Brexit to end: Boris Johnson’s rise and fall
London – Boris Johnson ran his entire career happily, returning from a series of setbacks and scandals that would have sunk other less popular politicians.
But the happiness of a man who was once compared to a “greased piglet” for his ability to escape controversy finally came to an end, after a series of high-profile resignations from his scandal-ridden government.
The departure of the great prime ministers Rishi Sunak as finance minister and Sajid Javid as health secretary on Tuesday weakened the prime minister under pressure just as he needed allies most.
His expected departure on Thursday – after a tidal wave of layoffs from his top team – comes just three years after he took over from Theresa May in an internal conservative leadership contest.
He called for a quick parliamentary election in December, and won the largest Tory parliamentary majority since Margaret Thatcher’s heyday in the 1980s.
It allowed him to remove the block of years of political paralysis after the Brexit vote in 2016, to take Britain out of the EU in January 2020.
But he has faced criticism since, from his handling of the coronavirus pandemic to allegations of corruption, friendship, double standards and double standards.
Some drew parallels between his style of governing and his chaotic private life with three marriages, at least seven children and rumors of a number of issues.
Sonia Purnell, Johnson’s former Daily Telegraph colleague, suggested that Sunak and Javid may have realized what she and others have in front of them.
“The closer you get to him, the less you like him, and the less you can trust him,” she told Sky News.
“He really fails everyone, at every point he really misleads you.”
– ‘Cavalier’ –
Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson had a conventional takeover of power for a conservative politician: first the elite Eton College, then Oxford University.
At Eton, teachers complained about his “cavalier attitude” to the studies and the feeling he gave that he should be treated as “an exception”.
Johnson’s apparent attitude that rules were for other people was well demonstrated in 2006 when he inexplicably tackled rugby against an opponent in a charity match with football.
His resilience to the truth was created in Oxford, where he was president of the Oxford Union, a debating society based on rhetoric and remarks instead of mastering cold, hard facts.
His privileged cohort in the backbone cave of student politics yielded many leading Brexiters.
Right after Oxford, he married his first wife – fellow student Allegra Mostyn-Owen – despite his mother’s concerns.
“I did not like the fact that he was on the right,” said Gaia Servadio, who died last year, of Johnson’s cinema Tom Bower.
“But above all, I did not like his character. For him, the truth does not exist.”
After university, he was fired from The Times after making a quote, and then started in the Telegraph as a Brussels correspondent.
From there, he fed the growing conservative Euroscepticism of the 1990s with regular “euro myths” about alleged EU plans for a federal mega-state that threatens British sovereignty.
Outraged rivals accused of matching his dubious exclusives described some of his stories as “complete nonsense”.
– Opportunism –
Johnson took advantage of his increasingly high profile from Brussels, with satirical TV quiz appearances, newspaper and magazine columns.
Much of his journalism has since been reproduced at length, especially his unconstructed views on issues from single mothers and homosexuality to British colonialism.
He became a Member of Parliament in 2004, with the then Tory leader Michael Howard firing him from the shadow cabinet for lying about an extramarital affair.
From 2008 to 2016, he served two terms as mayor of London, promoting himself as a pro-EU liberal, an attitude he left as soon as the Brexit vote came.
He became the “abandoned” campaign’s galleon figure, exploiting his popular image as an unconventional but sympathetic villain as the fastest way to power.
His former editor at the Telegraph, Max Hastings, described it as cynical – but not unexpected. Johnson, he said, “cares no interest except for his own fame and satisfaction.”
On Wednesday, while Johnson’s calls were coming, Hastings wrote in The Times that the prime minister had “broken any decency rule, and made no attempt to pursue a coherent political agenda beyond Brexit.”
But he was “the same moral bankruptcy as when the Conservative Party elected him, as fragile in his performance of office as in his leadership of his life.”
“We now need a prime minister who will restore the dignity and self-respect of the country and its system of government,” he added.