Theresa May

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
The Right Honourable
Theresa May
Theresa May UK Home Office (cropped).jpg
Prime Minister of the United Kingdom
Assumed office
13 July 2016
Monarch Elizabeth II
Preceded by David Cameron
Leader of the Conservative Party
Assumed office
11 July 2016
Preceded by David Cameron
Home Secretary
In office
12 May 2010 – 13 July 2016
Prime Minister David Cameron
Preceded by Alan Johnson
Succeeded by Amber Rudd
Minister for Women and Equalities
In office
12 May 2010 – 4 September 2012
Prime Minister David Cameron
Preceded by Harriet Harman
Succeeded by Maria Miller
Chair of the Conservative Party
In office
23 July 2002 – 6 November 2003
Leader Iain Duncan Smith
Preceded by David Davis
Succeeded by Liam Fox
The Lord Saatchi
Member of Parliament
for Maidenhead
Assumed office
1 May 1997
Preceded by Constituency established
Majority 29,059 (54.0%)
Personal details
Born Theresa Mary Brasier
1 October 1956 (age 59)
Eastbourne, England, UK
Political party Conservative
Spouse(s) Philip May (m. 1980)
Residence 10 Downing Street
Alma mater St Hugh’s College, Oxford
Religion Anglicanism[1][2]
Website Government website

Theresa Mary May (née Brasier; born 1 October 1956) is the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom and Leader of the Conservative Party. She has been the Member of Parliament (MP) for Maidenhead since 1997. May identifies as a One-Nation Conservative and is characterised as a liberal conservative.

The daughter of a vicar, May grew up in Oxfordshire. From 1977 until 1983, she worked for the Bank of England, and from 1985 until 1997 at theAssociation for Payment Clearing Services, also serving as a councillor for theLondon Borough of Merton‘s Durnsford Ward. After unsuccessful attempts to be elected to the House of Commons in 1992 and 1994, she was elected MP for Maidenhead in the 1997 general election. May served in a number of roles in the Shadow Cabinets of William Hague, Iain Duncan Smith, Michael Howard, and David Cameron, including Shadow Leader of the House of Commons and Shadow Work and Pensions Secretary. She was also theChairman of the Conservative Party from 2002 until 2003.

After the formation of the Coalition Government following the 2010 general election, May was appointed Home Secretary and Minister for Women and Equalities, giving up the latter role in 2012. Reappointed after the Conservative victory in the 2015 general election, she went on to become the longest-serving Home Secretary since James Chuter Ede over 60 years previously, pursuing reform of the police, taking a harder line on drug policy and introducing restrictions on immigration.[3]

Following the resignation of David Cameron on 24 June 2016, May announced her candidacy for the leadership of the Conservative Party and quickly emerged as the front-runner. She won the first ballot of Conservative MPs on 5 July by a significant margin, and two days later won the votes of 199 MPs, going forward to face a vote of Conservative Party members in a contest withAndrea Leadsom. Leadsom’s withdrawal from the election on 11 July led to May’s appointment as leader the same day. She was appointed Prime Minister two days later.

Early life and education

Born on 1 October 1956 in Eastbourne, Sussex, May is the only child of Zaidee Mary (née Barnes; 1928–1982) and Hubert Brasier (1917–1981).[4]Her father was a Church of England clergyman who was chaplain of an Eastbourne hospital. He later became vicar of Enstone with Heythrop and finally of St Mary’s at Wheatley, to the east of Oxford.[5][6][7][8]

The Church of St. Mary the Virgin, Wheatley, where May’s father was vicar and where May married.[9][10]

May was educated primarily in the state sector but with a short spell at an independent Catholic school. She initially attended Heythrop Primary School, a state school in Heythrop, followed by St. Juliana’s Convent School for Girls, aRoman Catholic independent school in Begbroke, which closed in 1984.[11][12][13]

At the age of 13, May won a place at the former Holton Park Girls’ Grammar School, a state school in Wheatley. During her time as a pupil, the Oxfordshire education system was reorganised and the school became the new Wheatley Park Comprehensive School.[11][14] May then went to the University of Oxfordwhere she studied geography at St Hugh’s College, graduating with a second class BA degree in 1977.[15]

Early career

Between 1977 and 1983 May worked at the Bank of England, and from 1985 to 1997 as a financial consultant and senior advisor in International Affairs at the Association for Payment Clearing Services.[16] Both May’s parents died during this period, her father in a car accident in 1981 and her mother of multiple sclerosis the year after.[17][18]

May served as a councillor for the London Borough of Merton from 1986 to 1994, where she was Chairman of Education (1988–90) and Deputy Group Leader and Housing Spokesman (1992–94). In the 1992 general election May stood unsuccessfully for the seat of North West Durham and failed to win the1994 Barking by-election. In the 1997 general election, May was elected as the Conservative MP for Maidenhead.[16]

Early political career

Having entered Parliament, May became a member of William Hague‘s front-benchOpposition team, as Shadow Spokesman for Schools, Disabled People and Women (1998 – June 1999). She became the first of the 1997 MPs to enter the Shadow Cabinet when in 1999 she was appointed Shadow Education and Employment Secretary. After the 2001 election the new Conservative leader Iain Duncan Smithkept her in the Shadow Cabinet, moving her to the Transport portfolio.

May was appointed the first female Chairman of the Conservative Party in July 2002. During her speech at the 2002 Conservative Party Conference, she explained why, in her view, her party must change: “you know what people call us: theNasty Party“.[19][20] In 2003, she was sworn of the Privy Council and appointed Shadow Secretary of State for Transportafter Michael Howard‘s election as Conservative Party and Opposition Leader in November that year.[21]

In June 2004 she was moved to become Shadow Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport. David Cameronappointed her Shadow Leader of the House of Commons in December 2005 after his accession to the leadership. In January 2009 May was made Shadow Secretary of State for Work and Pensions.

On 6 May 2010, May was re-elected MP for Maidenhead with an increased majority of 16,769 – 60 per cent of the vote. This followed an earlier failed attempt to unseat her in 2005 as one of the Liberal Democrats’ leading “decapitation-strategy” targets.[22]

Home Secretary

May with then Prime Minister, David Cameron, May 2010

On 12 May 2010, when May was appointed Home Secretary and Minister for Women and Equality by Prime Minister David Cameron as part of his first Cabinet, she became the fourth woman to hold one of the British Great Offices of State, after (in order of seniority)Margaret Thatcher (Prime Minister), Margaret Beckett (Foreign Secretary) and Jacqui Smith(Home Secretary).[23] As Home Secretary, May is also a member of the National Security Council.[24] She is the longest-serving Home Secretary for over 60 years, since James Chuter Ede who served over six years and two months from August 1945 to October 1951. May’s appointment as Home Secretary was somewhat unexpected, as Chris Grayling had served as shadow Home Secretary in opposition.[25][26]

May’s debut as Home Secretary involved overturning several of the previous Labour Government’s measures on data collection and surveillance in England and Wales. By way of a Government Bill which became the Identity Documents Act 2010, she brought about the abolition of the Labour Government’s National Identity Card and database scheme[27][28]and reformed the regulations on the retention of DNA samples for suspects and controls on the use of CCTV cameras. On 20 May 2010, May announced the adjournment of the deportation to the United States of alleged computer hacker Gary McKinnon.[29] She also suspended the registration scheme for carers of children and vulnerable people, with May saying that the measures were “draconian. You were assumed to be guilty until you were proven innocent, and told you were able to work with children.”[30][31]

On 4 August 2010 it was reported that May was scrapping the former Labour Government’s proposed “go orders” scheme to protect women from domestic violence by banning abusers from the victim’s home.[32] This was followed on 6 August 2010 by the closure of the previous government’s “ContactPoint” database of 11 million under-18-year-olds designed to protect children in the wake of the Victoria Climbié child abuse scandal.[33]

On 2 June 2010, May faced her first major national security incident as Home Secretary with the Cumbria shootings.[34][35]She delivered her first major speech in the House of Commons as Home Secretary in a statement on this incident,[36] later visiting the victims with the Prime Minister.[37][38] Also in June 2010, May banned the Indian Muslim preacher Zakir Naikfrom entering the United Kingdom.[39] According to the Telegraph, a Home Office official who disagreed with this decision was suspended.[40] In late June 2010, May announced plans for a temporary cap on UK visas for non-EU migrants.[41] The move raised concerns about the impact on the British economy.[42]

May speaking at the Ukraine Forum on Asset Recovery in 2014

In August 2013 May supported the detention of David Miranda, partner of Guardianjournalist Glenn Greenwald under the Terrorism Act 2000, saying that critics of the Metropolitan Police action needed to “think about what they are condoning”.[43] Lib Dem peer and former Director of Public Prosecutions Ken Macdonald accused May of an “ugly and unhelpful” attempt to implicate those who were concerned about the police action of “condoning terrorism”.[43] The High Court subsequently acknowledged there were “indirect implications for press freedom” but ruled the detention legal.[44]

May also championed legislation popularly dubbed the Snooper’s Charter, requiring internet and mobile service providers to keep records of internet usage, voice calls, messages and email for up to a year in case police requested access to the records whilst investigating a crime. The Liberal Democrats had blocked the first attempt,[45] but after the Conservative Party obtained a majority in the 2015 general election May announced a new Draft Investigatory Powers Bill similar to the Draft Communications Data Bill, although with more limited powers and additional oversight.[46][47]

Police and crime

Speaking at the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO) conference on 29 June 2010, May announced radical cuts to the Home Office budget, likely to lead to a reduction in police numbers.[48] In July 2010, May presented the House of Commons with proposals for a fundamental review of the previous Labour government’s security and counter-terrorism legislation, including “stop and search” powers, and her intention to review the 28-day limit on detaining terrorist suspects without charge.[49][50]

On 26 July 2010, May announced a package of reforms to policing in England and Wales in the House of Commons.[51]The previous Labour Government’s central crime agency, Soca (Serious Organised Crime Agency), was to be replaced by a new National Crime Agency. In common with the Conservative Party 2010 general election manifesto’s flagship proposal for a “Big Society” based on voluntary action, May also proposed increasing the role of civilian “reservists” for crime control. The reforms were rejected by the Opposition Labour Party.[51]

Following the actions of some members of Black Bloc in vandalising allegedly tax-avoiding shops and businesses on the day of 26 March TUC march, the Home Secretary unveiled reforms[52] curbing the right to protest, including giving police extra powers to remove masked individuals and to police social networking sites to prevent illegal protest without police consent or notification.[53]

In July 2013, May welcomed the fact that crime had fallen by more than ten percent under the coalition government, while still being able to make savings. She said that this was partly due to the government removing red tape and scrapping targets to allow the police to concentrate on crime fighting.[54]

In 2014, May delivered a well-known speech to the Police Federation, in which she criticised many aspects of the culture of the police force.[55] In the speech, she said:

When you remember the list of recent revelations about police misconduct, it is not enough to mouth platitudes about “a few bad apples”. The problem might lie with a minority of officers, but it is still a significant problem, and a problem that needs to be addressed … according to one survey carried out recently, only 42% of black people from a Caribbean background trust the police. That is simply not sustainable … I will soon publish proposals to strengthen the protections available to whistleblowers in the police. I am creating a new criminal offence of police corruption. And I am determined that the use of stop and search must come down, become more targeted and lead to more arrests.[56]

On 9 December 2010, in the wake of violent student demonstrations in central London against increases to higher-education tuition fees, May praised the actions of the police in controlling the demonstrations but was described by The Daily Telegraph as “under growing political pressure” due to her handling of the protests.[57][58]

In December 2010, May declared that deployment of water cannon by police forces in mainland Britain was an operational decision which had been “resisted until now by senior police officers.”[59] She rejected their use following the widespread rioting in Summer 2011 and said: “the way we police in Britain is not through use of water cannon. The way we police in Britain is through consent of communities.” May said: “I condemn utterly the violence in Tottenham…. Such disregard for public safety and property will not be tolerated, and the Metropolitan Police have my full support in restoring order.”[60]

In the aftermath of the riots May urged the identification of as many as possible of the young criminals involved. She said: “when I was in Manchester last week, the issue was raised to me about the anonymity of juveniles who are found guilty of crimes of this sort. The Crown Prosecution Service is to order prosecutors to apply for anonymity to be lifted in any youth case they think is in the public interest. The law currently protects the identity of any suspect under the age of 18, even if they are convicted, but it also allows for an application to have such restrictions lifted, if deemed appropriate.” May added that “what I’ve asked for is that CPS guidance should go to prosecutors to say that where possible, they should be asking for the anonymity of juveniles who are found guilty of criminal activity to be lifted.”[61]

Anti-social behaviour

On 28 July 2010, May proposed to review the previous Labour Government’s anti-social behaviour legislation signalling the abolition of the “Anti-Social Behaviour Order” (ASBO). She identified the policy’s high level of failure with almost half of ASBOs breached between 2000 and 2008, leading to “fast-track” criminal convictions. May proposed a less punitive, community-based approach to tackling social disorder. May suggested that anti-social behaviour policy “must be turned on its head”, reversing the ASBO’s role as the flagship crime control policy legislation under Labour.[62][63] Former Labour Home Secretaries David Blunkett (who introduced ASBOs) and Alan Johnson expressed their disapproval of the proposals.[64]

Drug policy

Khat bundles

In July 2013, May decided to ban the stimulant khat, against the advice of theAdvisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs (ACMD). The council reached the conclusion that there was “insufficient evidence” it caused health problems.[65]Explaining the change in the classification May said: “The decision to bring khat under control is finely balanced and takes into account the expert scientific advice and these broader concerns”, and pointed out that the product had already been banned in the majority of other EU member states, as well as most of the G8 countries including Canada and the US.[66] A report on khat use by the ACMD published in January 2013 had noted the product had been associated with “acute psychotic episodes”, “chronic liver disease” and family breakdown. However, it concluded that there is no risk of harm for most users, and recommended that khat remain uncontrolled due to lack of evidence for these associations.[67]

Liberal Democrat minister Norman Baker accused May of suppressing proposals to treat rather than prosecute minor drug offenders from a report into drug policy commissioned by the Home Office.[68][69] The Home Office denied that its officials had considered this as part of their strategy. Baker cited difficulties in working with May as the reason for his resignation from the Home Office in the run-up to the 2015 General Election.[70][71][72][73]


In 2010, May promised to bring the level of net migration down to less than 100,000.[74] In February 2015, The Independentreported, “The Office for National Statistics (ONS) announced a net flow of 298,000 migrants to the UK in the 12 months to September 2014—up from 210,000 in the previous year.”[75] In total, 624,000 people migrated to the UK in the year ending September 2014 and 327,000 left in the same period. Statistics showed “significant increases in migration among both non-EU citizens – up 49,000 to 292,000 – and EU citizens, which rose by 43,000 to 251,000.”[75]

May rejected the European Union’s proposal of compulsory refugee quotas.[76] She said that it was important to help people living in war-zone regions and refugee camps but “not the ones who are strong and rich enough to come to Europe”.[77] In May 2016, The Daily Telegraph reported that she had tried to save £4m by rejecting an intelligence project to use aircraft surveillance to detect illegal immigrant boats.[78]

Family migration

European Economic Area members in blue and green

On 11 June 2012, May, as Home Secretary, announced to Parliament that new restrictions would be introduced, intended to reduce the number of non-European Economic Area family migrants. The changes were mostly intended to apply to new applicants after 9 July 2012.[79] The new rules came into effect from 9 July 2012 allowing only those British citizens earning more than £18,600 to bring their spouse or their child to live with them in the UK. This figure would rise significantly in cases where visa applications are also made for children. They also increased the current two-year probationary period for partners to five years. The rules also prevent any adult and elderly dependents from settling in the UK unless they can demonstrate that, as a result of age, illness or disability, they require a level of long-term personal care that can only be provided by a relative in the UK.[80]

An MP, who was concerned about this, addressed May in Parliament as to whether she had examined the impact on communities and families on modest incomes, but he received no direct response.[81] Liberty concluded that the new rules showed scant regard to the impact they would have on genuine families.[82] The All-Party Parliamentary Group on Migration conducted an evidence based inquiry into the impact of the rules and concluded in their report that the rules were causing very young children to be separated from their parents and could exile British citizens from the UK.[83]

Deportation decisions

May, David Cameron and MalaysianPrime Minister Najib Razak, 14 July 2011

At the Conservative Party Conference on 4 October 2011, while arguing that the Human Rights Act needed to be amended, May gave the example of a foreign national who the Courts ruled was allowed to remain in the UK, “because—and I am not making this up—he had a pet cat”. In response, the Royal Courts of Justice issued a statement, denying that this was the reason for the tribunal’s decision in that case, and stating that the real reason was that he was in a genuine relationship with a British partner, and owning a pet cat was simply one of many pieces of evidence given to show that the relationship was “genuine”. The Home Office had failed to apply its own rules for dealing with unmarried partners of people settled in the UK.[84] Amnesty International said May’s comments only fuelled “myths and misconceptions” about the Human Rights Act and Justice Secretary Kenneth Clarkesubsequently called May’s comments “laughable and childlike.”[85][86]

In June 2012, May was found in contempt of court by Judge Barry Cotter, and stood accused of “totally unacceptable and regrettable behaviour”, being said to have shown complete disregard for a legal agreement to free an Algerian from a UK Immigration Detention Centre. As she eventually allowed the prisoner to be freed, May avoided further sanctions including fines or imprisonment.[87][88]

May responded to a Supreme Court decision in November 2013 to overturn her predecessor Jacqui Smith‘s revocation of Iraqi-born terror suspect Al Jedda’s British citizenship by ordering it to be revoked for a second time, making him the first person to be stripped twice of British citizenship.[89][90][91]

May was accused by Lord Roberts of being willing to allow someone to die “to score a political point” over the deportation of mentally ill Nigerian man Isa Muazu.[92] According to Muazu’s solicitor, May had arranged for the asylum seeker, who was said to be “near death” after a 100-day hunger strike, to be deported by a chartered private jet.[92] To strengthen the Home Office’s tough stance an “end of life’ plan was reportedly offered to Muazu, who was one of a number of hunger strikers at the Harmondsworth Immigration Removal Centre.[93]

Abu Qatada deportation

Abu Qatada boards a plane for deportation to Jordan

On 7 July 2013, Abu Qatada, a radical cleric arrested in 2002, was deported toJordan after a decade-long battle that had cost the nation £1.7 million in legal fees,[94] and numerous prior Home Secretaries had been unable to resolve.[95] The deportation was the result of a treaty negotiated by May in April 2013, under which Jordan agreed to give Qatada a fair trial, and to refrain from torturing him.[96]

May has frequently pointed to Qatada’s deportation as a triumph, guaranteeing in September 2013 that “he will not be returning to the UK”, and declaring in her 2016 leadership campaign announcement that she was told that she “couldn’t deport Abu Qatada” but that she “flew to Jordan and negotiated the treaty that got him out of Britain for good”.[97][98] The Qatada deportation also shaped May’s views on theEuropean Convention on Human Rights and European Court of Human Rights, saying that they had “moved the goalposts” and had a “crazy interpretation of our human rights laws”, as a result, May has since campaigned against the institutions, saying that British withdrawal from them should be considered.[94]

Passport backlog

In mid 2014, the Passport Office faced a backlog in developing processing passport applications, with around 30,000 applications hit by delays.[99] David Cameron suggested this had come about due to the Passport Office’s receiving an “above normal” 300,000-rise in applications.[100] It was revealed, however, that May had been warned the year before, in July 2013, that a surge of 350,000 extra applications could occur owing to the closure of processing overseas under Chancellor Osborne’s programme of cuts.[101] Around £674,000 was paid to staff who helped clear the backlog.[102]

Birmingham schools row

In June 2014, an inflamed public argument arose between Home Office and Education Ministers about responsibility foralleged extremism in Birmingham schools.[103][104] Prime Minister David Cameron intervened to resolve the row, insisting that May sack her Special Advisor Fiona Cunningham (now Hill) for releasing on May’s website a confidential letter to May’s colleagues,[105] and that Michael Gove, the Education Secretary, apologise to the Home Office’s head of Security and Counter-Terrorism, Charles Farr, for uncomplimentary briefings of him appearing on the front page of The Times.[106][107]

Minister for Women and Equality

May and Justine Greening speaking at Youth For Change, 19 July 2014

May held the office of Minister for Women and Equality in parallel to her office of Home Secretary from 2010 to September 2012, when this role was taken overMaria Miller.[108]

May’s appointment as Minister for Women and Equality was criticised by some members of the LGBT rights movement,[109] because she had voted against lowering the age of consent (in 1998) and against greater adoption rights for homosexuals (in 2002), though she had voted in favour of civil partnerships.[110][111]May later stated, during an appearance on the BBC’s Question Time, that she had “changed her mind” on gay adoption.[112] Writing for PinkNews in June 2010, May clarified her proposals for improving LGBT rights including measures to tackle homophobia in sport, advocating British society’s need for “cultural change”.[113]

On 2 July 2010, May stated she would be supporting the previous Labour Government’s Anti-Discrimination Laws enshrined in the Equality Act 2010 despite having opposed it before.[114] The Equality Act came into effect in England, Wales and Scotland on 1 October 2010.[115] She did however announce that a clause she dubbed “Harman‘s Law”[116]which would have required public bodies to consider how they can reduce socio-economic inequalities when making decisions about spending and services[117] would be scrapped on the grounds that it was “unworkable”.[118]

Support for same-sex marriage

In May 2012, May expressed support for the introduction of same-sex marriage by recording a video for the Out4Marriagecampaign.[119] May became one of the first high-profile Conservative MPs to pledge personal support for same-sex marriage. She explained, “I believe if two people care for each other, if they love each other, if they want to commit to each other… then they should be able to get married and marriage should be for everyone”.[120]

Prime Minister

Further information: May ministry

2016 Conservative leadership election

On 30 June 2016, May announced her candidacy for the leadership of the Conservative Party to replace David Cameron, who resigned after the outcome of the European Union membership referendum. May emphasised the need for unity within the party regardless of positions about leaving the EU and said she could bring “strong leadership” and a “positive vision” for the country’s future. Despite having backed a vote to remain in the EU, she insisted that there would be no second referendum, saying: “The campaign was fought… and the public gave their verdict. There must be no attempts to remain inside the EU, no attempts to rejoin it through the back door…. Brexit means Brexit”, she said, adding that Article 50 (the formal notification of Britain’s exit from the EU) should not be filed until the end of 2016. On the issue of immigration, she agreed that there was a need to regain more control of the numbers of people who come to Britain from Europe. Under questioning she conceded that it would not be possible totally to eliminate immigration to the UK.

In opinion polls May was regarded as the favourite choice among the public; in a Sky Data Snap Poll on 30 June, 47% of people said that May was their preferred Conservative candidate to be prime minister.[121] May’s supporters included a number of Cabinet ministers, such as Amber Rudd, Chris Grayling, Justine Greening, Jeremy Hunt, Michael Fallon andPatrick McLoughlin.[122]

May won the first round of voting on 5 July, receiving support from 165 MPs, while Andrea Leadsom received 66 votes andMichael Gove collected 48. According to The Guardian, May was “almost certain to be among the final two candidates.”[123]After the results were announced, May said she was “pleased” and “grateful” for the support of other MPs and confirmed that she wanted to unite the party and the UK, to negotiate the “best possible deal as we leave the EU”, and to “make Britain work for everyone”.[124] The two candidates with the fewest votes, Liam Fox and Stephen Crabb, immediately announced their support for May.[125] May came in first place in the second ballot on 7 July with an overwhelming majority of 199 MPs against 84 for Leadsom and 46 for Gove, who was eliminated.[126] Afterwards, May stated that she was delighted with her support among MPs, and she progressed to a vote of the Conservative Party membership against Leadsom[127]

On 11 July, Leadsom announced her withdrawal from the leadership contest hours after May had made her first campaign speech, citing her lack of support amongst Conservative MPs as being a hindrance to becoming a credible prime minister.[128] As the sole remaining candidate, May was declared Leader of the Conservative Party that evening.[129][130]Soon after she became Leader of the Conservative Party by default on 11 July 2016, David Cameron announced that he would tender his resignation as prime minister two days later, making May the UK’s second female Prime Minister.

Early days

After being appointed by Queen Elizabeth II on 13 July 2016, May became the United Kingdom’s second female Prime Minister,[131] after Margaret Thatcher, and the first female UK Prime Minister of the 21st century.[132][133] May told the media on 12 July 2016 that she was “honoured and humbled” to be the party leader and to become prime minister.

Responding to some calls for a general election (reported by the news media) to confirm her mandate, “sources close to Mrs May” said there would be no such election, according to the BBC.[134] In a speech after her appointment, May emphasized the term Unionist in the name of the Conservative Party (UK), reminding all of “the precious, precious bond between England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.”[135] By 15 July 2016, May had traveled to Edinburgh, Scotland to meet with first minister Nicola Sturgeon, to reinforce the bond between Scotland and the rest of the country. “I’m coming here to show my commitment to preserving this special union that has endured for centuries,” she explained.[136] After the meeting at Bute House, May offered the following comment about Scotland’s role in the negotiations about the UK’s exit from the EU. “I’m willing to listen to options and I’ve been very clear with the first minister today that I want the Scottish government to be fully engaged in our discussion.”[137]

May also appointed new Cabinet members, in “one of the most sweeping government reshuffles for decades”[138] described as “a brutal cull” by The Telegraph since several prominent members, including six of Cameron’s ministers were “sacked” (removed from their posts.)[139] The early appointments were interpreted both as an effort to reunite the Conservative Party in the wake of the UK’s vote to leave the European Union, and as “a shift to the right,” according to The Guardian.[140] ITV’s Political Editor Robert Peston made the following comment: “Her rhetoric is more left-wing than Cameron’s was, her cabinet is more right wing than his was.”[141]

Although May had supported remaining in the EU, she appointed prominent advocates of Brexit to key cabinet positions responsible for negotiating the United Kingdom withdrawal from the European Union, including Foreign Secretary, Brexit Secretary, and International Trade Secretary.[142][136] Overall, of the 25 members of the May ministry (including May), seven supported Brexit, while the other 18 supported Remain.[140]

May appointed former Mayor of London Boris Johnson to Foreign Secretary, former Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change Amber Rudd to Home Secretary, and former Shadow Home Secretary David Davis to the newly-created office of “Brexit Secretary.”[143] Liam Fox and Philip Hammond, both of whom had previously served as Secretary of State for Defence (Fox in 2010–11 and Hammond in 2011–14), with Hammond having served as Foreign Secretary in 2014–16, were appointed to the newly-created office of International Trade Secretary and Chancellor of the Exchequer, respectively.[144][145] Elizabeth Truss was made Justice Secretary, the “first female Lord Chancellor in the thousand-year history of the role”.[146] Andrea Leadsom, who was energy minister and May’s primary competitor for party leader, was made the new Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs.[147] As Downing Street Chief of Staff May appointed jointly Fiona Hill and Nick Timothy on 14 July.[148] Both had been political advisers to her at the Home Office before both working outside the government for a brief period before coming to work on her leadership campaign.[149][150]

May abolished the Department for Energy and Climate Change in a move criticised by Greenpeace which expressed concern the new government failed to see the threat from climate change, by Friends of the Earth which said climate change is happening now while the new government lowers its priority. The move is also widely criticised by other more impartial people and groups.[who?] Climate change is included in the scope of a new Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy.[151]

Political ideology

May has identified herself with the One Nation Conservative position within her party.[152]

Describing her as a liberal conservative, the Financial Times characterised May as a “non-ideological politician with a ruthless streak who gets on with the job”, in doing so comparing her to German Chancellor Angela Merkel.[153]

In The Independent, Rebecca Glover of the Policy Innovation Research Unit contrasted May to Boris Johnson, claiming that she was “staunchly more conservative, more anti-immigration, and more isolationist” than he.[154]

May supported the UK remaining in the EU during the 2016 referendum campaign, but did not campaign extensively in the referendum and criticised aspects of the EU in a speech.[155][156] It was speculated by political journalists that May had sought to minimise her involvement in the debate to strengthen her position as a future candidate for the Conservative party leadership.[157]

During her leadership campaign, May said that “We need an economy that works for everyone”, pledging to crack down on executive pay by making shareholders’ votes binding rather than advisory and to put workers onto company boards,[158]policies that The Guardian describes as going further than the Labour Party’s 2015 general election manifesto.[159]

After she became Prime Minister, May’s first speech espoused the left, with a promise to combat the “burning injustice” in British society and create a union “between all of our citizens” and promising to be an advocate for the “ordinary working-class family” and not for the affluent in the UK. “The government I lead will be driven not by the interests of the privileged few but by yours. We will do everything we can to give you more control over your lives. … When we take the big calls, we’ll think not of the powerful, but you. When we pass new laws we’ll listen not to the mighty, but to you. When it comes to taxes we’ll prioritise not the wealthy but you.”[160]

Personal life

May has been married to Philip May, an investment banker currently employed by Capital International, since 6 September 1980; the couple have no children.[161] May has stated her regret that, for health reasons, she has not been able to have children with her husband, saying in one interview that, “You look at families all the time and you see there is something there that you don’t have”.[162][163]

May is a member of the Church of England and regularly worships at church on Sunday.[1][2][164] The daughter of an Anglican priest, Reverend Hubert Brasier, May has said that her Christian faith “is part of me. It is part of who I am and therefore how I approach things”.[165]

May is known for a love of fashion and in particular distinctive shoes, wearing leopard-print shoes at her ‘Nasty Party‘ speech in 2002, as well as her final Cabinet meeting as Home Secretary in 2016. On Desert Island Discs in 2014 she chose a subscription to Vogue as her luxury item.[166] However she has been critical of the media focusing on her fashion instead of her achievements as a politician.[167]

May was diagnosed with diabetes mellitus of type 1 in November 2012. She is treated with daily insulin injections.[168]

Since coming into prominence as a front-bench politician, May’s public image has divided media opinion, especially from some in the traditionalist right-wing press.[169] Commenting on May’s debut as Home Secretary, Anne Perkins of The Guardian observed that “she’ll be nobody’s stooge”,[170] while Cristina Odone of The Daily Telegraph predicted her to be “the rising star” of the Coalition Government.[171] Allegra Stratton, then with The Guardian, praised May as showing managerial acumen.[172]

Her parliamentary expenses have been “modest” in recent years (about £15,000 from 2005 to 2009).[173]

Activism and awards

Prior to and since her appointment to Government, May actively supports a variety of campaigns on policy issues in her constituency and at the national level of politics. She has spoken at the Fawcett Society promoting the cross-party issue of gender equality. May was nominated as one of the Society’s Inspiring Women of 2006.[174]

She is the Patron of Reading University Conservative Association, the largest political student group in Berkshire (the county of her Maidenhead constituency).[175] In February 2013, BBC Radio 4‘s Woman’s Hour described her as Britain’s second-most powerful woman after Queen Elizabeth II.[176]

Titles and honours


Styles of
Theresa May
Royal Coat of Arms of the United Kingdom (HM Government).svg
Reference style The Prime Minister
Spoken style Prime Minister
Alternative style Mrs May or Ma’am
  • Miss Theresa Brasier (1956–1980)
  • Mrs Philip May (1980–1997)
  • Theresa May MP (1997–2003)
  • The Rt Hon Theresa May MP (2003–present)

Boris Johnson

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Boris Johnson
Boris Johnson FCA.jpg
Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs
Assumed office
13 July 2016
Prime Minister Theresa May
Preceded by Philip Hammond
2nd Mayor of London
In office
4 May 2008 – 9 May 2016
Deputy 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 10,695 (23.9%)
Member of Parliament
for Henley
In office
9 June 2001 – 4 June 2008
Preceded by Michael Heseltine
Succeeded by John Howell
Personal details
Born Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson
19 June 1964 (age 52)
New York City, New York, U.S.
Political party Conservative
Spouse(s) Allegra Mostyn-Owen (1987–1993)
Marina Wheeler (1993–present)
Children 5
Alma mater Balliol College, Oxford
Religion Anglicanism
Website Commons website

Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson (born 19 June 1964) is a Britishpolitician, popular historian, author, and journalist. He has been Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs since 13 July 2016 and has served as the Member of Parliament (MP) for Uxbridge and South Ruislipsince 2015. He had previously served as MP for Henley from 2001 until 2008and as Mayor of London from 2008 until 2016. A member of the Conservative Party, Johnson identifies as a One-Nation Conservative and has been associated with both economically liberal and socially liberal policies.

Born in New York City to wealthy upper-class English parents, Johnson was educated at the European School of Brussels, Ashdown House School, andEton College. He studied Classics at Balliol College, Oxford, where he was elected president of the Oxford Union in 1986. Beginning his career in journalism at The Times, he later became The Daily Telegraphs Brussels correspondent, with his articles exerting a strong influence on growingEurosceptic sentiment among the British right-wing. He was assistant editor from 1994 to 1999 before taking the editorship of The Spectator from 1999 to 2005. Joining the Conservatives, he was elected MP for Henley in 2001, and under Conservative leaders Michael Howard and David Cameron he served in the Shadow Cabinet. Mostly adhering to the Conservative party line, he nevertheless adopted a more socially liberal stance on issues like LGBT rightsin parliamentary votes. Making regular television appearances, writing books, and remaining active in journalism, Johnson became one of the most conspicuous politicians in Britain.

Selected as Conservative candidate for the London mayoral election of 2008, Johnson defeated Labour incumbent Ken Livingstone and resigned his seat in parliament. During his first term as mayor, he banned alcohol consumption on public transport, championed London’s financial sector, and introduced theNew Routemaster buses, cycle hire scheme, and Thames cable-car. In 2012, he was re-elected mayor, again defeating Livingstone; during his second term he oversaw the 2012 Summer Olympics. In 2015 he was elected MP for Uxbridge and South Ruislip, stepping down as mayor the following year and becoming a prominent figure in the successful Vote Leave campaign towithdraw the United Kingdom from the European Union. In July 2016, Johnson was appointed Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs by the incoming Prime Minister, Theresa May.

Johnson is a controversial figure in British politics and journalism. Supporters have praised him as an entertaining, humorous, and popular figure with appeal beyond traditional Conservative voters. Conversely, he has been criticised by figures on both the left and right, accused of elitism and cronyism, laziness and dishonesty, and using xenophobic, racist, and homophobic language. Johnson is the subject of several biographies and a number of fictionalised portrayals.

Early life

Childhood: 1964–77

Johnson was born on 19 June 1964 at a hospital on Manhattan‘s Upper East Side in New York City.[1] His birth was registered with both the US authorities and the city’s British Consulate, and he was granted both American and British citizenship.[2] His father, the British Stanley Johnson, was studying economics at Columbia University.[3] Stanley was the grandson of the Turkish journalist Ali Kemal on the paternal side,[4] while on his maternal side he was of mixed English and French descent and was a descendant of King George II of Great Britain.[5] Stanley had married Johnson’s mother,Charlotte Johnson Wahl (née Fawcett),[6] in 1963, before they moved to the USA; she was an artist from a family of liberalintellectuals.[7] She was the granddaughter of Americans Elias Avery Lowe (a palaeographer of Russian Jewish descent)[8]and Helen Tracy Lowe-Porter, a famous translator. In reference to his varied ancestry, Johnson has described himself as a “one-man melting pot”—with a combination of Muslims, Jews, and Christians as great-grandparents.[9] Johnson was given his middle name of “Boris” after a Russian émigré the couple had once met in Mexico.[3]

Johnson’s parents were then living in an apartment opposite the Chelsea Hotel,[10] although they soon embarked on a tour of Canada and New England with their newborn.[11] In September 1964 they returned to Britain, enabling Charlotte to study for a degree at the University of Oxford.[12] She lived with her son in Summertown, Oxford, and gave birth to a daughter,Rachel, in 1965.[11] In July 1965 the family moved to Crouch End in North London;[13] in February 1966 they relocated to Washington D.C., where Stanley had gained a job with the World Bank.[14] A third child, Leo, was born in September 1967, while Charlotte took up the painting for which she would become publicly known.[15] Stanley then gained employment with a policy panel on population control, in June moving the family to Norwalk, Connecticut.[16]

Johnson spent much of his childhood near to Winsford in Exmoor.

In summer 1969, the family returned to the United Kingdom, settling into Stanley’s family farm at Nethercote, near Winsford in Exmoor.[17] At Nethercote, Johnson gained his first experiences with fox hunting.[18]Stanley was regularly absent from Nethercote, leaving Johnson to be raised largely by his mother and au pairs.[19] As a child, Johnson was quiet and studious,[13] although he suffered from severe deafness, resulting in several operations to insert grommets into his ears.[20] He and his siblings were encouraged to engage in high-brow activities from a young age,[21] with high achievement being greatly valued; Johnson’s earliest recorded ambition was to be “world king”.[22] Having few or no friends other than their siblings, the children became very close.[23] In autumn 1969 the family relocated to Maida Vale, North London, where Stanley began post-doctoral research at the London School of Economics.[24] In 1970, Charlotte and the children briefly returned to Nethercote, where Johnson was schooled at the Winsford Village School, before returning to London to settle in Primrose Hill,[25] there being educated at Primrose Hill Primary School.[26] In late 1971 another son, Jo Johnson, was born to the family.[27]

After Stanley secured employment at the European Commission, he moved his family to Brussels in April 1973, where they settled in Uccle and Johnson became fluent in French.[28][29] Charlotte had a nervous breakdown and was hospitalised withclinical depression, with Johnson and his siblings being sent to Ashdown House preparatory boarding school in East Sussex in 1975.[30] There he developed a love of rugby and excelled at Ancient Greek and Latin,[31]; he was appalled at the teachers’ use of corporal punishment.[32] Meanwhile, Stanley and Charlotte’s relationship broke down in December 1978 and they divorced in 1980.[33] Charlotte moved into a flat in Notting Hill, where her children spent much of their time with her.[34]

Eton and Oxford: 1977–87

“As a kid I was extremely spotty, extremely nerdy and horribly swotty. My idea of a really good time was to travel across London on the tube to visit the British Museum.”

— Boris Johnson[35]

Johnson was awarded a King’s Scholarship to study at Eton College, the elite independent boarding school in Eton, Berkshire.[36] Arriving there in the autumn term of 1977,[37] at Eton Johnson began using the given name “Boris” rather than “Alex”, and developed “the eccentric English persona” for which he later became known.[38] He also abandoned his mother’s Catholicism and became an Anglican, joining the Church of England.[39] Although school reports complained about his idleness, complacency, and lateness,[40] he established himself as a popular and well-known figure within the school.[38] His friends were largely from the wealthy upper middle-classes, with his best friends being Darius Guppy and Charles Spencer, both of whom would accompany him to Oxford University and remain friends into adulthood.[41] Johnson excelled in English and Classics, winning prizes in both,[42]became secretary of the school debating society,[43] and then editor of the school newspaper, The Eton College Chronicle.[44] In autumn 1981 he was admitted to the Eton Society, better known as “Pop”.[45] Upon finishing his time at Eton, Johnson went on a gap year to Australia, where he taught English and Latin at Geelong Grammar, an elite independent boarding school.[46]

Johnson read Classics at Balliol College, Oxford.

Johnson won a scholarship to read Literae Humaniores, a four-year course based in the study of Classics, at Balliol College, Oxford.[47]Arriving at Oxford in the autumn of 1983,[48] he was part of a generation of Oxford undergraduates who later dominated British politics and media in the early 21st century, among them senior Conservative Party members David Cameron, William Hague, Michael Gove, Jeremy Hunt, and Nick Boles.[49] At the university he played rugby for Balliol,[50] and associated primarily with Old Etonians, joining the Old Etonian-dominated Bullingdon Club, an upper-class drinking society known for its acts of local vandalism.[51][52] Johnson entered into a relationship with the aristocrat Allegra Mostyn-Owen, and they became engaged while at university.[53]

Johnson became a popular and well-known public figure at Oxford,[54] and with Guppy co-edited its satirical magazineTributary.[55] In 1984 he was elected secretary of the Oxford Union,[56] before campaigning for the position of Union president, losing the election to Neil Sherlock.[57] In 1986 Johnson ran for president again, aided by undergraduate Frank Luntz; his campaign focused on reaching out from his established upper-class support base by emphasising his popular persona and downplaying his connections to the Conservatives.[58] Hoping to court their vote, Johnson associated with university groups affiliated with the centrist Social Democratic Party (SDP) and Liberal Party.[59] Luntz later alleged that Johnson portrayed himself as an SDP supporter during the campaign, although Johnson claims no recollection of this.[59][60]Johnson won the election and was appointed president,[61] although his presidency was not seen as particularly distinguished or memorable,[62] and questions were raised regarding his competency and seriousness.[63] Having specialised in the study of ancient literature and classical philosophy, Johnson graduated from Balliol College with an upper second-class degree,[64][65] but was deeply unhappy that he did not receive a first.[66]

Early career

The Times and The Daily Telegraph: 1987–94

“I saw the whole [European Union] change. It was a wonderful time to be there. The Berlin Wall fell and the French and Germans had to decide how they were going to respond to this event, and what was Europe going to become, and there was this fantastic pressure to create a single polity, to create an answer to the historic German problem, and this produced the most fantastic strains in the Conservative Party, so everything I wrote from Brussels, I found was sort of chucking these rocks over the garden wall and I listened to this amazing crash from the greenhouse next door over in England as everything I wrote from Brussels was having this amazing, explosive effect on the Tory party, and it really gave me this I suppose rather weird sense of power.”

Boris Johnson[67]

Johnson and Mostyn-Owen married in West Felton, Shropshire, in September 1987; a violin piece was specially commissioned for the wedding from Hans Werner Henze.[68] The couple honeymooned in Egypt before settling into a flat in West Kensington, West London.[69]There, Johnson secured work for a management consultancycompany, L.E.K. Consulting; finding it incredibly boring, he resigned after a week.[70] Through family connections, in late 1987 he began work as a graduate trainee at The Times, shadowing one of its journalists.[71] Scandal erupted when Johnson wrote an article on thearchaeological discovery of Edward II‘s palace for the newspaper. Johnson invented a quote for the article that he falsely claimed came from the historian Colin Lucas, his own godfather. After The Timeseditor Charles Wilson learned of the deception, Johnson was sacked.[72][73]

Johnson secured employment on the leader writing desk of The Daily Telegraph, having known its editor, Max Hastings, through his OU presidency.[74] His articles were designed to appeal to the newspaper’s conservative, middle-class and middle-aged ‘Middle England‘ readership,[75] and were known for their unique literary style, replete with old-fashioned words and phrases, and for regularly referring to the readership as “my friends”.[76]In spring 1989, Johnson was appointed to the newspaper’s Brussels bureau to report on the European Commission.[77] A strong critic of Commission President Jacques Delors, he established himself as one of the few Eurosceptic journalists in the city.[78] Many of his fellow journalists based in the city were critical of his articles, opining that they often contained untruths designed to discredit the Commission,[79] with The Guardians John Palmer stating that “as a journalist he is thoroughly irresponsible, making up stories.”[80]

Johnson biographer Andrew Gimson believed that these articles made Johnson “one of [Euroscepticism’s] most famous exponents”,[67] while according to fellow biographer Sonia Purnell, he helped to make Euroscepticism “an attractive and emotionally resonant cause for the Right”, whereas previously it had been associated with the British Left.[81] Johnson’s articles established him as the favourite journalist of the Conservative Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher,[82] although Thatcher’s successor John Major was annoyed by Johnson and spent much time attempting to refute his claims.[83]Johnson’s articles exacerbated tensions between the Eurosceptic and Europhile factions of the Conservative Party, and it was these tensions which were widely viewed as a contributing factor to the party’s failure in the 1997 general election; as a result Johnson earned the mistrust of many party members.[84] His writings were also a key influence on the emergence of the right-wing Eurosceptic UK Independence Party (UKIP) in the early 1990s.[81]

In February 1990, Allegra left Johnson and returned to London; after several attempts to reconcile, they divorced in April 1993.[85] He had entered a relationship with a childhood friend, Marina Wheeler, who had moved to Brussels in 1990.[86] In May 1993, they married at Horsham, Sussex,[87] and gave birth to a daughter soon after.[88] Johnson and his wife settled inIslington, North London,[89] an area known for its left-liberal intelligentsia. Under the influence of this milieu and his new wife, Johnson moved in a more liberal direction on issues like climate change, LGBT rights, and race relations.[90] It was here that the couple had three further children, all of whom were given the joint surname of Johnson-Wheeler.[91] The children were sent to the local Canonbury Primary School and then private secondary schools.[92] Devoting much time to his children, he authored a book of verse, Perils of the Pushy Parents – A Cautionary Tale, which was published to largely poor reviews.[93]

Political columnist: 1994–99

Back in London, Hastings turned down Johnson’s request to become a war reporter,[94] instead promoting him to the position of assistant editor and chief political columnist.[95] Johnson’s column received praise for being ideologically eclectic and uniquely written, and earned him a Commentator of the Year Award at the What the Papers Say awards.[96] However, it was also accused of bigotry; in a 2002 column he used the words “piccannies“, and “watermelon smiles” when referring to Africans, and championed European colonialism in Uganda,[97][98][99] while in another he referred to gay men as “tank-topped bumboys”.[100]

Conservative Prime Minister John Major disliked Johnson and considered vetoing his candidacy as a Conservative candidate

Contemplating a political career, in 1993 Johnson outlined his desire to stand as a Conservative candidate to be a Member of the European Parliament (MEP) in the 1994 European Parliament elections. Although Major considered vetoing Johnson’s candidacy, Andrew Mitchell convinced him not to; nevertheless Johnson found it impossible to find a constituency and did not stand in that election.[101] He subsequently turned his attention to obtaining a seat in the UK House of Commons, and after being rejected as Conservative candidate for Holborn and St. Pancras he was selected as the party’s candidate for Clwyd South in North Wales, a Labour Party safe seat. Spending six weeks campaigning, he attained 9,091 votes (23%) in the 1997 general election, losing to the Labour candidate.[102]

Scandal erupted in June 1995 when a recording of a 1990 telephone conversation between Johnson and his friend Guppy was made public.[103] In the conversation, Guppy revealed that his criminal activities were being investigated by News of the World journalist Stuart Collier, and he asked Johnson to provide him with Collier’s private address, seeking to have the latter beaten up. Johnson agreed to supply the information although expressed concern that he would be associated with the attack.[103] When the phone conversation was published in 1995, Johnson insisted that he did not ultimately give the information to Guppy; Hastings reprimanded Johnson’s behaviour but did not sack him.[103]

Johnson was given a regular column in The Spectator, The Daily Telegraph‘s sister publication; it attracted mixed reviews, and was often thought rushed.[104] In 1999, he was also given a column on new cars in the magazine GQ.[105] His behaviour regularly annoyed his editors; those at GQ were frustrated by the large number of parking fines that Johnson acquired while testing cars for them,[100] while he was consistently late in providing his columns for The Telegraph and The Spectator, forcing many staff to stay late to accommodate him; they related that if they went ahead and published without his work included, he would get angry and shout at them with expletives.[106]

Johnson’s appearance on an April 1998 episode of Have I Got News for You brought him to a far wider audience; emphasising a bumbling upper-class persona, he was viewed as entertaining and invited back on to later episodes, including as a guest presenter.[107] After these, he came to be recognised on the street by the public, and was invited to appear on other television shows, such as Top Gear, Parkinson, Breakfast with Frost, and Question Time.[108]

The Spectator and MP for Henley: 1999–2008

“The selection of Boris Johnson… confirms the Tory Party’s increasing weakness for celebrity personalities over the dreary exigencies of politics. Johnson, for all his gifts, is unlikely to grace any future Tory cabinet. Indeed, he is not known for his excessive interest in serious policy matters, and it is hard to see him grubbing away at administrative detail as an obscure, hardworking junior minister for social security. To maintain his funny man reputation he will no doubt find himself refining his Bertie Wooster interpretation to the point where the impersonation becomes the man.”

Max Hastings, Evening Standard[109]

In July 1999, Conrad Black — proprietor of The Daily Telegraph andThe Spectator — offered Johnson the editorship of the latter on the condition that he abandoned his parliamentary aspirations; Johnson agreed.[110] He brought in contributions from figures whom he had known from his past,[111] and while retaining The Spectators traditional right-wing bent, he also welcomed contributions from leftist writers and cartoonists.[112] Under Johnson’s editorship, the circulation of The Spectator grew by 10% to 62,000 and it began to turn a profit.[113] His editorship also drew criticism; some opined that under his leadership The Spectator avoided covering serious issues and focused on trivial topics,[114] while colleagues became annoyed that he was regularly absent from the office and often missed meetings and events.[115] He gained a reputation as a poor political pundit for incorrect political predictions that he made in the magazine,[114] and was also strongly criticised — including by his father-in-law Charles Wheeler — for allowingSpectator columnist Taki Theodoracopulos to publish racist and anti-Semitic language in the magazine.[116]

Following the retirement of Michael Heseltine, Johnson decided to stand as the Conservative candidate for Henley, a Conservative safe seat in Oxfordshire.[117] The local Conservative branch were split over Johnson’s candidacy; some found him amusing and charming, while others were critical of his flippant attitude to serious matters and his lack of knowledge about the local area, although he was nevertheless selected.[118] Boosted by his television fame, Johnson stood as the Conservative candidate for the constituency in the 2001 general election, winning with a majority of 8,500 votes.[119]Alongside his main Islington home, Johnson purchased a farmhouse outside Thame in his new constituency.[120] He regularly attended Henley social events and wrote an occasional column for the Henley Standard.[121] His constituency surgeries proved popular, and he involved himself in local campaigns to save Townlands Hospital and the local air ambulance from closure, as well as to keep Brakspear as an independent brewer.[122]

In becoming a Member of Parliament, Johnson broke his promise to Black that he would not do so while editing The Spectator. Although labelling Johnson as “ineffably duplicitous”, Black did not sack him, viewing him as “a capable editor” who “helped promote the magazine and raise its circulation”.[123] In Parliament, Johnson was appointed to serve on astanding committee assessing the Proceeds of Crime Bill, although missed many of its meetings.[124] Despite his credentials as a public speaker, his speeches in the House of Commons were widely deemed lacklustre and lacking in passion, with Johnson later admitting that they were “crap”.[125] In his first four years as MP for Henley he attended just over half of the votes in the House of Commons, although by his second term this had declined to 45%.[126] In most cases he supported the Conservative party line, only rebelling against it five times during this period, when he adopted a more socially liberal attitude than the mainstream party; he for instance voted to repeal Section 28 and supported the Gender Recognition Act 2004.[127] Although initially claiming that he would not do so, he voted in support of the government’s plans to join the US in the 2003 invasion of Iraq,[120] and in April 2003 visited occupied Baghdad.[128] By December 2006 he was publicly regretting his decision, describing the invasion as “a colossal mistake and misadventure”.[129]

In the period 2001–08, Johnson represented the constituency of Henley in the House of Commons.

Alongside his full-time job as an MP, he continued editing The Spectator, writing columns for The Daily Telegraph and GQ, and making television appearances.[130] He also published a book, Friends, Voters, Countrymen: Jottings on the Stump, which recounted his experiences with the 2001 election campaign.[131] His next publication was 2003’s Lend Me Your Ears, a collection of previously published columns and articles.[132] In 2004 this was followed by his first novel,Seventy-Two Virgins: A Comedy of Errors, which revolved around the life of a Conservative MP and contained various biographical elements.[133] Responding to critics who argued that he was juggling too many positions, he cited prominent Conservative politiciansWinston Churchill and Benjamin Disraeli as exemplars who combined their political and writing careers.[134] To manage the stress he took up jogging and cycling,[135] and became so well known for the latter that Gimson suggested that he was “perhaps the most famous cyclist in Britain”.[136]

Following William Hague‘s resignation as Conservative leader, Johnson used The Spectator to support the candidacy of the only pro-EU figure, Kenneth Clarke. Johnson argued that Clarke was the only candidate capable of winning a general election, however Iain Duncan Smith was selected.[137] Johnson had a strained relationship with Duncan Smith, with The Spectator becoming very critical of the latter’s party leadership.[138] Duncan Smith was removed from his position in November 2003 and replaced by Michael Howard; Howard deemed Johnson to be the most popular Conservative politician with the electorate and appointed him vice-chairman of the party, responsible for overseeing their electoral campaign.[139] In his shadow cabinet reshuffle of May 2004, Howard appointed Johnson to the position of shadow arts minister.[140] In October 2004 Howard ordered Johnson to go to Liverpool and issue a public apology for an article anonymously authored by Simon Heffer that Johnson had published in The Spectator; in the article, Heffer claimed that the crowds at theHillsborough disaster had contributed towards the incident and that Liverpool had a predilection for reliance on the welfare state.[141][142]

In November 2004, the British tabloids revealed that since 2000, Johnson had been having an affair with Spectatorcolumnist Petronella Wyatt, resulting in two terminated pregnancies. Johnson initially dismissed the claims as “piffle”.[143]After the allegations were proven, Howard asked Johnson to resign from his position as vice-chairman and shadow arts minister, not because of the affair but because he had publicly lied about it. Johnson refused, at which Howard sacked him from those positions.[144][145] The scandal was satirised by The Spectators theatre critics Toby Young and Lloyd Evans in a play, Who’s the Daddy?, performed at Islington’s King’s Head Theatre in July 2005; the play upset Johnson.[146] In April 2006, the News of the World alleged that Johnson was having an affair with the journalist Anna Fazackerley; both Fazackerley and Johnson refused to comment although the former stepped down from her job and was subsequently employed by Johnson.[147][148] That month, he attracted further public attention for taking part in a charity football match between former professional footballers and celebrities from England and Germany, in which he rugby tackled Maurizio Gaudino.[149] In September 2006 his comparison between the frequently changing leadership of the Conservatives tocannibalism in Papua New Guinea drew criticism from the latter country’s high commission.[150]

Johnson backed David Cameron for the position of Conservative leader.

In the 2005 general election, Johnson was re-elected MP for Henley, increasing his majority to 12,793.[151] Following Labour’s victory in the election, Howard stood down as Conservative leader, with Johnson backing David Cameron as his successor.[152] After being successfully selected, Cameron appointed Johnson as the shadow higher education minister, acknowledging his popularity among students.[153] Johnson’s main interest was in streamlining university funding,[154] as part of which he supported Labour’s proposed top-up fees.[155] In September 2006, his image was used in ‘Boris needs you’ and ‘I Love Boris’ material to promote the Conservative Party’s image during Freshers’ Week in universities.[156] In 2006 Johnson campaigned to become Rector of Edinburgh University, but his support for top-up fees damaged his campaign and he ultimately came third, losing to Mark Ballard.[157][158]

In 2005, The Spectators new chief executive, Andrew Neil, removed Johnson from the editorship of the magazine.[159] With his reduction of earnings, Johnson convinced The Daily Telegraph to raise his annual fee from £200,000 to £250,000, averaging at £5,000 per column, each of which took up around an hour and a half of his time.[160][161] He presented apopular history television show, The Dream of Rome, for Tiger Aspect; the show was broadcast in January 2006 and a book followed in February.[162] Through his own production company, he then produced a sequel, After Rome, which focused on early Islamic history.[163] As a result of his various activities, in 2007 he earned £540,000, making him the UK’s third highest earning MP that year.[164]

Mayor of London

Mayoral election: 2008

In March 2007, Johnson suggested that he stand for the position of Mayor of London in the 2008 mayoral election.[165] His candidacy was not initially taken seriously within the Conservative Party, who favoured Nick Boles as its candidate.[166]However, after Boles withdrew, Johnson gained the support of Cameron,[167] as well as the London Evening Standardnewspaper.[27] In July, he officially announced his candidacy,[168][169] and was selected as Conservative candidate in September after gaining 79% of the vote in a public London-wide primary.[170][171] The Conservatives hired election strategist Lynton Crosby to run Johnson’s campaign,[172] which was primarily funded by sympathetic individuals in London’s financial sector.[173] Johnson’s campaign focused on reducing youth crime, making public transport safer, and replacing the ‘bendy buses‘ with a new fleet of Routemasters.[174] It also targeted the Conservative-leaning suburbs on outer London, hoping to capitalise on a perception that they had been overlooked by a Labour Mayoralty that had paid more attention toinner London.[175] His campaign capitalised on his popularity, even among those who opposed his policies,[176] with opponents complaining that a common attitude among voters was that “I’m voting for Boris because he is a laugh”.[174]

Johnson pledged to introduce newRoutemaster-derived buses to replacethe city’s fleet of articulated buses if elected Mayor

Labour incumbent Ken Livingstone took Johnson seriously, referring to him as “the most formidable opponent I will face in my political career.”[177] Livingstone’s campaign portrayed Johnson as both an out-of-touch toff and a bigot, as evidenced by racist and homophobic language that he had used in his column; Johnson responded that these quotes had been taken out of context and were meant assatire.[178] Johnson insisted that he was not a bigot, declaring that “I’m absolutely 100% anti-racist; I despise and loath racism”.[179] Publicly emphasising his Turkish ancestry,[180] he went contrary to Conservative policy by declaring his support for an earned amnesty for illegal immigrants.[181] However, the allegations were exacerbated when the far right British National Party (BNP) urged its supporters to give their second preference votes to Johnson; he responded by “utterly and unreservedly” condemning the BNP.[182][183] Controversy was also generated when during the campaign Johnson admitted that as a student he had used cannabis andcocaine.[184]

The election took place in May 2008, and witnessed a turnout of approximately 45% of eligible voters, with Johnson receiving 43.2% and Livingstone 37% of first-preference votes; when second-preference votes were added, Johnson proved victorious with 53.2% to Livingstone’s 46.8%.[185][186] Johnson benefited from a large voter turnout in Conservative strongholds, in particular Bexley and Bromley.[187] Johnson thus won the largest personal electoral mandate in the UK.[188]Following his victory, he praised Livingstone as a “very considerable public servant” and added that he hoped to “discover a way in which the mayoralty can continue to benefit from your transparent love of London”.[186] He also announced that, as a result of his victory, he would resign as Member of Parliament for Henley,[189][190] generating some anger from Henley party members and constituents who felt that Johnson was abandoning them for London.[191]

First term: 2008–12

Johnson giving a victory speech inCity Hall after being elected Mayor of London

Settling into the Mayoral offices at City Hall,[192] Johnson’s first official engagement was an appearance at the Sikh celebrations for Vaisakhi in Trafalgar Square.[193]His first policy initiative, issued that month, was a ban on drinking alcohol on public transport.[194][195] He received criticism during the early weeks of his administration, largely because he was late to two official functions in his first week on the job, and because after three weeks he embarked on a holiday to Turkey.[196] In July 2008 Johnson visited the closing ceremony of the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing, there offending his Chinese hosts with his attire.[197] Rather than bringing a team of assistants with him to the job as Livingstone had done, Johnson built his team over the following six months.[198] Those in City Hall who were deemed too closely allied to Livingstone’s administration had their employment terminated.[196] Johnson appointed Tim Parker to be first deputy mayor, but after Parker began taking increasing control at City Hall and insisted that all staff report directly to him, Johnson sacked him.[199] As a result of these problems, many in the Conservative Party initially distanced themselves from Johnson’s administration, fearing that it would be counter-productive to achieving a Conservative victory in the 2010 general election.[200]

During the electoral campaign, Johnson had confided to Brian Paddick that he was unsure how he would retain his current lifestyle while relying upon the Mayoral salary of £140,000 a year.[201] Dealing with this problem, he agreed to continue hisTelegraph column alongside his Mayoral job, thus earning a further £250,000 a year.[202] His team believed that this would cause controversy, and made him promise to donate a fifth of his Telegraph fee to a charitable cause providing bursaries for students. Johnson resented this, and ultimately did not pay a full fifth.[203] Controversy erupted when he was questioned about his Telegraph fee on BBC‘s HARDtalk; here, he referred to the £250,000 as “chicken feed”, something that was widely condemned given that this was roughly ten times the average yearly wage for a British worker.[204][205][206]

The New Routemaster bus introduced by Johnson’s administration

Johnson made no major changes to the mayoral system as developed by Livingstone.[207] He did however reverse a number of measures implemented by Livingstone’s administration, ending the city’s oil deal with Venezuela, abolishingThe Londoner newsletter, and scrapping the half yearly inspections of black cabs, although the latter were reinstated three years later.[208] Abolishing the western wing of the congestion charging zone,[209] he cancelled plans to increase the congestion charge for four-wheel drives.[210] He retained Livingstone projects like Crossrail and the 2012 Olympic Games, although was accused of trying to take credit for them.[211] He introduced a public bicycle scheme which had been mooted by Livingstone’s administration; colloquially known as “Boris Bikes“, the partly privately financed system cost £140 million and was a significant financial loss although proved popular.[212][213] Despite Johnson’s support of cycling in London – and his much publicised identity as a cyclist himself – his administration was criticised by some cycling groups who argued that he had failed to make the city’s roads safer for cyclists.[214] As per his election pledge, he also commissioned the development of the New Routemaster buses for central London.[215] He also ordered the construction of a cable-car system that crossed the River Thames betweenGreenwich Peninsula and the Royal Docks.[216] At the beginning of his tenure as Mayor, Johnson announced plans to extend Pay As You Go Oyster card to national rail services in London[217] One of the pledges in Johnson’s election manifesto was to retain Tube ticket offices, in opposition to Livingstone’s proposal to close up to 40 London Underground ticket offices.[218] On 2 July 2008 the Mayor’s office announced that the closure plan was to be abandoned and that offices would remain open.[219] On 21 November 2013, Transport for London announced that all London Underground ticket offices would close by 2015.[220] In financing these projects, Johnson’s administration borrowed £100 million,[221] while public transport fares were increased by 50%.[222]

Johnson assumed control at City Hall on 4 May 2008. He appointed Richard Barnes as his Deputy Mayor on 6 May 2008, as well as appointing the following to newly devolved offices; Ian Clement as Deputy Mayor for Government Relations, Kit Malthouse as Deputy Mayor for Policing and Ray Lewis as Deputy Mayor for Young People.[223] The Mayor also appointedMunira Mirza as his cultural adviser and Nick Boles, the founder of Policy Exchange, as Chief of Staff.[224] Sir Simon Miltonbecame Deputy Mayor for Policy and Planning, as well as Chief of Staff.[223] Political opponents questioned Johnson’s judgement when Ray Lewis resigned on 4 July 2008, shortly after taking up his post, following allegations of financial misconduct during his prior career as a Church of England priest and inappropriate behaviour in respect of a false claim to have been appointed as a magistrate.[225]

Johnson implemented Livingstone’s idea of a public bicycle system; the result was dubbed the “Boris Bike”.

During the first term of his mayoralty, Johnson was perceived as having moved leftward on certain issues, for instance by supporting the London Living Wage and the idea of an amnesty for illegal migrants.[226] He tried placating critics who had deemed him a bigot by appearing at London’s gay pride parade and praising ethnic minority newspapers.[227] In 2012 he banned London buses from displaying the adverts of Core Issues Trust, a Christian group, which compared being gay to an illness.[228] In August 2008, Johnson broke from the traditional procedure of those in public office not publicly commenting on other nations’ elections by endorsingBarack Obama for the presidency of the United States.[229][230]

Johnson appointed himself Chairman of the Metropolitan Police Authority (MPA), and in October 2008 successfully pushed for the resignation of Metropolitan Police Commissioner Ian Blair after the latter was criticised for allegedly handing contracts to friends and for his handling of the death of Jean Charles de Menezes.[231][232][233] This earned Johnson great respect among Conservatives, who interpreted it as his first act of strength and assertiveness.[234] Although resigning as MPA Chairman in January 2010,[226] throughout his mayoralty Johnson was highly supportive of the Metropolitan Police, particularly during the controversy surrounding the death of Ian Tomlinson.[235] Overall crime in London fell during his administration, although his claim that serious youth crime had decreased was shown to be false, as it had increased.[236][237] Similarly, his claim that Metropolitan Police numbers had increased was also shown to be incorrect, as the city’s police force had decreased in size under his administration, in line with the rest of the country.[236] He was also criticised for his response to the 2011 London riots; holidaying with his family in British Columbia when the rioting broke out, he did not immediately return to London, only returning 48 hours after it had begun and addressing Londoners 60 hours after. Upon visiting shopkeepers and residents affected by the riots in Clapham, he was booed and jeered away by some elements within the crowds.[238]

Johnson’s response to the 2011 London riots was criticised

Johnson championed London’s financial sector and denounced what he saw as “banker bashing” following the financial crisis of 2007–08,[239] condemning the anti-capitalist Occupy London movement that appeared in 2011.[240] He spent much time with those involved in the financial services, and criticised the government’s 50p tax rate for higher earners.[241] He collected donations from the city’s wealthy for a charitable enterprise, the Mayor’s Fund, which he had established to aid disadvantaged youths; although initially announcing that it would raise £100 million, by 2010 it had only spent £1.5 million.[242] He also retained extensive personal contacts throughout the British media,[243] which resulted in widespread favourable press coverage of his administration.[243] In turn he remained largely supportive of his friends in the media, among them Rupert Murdoch, during the News International phone hacking scandal.[244]

The formation of the Forensic Audit Panel was announced on 8 May 2008. The Panel is tasked with monitoring and investigating financial management at the London Development Agency and the Greater London Authority.[245] Johnson’s announcement was criticised by Labour for the perceived politicisation of this nominally independent panel, who asked if the appointment of these key Johnson allies to the panel – “to dig dirt on Ken Livingstone” – was “an appropriate use of public funds”.[246] Wheatcroft is married to a Conservative councillor[247] and three of the four remaining panel members also have close links to the Conservatives: Stephen Greenhalgh (Conservative Leader of Hammersmith and Fulham Council),[248]Patrick Frederick (Chairman of Conservative Business Relations for South East England and Southern London) and Edward Lister (Conservative Leader of Wandsworth Council).[249]

Johnson in 2009

During his first administration, Johnson was embroiled in several personal scandals. After moving to a new house in Islington, he built a shed on his balcony without obtaining planning permission; after neighbours complained, he dismantled the shed.[250] The press also accused him of having an affair with Helen Macintyre and of fathering her child, allegations that he did not deny.[251][252][253][254] Controversy was generated when Johnson was accused of warning the MP Damian Green that police were planning to arrest him; Johnson denied the claims and did not face criminal charges under the Criminal Justice Act.[255] He was accused ofcronyism,[256] in particular for appointing Veronica Wadley, a former Evening Standard editor who had supported him, as the chair of London’s Arts Council when she was widely regarded as not being the best candidate for the position.[257][258][259] He was caught up in the parliamentary expenses scandal and accused of excessive personal spending on taxi journeys, with his deputy mayor Ian Clement having been found to have misused a City Hall credit card, resulting in his resignation.[260] Johnson remained a popular figure in London with a strong celebrity status.[261] In 2009, he rescued a woman, Franny Armstrong, from anti-social teenagers who had threatened her while he was cycling past.[262][263][264]

Up for re-election in 2012, Johnson again hired Crosby to orchestrate his campaign.[265] Before the election, Johnson published Johnson’s Life of London, a work of popular history which the historian A. N. Wilson characterised as a “coded plea” for votes.[266] Polls suggested that while Livingstone’s approach to transport was preferred, voters in London placed greater trust in Johnson over issues of crime and the economy.[267] During the 2012 Mayoral election, Johnson sought re-election, while Livingstone was again selected as the Labour candidate. Johnson’s campaign emphasised the accusation that Livingstone was guilty of tax evasion, for which Livingstone called Johnson a “bare-faced liar”.[268] The political scientist Andrew Crines believed that Livingstone’s campaign focused on criticising Johnson rather than presenting an alternate and progressive vision of London’s future.[269] In 2012, he was re-elected as Mayor, again defeating Livingstone.[270]

Johnson at the 2012 Olympics

Second term: 2012–16

London was successful in its bid to host the 2012 Summer Olympics while Ken Livingstone was still Mayor in 2005. Johnson’s role in the proceedings was to be the co-chair of an Olympic board which oversaw the Games.[271] Two of his actions subsequent to taking on this role were to improve the transport around London by making more tickets available and laying on more buses around the capital during the busy period, when thousands of spectators were temporary visitors in London,[272][273] and also to allow shops and supermarkets to have longer opening hours on Sundays.[274]

In November 2013, Johnson announced major changes to the operation of London Underground, including the extension of Tube operating hours to run through the night at weekends. The announcement also revealed that all staffed Underground ticket offices would be closed with the aim of saving over £40 million a year, with automated ticketing systems provided instead.[275][276]

Johnson opening a new sixth form centre at Chislehurst and Sidcup Grammar School, 2016

In February 2012 he criticised London’s Saint Patrick’s Day gala dinner celebrations, linking them to Sinn Féin and branding the event “Lefty crap”,[277] for which he later apologised.[278]

In February 2013, during a London Assembly meeting following the publication of the 2014 budget for London, Johnson was ejected from the meeting following a vote and on the grounds that his Deputy Victoria Borwick had left the chamber. Upon realising that the vote meant that he would not be questioned on the budget, Johnson referred to his political opponents as “great supine protoplasmic invertebrate jellies”.[279]

Johnson attended the launch of the World Islamic Economic Forum in London in July 2013, where he answered questions alongside Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak. He joked that Malaysian women attended university in order to find husbands, causing some offence among female attendees.[280][281]

In 2014, Johnson pushed his biography of Churchill, The Churchill Factor, with media emphasising how Johnson repeatedly compared himself to Churchill throughout.[282]

In 2016, three German-made water cannon, which he had bought for the Metropolitan Police without waiting for clearance for use by Theresa May, were sold by his successor, with the funds going to youth services.[283]

Return to Parliament

‘Brexit’ campaign: 2015–16

Johnson initially denied that he would return to the House of Commons while remaining Mayor.[261] However, after much media speculation, in August 2014 he sought selection as the Conservative candidate for the safe seat of Uxbridge and South Ruislip at the 2015 general election,[284] being selected as the party’s candidate in September.[285][286] The United Kingdom general election, 2015 took place on 7 May and Johnson was elected. There was much speculation that he had returned to Parliament because he wanted to replace Cameron as Conservative leader and Prime Minister.[287]

Johnson became the centre of media interest in early 2016 when he refused to clarify his support for Brexit. In February 2016 he endorsed Vote Leave in the “Out” campaign for the United Kingdom European Union membership referendum, 2016.[288] He labelled Cameron’s fears on the matter as “greatly over exaggerated”. Following this announcement, which was interpreted by financial markets as making Brexit more probable, the pound sterling slumped by nearly 2% to its lowest level since March 2009.[289] When Obama urged the UK to remain in the EU, Johnson alleged that the President was motivated by anti-British sentiment caused by his Kenyan ancestry.[290] The comments were condemned as racist and unacceptable by several Labour and Liberal Democratic politicians,[291][292] and a King’s College London student society revoked a speaking invitation to him on the basis of it.[293] Conversely, his comments were defended by both UKIP leaderNigel Farage and the Conservative Iain Duncan Smith.[291][294][295][296]

Michael Gove’s decision to run for the Conservative leadership was widely credited with undermining Johnson’s hopes for the leadership.

Following the success of the “Leave” campaign in the referendum, Cameron announced his resignation, and Johnson was widely regarded as the front-runner inthe election of his replacement, both as Conservative leader and as Prime Minister.[297][298] In what was anticipated to be the launch of his leadership campaign, Johnson declared he would not campaign for leader, as he did not believe he could provide the necessary unity or leadership for the party.[299] This followed the surprise launch of a leadership campaign by Michael Gove, previously seen as a key ally of the Johnson campaign, who said (earlier that morning) that he had reluctantly come to the conclusion that Johnson “cannot provide the leadership or build the team for the task ahead.”[300][301][302] The Telegraph stated that Gove’s actions in undermining Johnson’s leadership aspirations constituted “the most spectacular political assassination in a generation.”[303] Meanwhile, Michael Heseltine stated that Johnson had “ripped apart” the Conservative Party and that “He’s created the greatest constitutional crisis of modern times. He knocked billions off the value of the nation’s savings”.[304] Johnson then endorsed Andrea Leadsom as a candidate for the Conservative leadership, but she dropped out of the race a week later.[305]

Foreign Secretary: 2016–

Following Theresa May‘s victory in the leadership contest and subsequent appointment as Prime Minister, Johnson was appointed Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs on 13 July 2016.[306] Johnson’s appointment was criticized by some journalists and foreign politicians due to his history of controversial statements about other countries and their leaders.[307][308][309] Former Prime Minister of Sweden Carl Bildt said “I wish it was a joke”, and France’s foreign minister Jean-Marc Ayrault stated: “I am not at all worried about Boris Johnson, but … during the campaign he lied a lot to the British people and now it is he who has his back against the wall.”[310] Conversely, former Prime Minister of AustraliaTony Abbott welcomed the appointment and called him “a friend of Australia”.[309] A senior official in the Obama administration suggested that the appointment of Johnson would push the United States further towards ties with Germanyat the expense of the special relationship with the United Kingdom.[311]

Several analysts described the appointment as a possible tactic by May to weaken her leadership rival Johnson politically: the new positions of “Brexit Secretary” and International Trade Secretary leave the Foreign Secretary as a figurehead with few powers,[306][312] and the appointment would ensure that Johnson would often be out of the country and unable to organize a rebel coalition, while also forcing him to take responsibility for any problems caused by withdrawal from the EU.[313][314][315]

Political ideology

Ideologically, Johnson has described himself as a “One-Nation Tory[316][317] and a “very moderate liberal conservative“.[318]Academic Tony Travers of the London School of Economics described Johnson as “a fairly classic—that is, small-state—mildly eurosceptic Conservative” who like his contemporaries Cameron and Osborne also embraced “modern social liberalism”.[319] The Guardian agreed that while Mayor, Johnson had blended economic and social liberalism,[320] with The Economist claiming that in doing so Johnson “transcends his Tory identity” and adopts a more libertarian perspective.[321]Stuart Reid, Johnson’s colleague at The Spectator, described the latter’s views as being those of a “liberal libertarian”.[322]Johnson’s biographer and friend Andrew Gimson noted that while “in economic and social matters, [Johnson] is a genuine liberal”, he retains a “Tory element” to his personality through his “love of existing institutions, and a recognition of the inevitability of hierarchy”.[323]

“[I am] free-market, tolerant, broadly libertarian (though perhaps not ultra-libertarian), inclined to see the merit of traditions, anti-regulation, pro-immigrant, pro-standing on your own two feet, pro-alcohol, pro-hunting, pro-motorist and ready to defend to the death the right ofGlenn Hoddle to believe in reincarnation.”

Boris Johnson[124]

Stuart Wilks-Heeg, executive director of Democratic Audit, noted that “Boris is politically nimble”,[319] while biographer Sonia Purnell stated that Johnson regularly changed his opinion on political issues, commenting on what she perceived to be “an ideological emptiness beneath the staunch Tory exterior.”[324] She later referred to his “opportunistic—some might say pragmatic—approach to politics”.[325]Former Mayor Ken Livingstone claimed in an interview with the New Statesman that while he had once feared Johnson as “the most hardline right-wing ideologue since Thatcher”, over the course of Johnson’s mayoralty he had instead concluded that he was “a fairly lazy tosser who just wants to be there” while doing very little work.[326] He has sometimes been described as a “populist[327][328][329] and a “nationalist“.[330]

Although Johnson became widely known for his strongly Eurosceptic articles in The Daily Telegraph, many of his close associates have believed this to be an opportunistic ruse, expressing the view that he is not a genuine Eurosceptic, with some suggesting that he might be sympathetic to the cause of European federalism.[331] He welcomed Turkey’s entry into the EU in 2012.[clarification needed][332] Highlighting these claims, Purnell stated that he is “neither truly anti-European nor aLittle Englander“.[333]

Purnell has noted that Johnson “is nothing if not an elitist”,[334] and in an article titled “Long Live Elitism” he stated that “without elites and elitism man would still be in his caves.”[335] Purnell believed that it was the influence of Johnson’s maternal family, the left-wing Fawcetts, that led to him developing “a genuine abhorrence of racial discrimination”.[336]

Public image

Johnson on a demonstration against hospital closures with Liberal Democrat MP John Hemming (left) and Conservative MP Graham Stuart(centre) on 28 March 2006

Widely known simply as “Boris”,[337] Johnson has attracted a variety of nicknames, including “BoJo”, a portmanteau of his forename and surname.[338] Biographer Sonia Purnell described his public persona as “brand Boris”, noting that he developed it while at Oxford University.[339] Max Hastings referred to this public image as a “façade resembling that of P. G. Wodehouse‘s Gussie Fink-Nottle, allied to wit, charm, brilliance and startling flashes of instability”,[340] while political scientist Andrew Crines stated that Johnson had created “the character of a likable and trustworthy individual with strong intellectual capital”.[341] Private Eye editor Ian Hislop has defined him as “Beano Boris” due to his perceived comical nature, saying: “He’s our Berlusconi … He’s the only feel-good politician we have, everyone else is too busy being responsible.”[342]

Johnson purposely cultivates a “semi-shambolic look”,[343] for instance by specifically ruffling his hair in a certain way for when he makes public appearances.[344] Purnell described him as “a manic self-promoter” who filled his life with “fun and jokes”.[345] Described by Crines as “a joker”,[341] Johnson has stated that “humour is a utensil that you can use to sugar the pill and to get important points across.”[345] Purnell noted that colleagues of his regularly expressed the view that he used people to advance his own interests,[346] with Gimson noting that he was “one of the great flatterers of our times”.[347]Purnell noted that he deflected serious questions using “a little humour and a good deal of bravado”.[348] According to Gimson, Johnson was “a humane man” who “could also be staggeringly inconsiderate of others” when focusing upon his own interests.[349] Gimson also noted that Johnson has “an excessive desire to be liked”.[350]

According to Purnell, “[Johnson] is blessed with immense charisma, wit, sex appeal and celebrity gold dust; he is also recognised and loved by millions—although perhaps less so by many who have had to work closely with him (let alone depend on him). Resourceful, cunning and strategic, he can pull off serious political coups when the greater good happens to coincide with his personal advantage but these aspirations are rarely backed up by concrete achievements, or even detailed plans.”[351]

Purnell noted that Johnson was a “highly evasive figure” when it came to his personal life,[352] who remained detached from others and who had very few if any intimate friends.[353] Among friends and family, Johnson is known as “Al” rather than “Boris”.[354] Gimson stated that Johnson “has very bad manners. He tends to be late, does not care about being late, and dresses without much care”.[355] Highly ambitious and very competitive, Gimson noted that he was born “to wage a ceaseless struggle for supremacy”.[356] He would be particularly angered with those he thought insulted aspects of his personal life; for instance, when an article in The Telegraph upset him he e-mailed commissioning editor Sam Leith with the simple message “Fuck off and die.”[357] Thus Purnell notes that Johnson hides his ruthlessness “using bumbling, self-deprecation or humour”,[358] adding that he was a fan of “laddish banter and crude sexual references”.[359] Johnson is a fluent speaker of French and Italian, has a good grasp of German and Spanish,[77] and is a lover of Latin,[360] frequently using classical references in his newspaper columns and speeches.[339] Stating that in the past he has “often smoked cannabis”,[361] Johnson is in favour of legalising medical marijuana.[362]

“Boris is an original—the opposite of a stereotype, the exception to the rule. Overweight and goosey-fleshed, he’s the antithesis of an airbrushed pin-up. He resembles a ‘human laundry-basket’ and has a habit of forgetting to shower.”

Biographer Sonia Purnell[324]

Johnson is a controversial figure in British politics and journalism.[363][364] Purnell described Johnson as “the most unconventional, yet compelling politician of the post-Blair era” in British politics.[352] She added that in Britain, he was “beloved by millions and recognised by all”.[352] Giles Edwards and Jonathan Isaby commented that Johnson appealed to “a broad cross-section of the public”.[365] Gimson expressed the view that “people love him because he makes them laugh”,[366] noting that he had become “the darling of the Tory rank and file”.[367] Purnell recognised that during the 2008 mayoral election, he was “polarising opinions to the extreme”,[368] with critics viewing him as “variously evil, a clown, a racist and a bigot”.[369] Writing in The Guardian, journalist Polly Toynbee for instance referred to him as “Jester, toff, self-absorbed sociopath and serial liar”,[370] while Labour politician Hazel Blears called him “a nasty right-wing elitist, with odious views and criminal friends”.[371] More recently, Johnson has evoked comparisons with 2016 Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump.[372][373][374] In June 2016, Nick Clegg described him as “like Donald Trump with a thesaurus”,[375] while fellow Conservative MP Kenneth Clarkedescribed him as a “nicer Donald Trump”[376] and EU official Martin Selmayr described the potential election of Johnson and Trump to the leadership of their respective countries as a “horror scenario”.[377] However, Johnson has chosen to distance himself from Trump, criticising him on numerous occasions.[378][379]

Personal life

Johnson has dual citizenship in both the United Kingdom and the United States, since he was born in New York City to English parents. In 2014 Johnson acknowledged he was disputing a demand for capital gains tax from the US tax authorities,[380][381] which ultimately he paid.[382] In February 2015 Boris Johnson announced his intention to give up US citizenship to prove his loyalty to the UK.[383][384]

Johnson is the eldest of the four children of Stanley Johnson, a former Conservative Member of the European Parliamentand employee of the European Commission and World Bank, and the painter Charlotte Johnson Wahl (née Fawcett),[6] the daughter of Sir James Fawcett, a barrister[385] and president of the European Commission of Human Rights.[386] His younger siblings are Rachel Johnson, a writer and journalist; Leo Johnson, a partner in PricewaterhouseCoopers specialising in sustainability;[387] and Jo Johnson, Minister of State for Universities and Science and Conservative MP forOrpington. His stepfather was the American academic Nicholas Wahl.[citation needed] Johnson’s stepmother, Jenny, the second wife of his father Stanley, is the stepdaughter of Teddy Sieff, the former chairman of Marks & Spencer.[388]

In 1987, he married Allegra Mostyn-Owen; the marriage was dissolved in 1993.[389] Later that year, he married Marina Wheeler, a barrister and daughter of journalist and broadcaster Sir Charles Wheeler and his wife, Dip Singh.[390] The Wheeler and Johnson families have known each other for decades,[391] and Marina Wheeler was at the European School in Brussels at the same time as her future husband. They have four children: two daughters, Lara and Cassia, and two sons, Milo and Theodore.[392] Johnson and his family live in Islington, North London.

In 2009 Johnson fathered a daughter with Helen MacIntyre, an arts consultant. Her existence was the subject of legal action in 2013 with the Court of Appeal quashing an injunction seeking to ban reporting of her existence; the judge ruled that the public had a right to know about Johnson’s “reckless” behaviour.[393][394][395]