Inside the life of the man who would be PM

Mad, bad and dangerous to lead? Britain’s most colourful politician, with a long record of gaffes.

“World king,” he famously declared aged five, when asked his ambitions. With Teresa May on the brink, Boris Johnson is likely to be our next prime minister. Who is he and what makes him tick?

The biography. Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson (better known as Boris) went to Eton, a famous private school, and Oxford University.

Before entering politics as an MP in 2001, Johnson worked as a journalist. He was Mayor of London from 2008 to 2016, before serving as Foreign Secretary for two years.

The politics. Johnson’s political views are famously fuzzy. As London Mayor, he was known for eye-catching projects over clear policy. Now, he is one of the country’s leading Brexiteers, but his views on the European Union (EU) have changed several times over his career. These u-turns have prompted accusations that he puts ambition ahead of principles.

The personality. Boris’s disorganised, clownish character dates back to Eton, where a teacher said he amused audiences at school plays by never learning his lines.

Those close to him say he has few friends. “Like many loners, he has a compensating need to be liked,” wrote his ex-lover Petronella Wyatt.

The scandals. His career began with a scandal, when he was sacked by The Times for making up a quotation. In 1990, Johnson was recorded offering to help his friend Darius Guppy have someone beaten up.

Johnson’s many love affairs have become public knowledge, including one which produced a love child.

Premier or piffle?

Would Boris Johnson be a good prime minister? Not only have his careless remarks widely offended, but they endangered a British citizen imprisoned in Iran. Is he too clownish for real responsibility? Do his private scandals mean he is not trustworthy enough to be prime minister?

But his fans say no one else has the power to connect with the public, and win over voters from Labour and the Brexit Party. Could Johnson be just what’s needed to bulldoze a route through this Brexit mess?

You Decide

  1. Do you think Boris Johnson should be prime minister?

Activities

  1. Write down 10 words you associate with Boris Johnson. Discuss them as a class. What do your choices tell you about how the public sees him?

Some People Say...

“If we judged everybody by the stupid, unguarded things they blurt out to their nearest and dearest, then we wouldn’t ever get anywhere.”

Boris Johnson

What do you think?

Q & A

What do we know?
Theresa May is facing calls to resign after her “new Brexit deal” was poorly received by MPs. Boris Johnson has already declared that he would stand in a leadership competition.
What do we not know?
When Theresa May’s time will finally be up, and who will succeed her. She has survived a number of crises already.

Word Watch

Projects
Like Boris bikes and a proposed Garden Bridge (which was abandoned).
Brexiteers
Someone who supports Brexit.
Principles
Strong beliefs or morals.
Offended
In 2018, he was accused of racism after comparing women who wear burkhas to “letterboxes”.
British citizen
Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe is imprisoned for espionage in Iran. Speaking in the House of Commons, Johnson said she was “training journalists” in the country. Zaghari-Rafcliffe maintains she was simply visiting family.

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