|Other names||Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson|
|Born||19th June 1964 |
New York City
|Political party||Conservative Party|
Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson (born 19th June 1964 in New York City; known in the family as Al, but professionally as Boris) was the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom from 2019 until 2022. He was appointed as the UK's head of government by Queen Elizabeth II on 24th July 2019 following the resignation of Theresa May. Under Johnson, the party won a general election in December 2019. He was leader of the Conservative Party until 7th July 2022 after a series of scandals resulted in increasing criticism from his own MPs, culminating in a wave of resignations from the government. He resigned on 6th September 2022 and was succeeded by Liz Truss.
Johnson was previously a journalist for the The Times and the Daily Telegraph, but was sacked from the former for making up a quote. His subsequent political career suffered a setback when he was sacked from the Conservatives' Opposition team by leader Michael Howard in 2004 for lying about an affair. He later became Mayor of London, then Foreign Secretary under May before resigning over Brexit.
Johnson has been married three times and had four children with his second wife, Marina Wheeler. Court documents show that he has at least one other child via an affair; he also has two other children with his third wife, Carrie Symonds.
While a student at the University of Oxford Johnson had been a member of the notorious Bullingdon Club. Although Johnson would later express regret over the vandalism and whoremongering he and his friends engaged in, he shocked critics by appointing club members, like Ewen Fergusson, to positions of trust, for which they seemed unqualified. In spite of those earlier criticisms Johnson appointed former club member Harry Mount to the House of Lords appointments commission on September 2, 2022 – mere days before he was scheduled to step down as Prime Minister.
Attitude to women
Johnson has claimed that there can be "absolutely no place" for misogyny in politics but his own attitude towards women has been openly questioned.
In his career as a journalist, his writings were "suffused with sexual imagery" and he wrote pieces about "babe magnet cars" and "hot totty" at a Labour Party Conference. More seriously, the Sunday Times journalist Charlotte Edwardes has alleged that Johnson groped her and another woman during a 2019 lunch hosted by the Spectator magazine. Johnson's father, a former Member of the European Parliament (MEP) has been similarly accused of groping both Conservative MP Caroline Nokes and journalist Ailbhe Rea of the New Statesman.
Privileges Committee investigation and Johnson's resignation as an MP
On 21 April 2022, a Parliamentary Privileges Committee was directed to investigate Johnson's behaviour with the primary task of ascertaining if he had lied to Parliament about parties and other excesses in Downing Street during the COVID-19 lockdowns. Johnson was interviewed by the committee, chaired by Harriet Harman, on 22 March 2023. He took an oath that he would tell the truth and insisted that he had not lied to Parliament.
He received the committee's draft report on 9 June 2023 and promptly announced his resignation from his membership of the Commons "with immediate effect". In fact, MPs have no legal power to resign; instead, two dummy jobs (the Chiltern Hundreds and the Manor of Northstead) are available to disqualify MPs, and he remained legally an MP until the legal formalities were completed on the 12th, effectively triggering a by-election in his constituency, though this too requires a legal formality, a resolution of the House of Commons; it is the custom of the House to pass such a resolution when asked by the previous MP's party, within a limit of a few months; this happened on 14 June, and the by-election is to be held on 20 July. Johnson issued a lengthy statement in which he claimed the Privileges Committee was a "kangaroo court" that had conducted a "witch-hunt" against him, notwithstanding the fact that four of its seven members are Tories. In the light of this statement, the committee assumed he was not intending to exercise his right to respond to the committee itself, and it met on the 12th to finalize its report. However, at 3 minutes to midnight that night, it received his formal reply from his lawyers, and had to meet again to consider this before making a final report to the House of Commons, which has the final say.
Johnson said he "did not lie" but the committee had "wilfully chosen to ignore the truth". But, even in this statement, there is a clear falsehood where Johnson bemoans the potential loss of "the biggest majority in almost half a century". The Tories under Johnson won the 2019 election with a majority of 80 seats and the first election after 1969 (half a century earlier) was in 1970 when the Tories had a majority of 30 seats. In elections since then, the Tories won by 144 in 1983 and by 102 in 1987; Labour under Tony Blair won by a massive 179 in 1987 and 167 in 2001. Therefore, in the half-century since 1969, Johnson's win was the fifth-biggest – 99 short of the actual biggest and 64 short of the biggest Tory win. Later in the statement, Johnson says he secured "the biggest majority for 40 years" and that is also untrue because the four 100-plus victories were after 1979, in which year Mrs Thatcher's majority of 44 was 36 less than Johnson's 80. Despite such falsehoods in his statement, Johnson still said the Committee's report "is riddled with inaccuracies".
Johnson's statement has been widely condemned. The deputy leader of the Liberal Democrats, Daisy Cooper, simply said: "Good riddance". Caroline Lucas of the Green Party ridiculed Johnson's "baseless accusations" against the committee who had "held him to account for treating us all with contempt (after) he lied about the most serious of things". Commenting on Johnson's career, she said:
Everyone knew Johnson was not fit to hold public office before he was even an MP.
Labour's deputy leader Angela Rayner responded to the news by saying:
As Johnson exits in disgrace, the British public are sick to the back teeth of this never ending Tory soap opera played out at their expense. After thirteen years of Conservative chaos, enough is enough.
In a televised interview next day (10 June), she called Johnson a "coward" who "doesn't accept responsibility for his own actions". Johnson had quit before publication of the committee's report on 12 June. In that respect, a spokesman for the committee asserted that they had "followed the procedures and the mandate of the House at all times and would continue to do so". The committee would meet on Monday (12th) to "conclude the inquiry and to publish its report promptly". As for Johnson, the spokesman said he "has departed from the processes of the House and has impugned the integrity of the House by his statement".
Elsewhere, former Conservative minister Anna Soubry described Johnson as the "worst PM ever... who destroys everything he touches". David Lammy spoke in a similar vein by saying: "Good riddance please to the most self-serving, venal, divisive and dishonest Prime Minister of my lifetime. You will forever be remembered as the Prime Minister who thought himself above the laws he created for everyone else".
On BBC News, political editor Chris Mason picked up Angela Rayner's "soap opera" comment and said: "2022 was defined, politically, by a soap opera of Conservative squabbling". As regards Johnson's statement, Mr Mason said he was someone "with a life-long knack for throwing stones and grabbing attention, (once again) doing just that".
Privileges Committee report
The Privileges Committee delivered their final report on 15 June 2023, which they had agreed without a vote. A summary can be found at , the full report at . The full report includes the full text of all Johnson's statements in the matter up to that time.
They concluded that Johnson deliberately misled the House of Commons, committing a serious contempt. While two members of the commission wanted Johnson to be expelled from Parliament, the majority view was that he should be suspended for 90 days (it is normal to suspend an MP for ten days in such cases). However, as Johnson had already resigned as an MP, the suspension could not be actioned; two of the Opposition members of the committee wanted summary expulsion but the four Conservative members agreed on a 90 day suspension. Harriet Harman as chairwoman had a casting vote and did not commit herself.
Emphasising the scale of the recommended suspension period, Chris Mason said: "Had he still been an MP, a suggested suspension of 10 days would have been enough to potentially prompt a by election. They suggested 90 days. 90. Wow. And that’s not the end of it". In fact the only longer suspension on record is of Keith Vaz for 6 months.
The report says Johnson deliberately misled the House, the Committee, impugned the Committee and was "complicit in the campaign of abuse and attempted intimidation of the Committee". The members recommended that he "should not be entitled to a former Member's pass". (Recommended sanctions are subject to a Commons vote.)
The House of Commons discussed the report on the 19th; the full debate can be found at . At the end, the House voted 354 to 7 to approve the report.
- Independent: 'Boris Johnson: The most infamous lies and untruths by the Conservative leadership candidate'. 25th May 2019.
- Guardian: 'Boris Johnson sacked by Tories over private life'. 14th November 2004.
- 'AAA v Associated Newspapers Ltd (2013) EWCA Civ 554 (20 May 2013)'; Independent: 'Boris Johnson: How many children does the Prime Minister have?'. 29th April 2020.
- Matthew Weaver, Henry Dyer. Boris Johnson gives peerages job to author of book on his ‘wit and wisdom’, The Guardian, 2022-09-02. Retrieved on 2022-09-07. “Boris Johnson has sparked fresh accusations of cronyism after choosing the author of a book on his 'wit and wisdom' to help oversee the appointment of new peers to the House of Lords.” mirror
- Bienkov, Adam. How Johnson has Spread and Benefitted From Deeply Sexist Attitudes in Politics, Byline Times, 29 April 2022.
- Burford, Rachael. Johnson's father accused of groping senior Tory MP Caroline Nokes and journalist Ailbhe Rea, Evening Standard, 16 November 2021.
- Resignation statement in full, BBC News, 9 June 2023.
- Andrew Sparrow and colleagues. Johnson resigns as MP, The Guardian, 9/10 June 2023.
- BBC Breakfast on Twitter. 10 June 2023.
- Chris Mason. Johnson's ghost haunts Rishi Sunak, BBC News, 10 June 2023.