionist Party||1834||Rishi Sunak|
|Labour Party Co-operative Party||1900 1917 (Co-op)||Keir Starmer|
|Scottish National Party||1934||Nicola Sturgeon|
|Liberal Democrats||1988||Ed Davey|
ROME — Pope Francis has changed the laws of the Roman Catholic church to formally allow women to give readings from the Bible during Mass, act as altar servers and distribute communion, but they remain barred from becoming deacons or priests.Can a Catholic take the throne? ›
Parliament, under the Bill of Rights and the Act of Settlement, also laid down various conditions which the Sovereign must meet. A Roman Catholic is specifically excluded from succession to the throne.What percentage of England is Catholic? ›
|Catholic Church in England and Wales|
French. One of the most widely spoken European languages in the British Royal Family is French. Queen Elizabeth II was close to fluent and, in her role as a diplomat, she delivered speeches and addresses in the language throughout her 70-year reign.What did Mary say about Boris? ›
Popular duo, Giles and Mary, reacted to the clip about Boris' comments. Mary said: "I am very sorry for Elsie but Susanna is making out it is Boris fault and like he doesn't care." Giles asks her: "Whose fault is it?" and Mary replies: "Well it is the global situation."How many languages can Boris Johnson speak fluently? ›
Johnson (majority, 2019–2022)
Since the 2019 general election, after which the Conservatives held 365 seats, Boris Johnson's second government has been defeated four times in the House of Commons.
Since Federation in 1901, only 2 serving Prime Ministers have lost their seats at an election.Did Boris hold his seat? ›
Uxbridge and South Ruislip is a constituency in Greater London represented in the House of Commons of the UK Parliament. The seat has been held by the Conservative Party since its 2010 creation. Since 2015 it has been represented by Boris Johnson, who served as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom from 2019 to 2022.Why are they called Tories? ›
As a political term, Tory was an insult (derived from the Middle Irish word tóraidhe, modern Irish tóraí, meaning "outlaw", "robber", from the Irish word tóir, meaning "pursuit" since outlaws were "pursued men") that entered English politics during the Exclusion Bill crisis of 1678–1681.What does left wing mean in British politics? ›
Left-wing politics typically involve a concern for those in society whom its adherents perceive as disadvantaged relative to others as well as a belief that there are unjustified inequalities that need to be reduced or abolished.What does the color blue mean in politics? ›
In the United States, the colour blue has been associated with the liberal Democratic Party since around the 2000 presidential election, when most of the major television networks used the same colour scheme for the parties.Is Conservative left or right in Canada? ›
The party sits at the centre-right to the right of the Canadian political spectrum, with their federal rival, the Liberal Party of Canada, positioned to their left.What is better left wing or right-wing? ›
Ideological groupings. Generally, the left wing is characterized by an emphasis on "ideas such as freedom, equality, fraternity, rights, progress, reform and internationalism" while the right wing is characterized by an emphasis on "notions such as authority, hierarchy, order, duty, tradition, reaction and nationalism" ...Is the Green party left or right? ›
The party promotes green politics, specifically environmentalism; nonviolence; social justice; participatory democracy, grassroots democracy; anti-war; anti-racism; libertarian socialism and eco-socialism. On the political spectrum, the party is generally seen as left-wing.What has Boris Johnson done for London? ›
During his mayoralty, Johnson oversaw the preparations and hosting of the 2012 Summer Olympics and oversaw the cycle hire scheme. He also with introduced the New Routemaster buses and the Thames cable car, while promoting the Garden Bridge. Johnson also banned alcohol consumption on much of London's public transport.
If the House of Commons voted to impeach, the mover would be ordered to go to the Bar of the House of Lords to impeach them "in the name of the House of Commons, and of all the commons of the United Kingdom" and "to acquaint them that this house will, in due time, exhibit particular articles against him, and make good ...Has Boris Johnson been defeated? ›
Johnson (majority, 2019–2022)
Since the 2019 general election, after which the Conservatives held 365 seats, Boris Johnson's second government has been defeated four times in the House of Commons.
This is a list of resignations from the second government formed by Prime Minister Boris Johnson. Since forming a government on 13 December 2019 after the general election, Johnson has faced the resignation of 10 cabinet ministers (one of whom resigned on two separate occasions) and 3 ministers 'attending cabinet'.Who is the next UK prime minister? ›
The Rt Hon Rishi Sunak MP
Rishi Sunak became Prime Minister on 25 October 2022. He was previously appointed Chancellor of the Exchequer from 13 February 2020 to 5 July 2022.
Situated in Downing Street in the City of Westminster, London, Number 10 is over 300 years old and contains approximately 100 rooms. A private residence for the prime minister's use occupies the third floor and there is a kitchen in the basement.What did British prime minister do? ›
The prime minister advises the sovereign on the exercise of much of the royal prerogative, chairs the Cabinet and selects its ministers. As modern prime ministers hold office by virtue of their ability to command the confidence of the House of Commons, they sit as members of Parliament.Can a president remove a Prime Minister? ›
The prime minister serves at 'the pleasure of the president', hence, a prime minister may remain in office indefinitely, so long as the president has confidence in him/her. However, a prime minister must have the confidence of Lok Sabha, the lower house of the Parliament of India.Can you kick out a Prime Minister? ›
The Governor-General may dismiss an incumbent Prime Minister and Cabinet, an individual Minister, or any other official who holds office "during the King's pleasure" or "during the Governor-General's pleasure".Can the Queen overrule the Prime Minister? ›
The monarch remains constitutionally empowered to exercise the royal prerogative against the advice of the prime minister or the cabinet, but in practice would likely only do so in emergencies or where existing precedent does not adequately apply to the circumstances in question.Who has been the best prime minister of England? ›
Winston Churchill is generally considered one of the greatest prime ministers for his leadership during the Second World War. Clement Attlee, who served as Labour Leader for over 20 years, is almost always very highly rated among prime ministers.
Just before Singh was to prove his majority in Lok Sabha, Indira Gandhi withdrew support to his government, and he resigned on 20 August 1979, after just 23 days, the only PM who has failed to face parliament.Who is the shortest serving prime minister? ›
Liz Truss is the shortest-serving former prime minister, resigning after seven weeks. The previous shortest time served was George Canning, who served for less than four months before dying in office. Margaret Thatcher is the longest serving prime minister in modern history serving for over 11 years.How many PMS has the Queen had? ›
Elizabeth had 179 individuals serve as her realms' prime ministers throughout her reign, the first new appointment being Dudley Senanayake as Prime Minister of Ceylon and the final being Liz Truss as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, whom she appointed only two days before her death; some of these individuals ...Who was the longest serving prime minister? ›
The prime minister with the longest single term was Robert Walpole, lasting 20 years and 315 days from 3 April 1721 until 11 February 1742. This is also longer than the accumulated terms of any other prime minister.