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"You can't rule out the possibility that beneath the carefully constructed veneer of a blithering idiot there lurks a blithering idiot."

Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson MP (born 19 June 1964 in New York City), sometimes nicknamed "BoJo" and commonly known simply as "Boris," is a British Conservative politician, former Prime Minister of the United Kingdom from 2019 to 2022, the former Mayor of London from 2008 to 2016, Member of Parliament for Uxbridge and South Ruislip since 2015 (and formerly for Henley from 2001 to 2008), the former Foreign Secretary from 2016 to 2018, as well as a journalist, novellist, historian, classicist and TV personality. Easily recognizable by his unruly mop of blond hair, general air of amiable distraction, and tendency to talk like somebody out of P. G. Wodehouse.

He was born in New York City to two British subjects, giving him dual US and UK citizenship.note  He attended Eton College and read Classics at Balliol College, Oxford, where he was elected president of the Oxford Union in 1986. In 1987 he went to work for The Times, but was fired by its editor for the false attribution of a quotation. In 1989, he became the Brussels correspondent, and later political columnist, for The Daily Telegraph, then became editor of The Spectator magazine, then came to major fame with an appearance on Have I Got News for You. Ian Hislop had a transcript of a phone call in which Johnson agreed to help an old school friend of his beat up another journalist, which Hislop used to mock Johnson, something which Johnson hadn't been expecting; following this, he claimed in his column that the show was entirely scripted. Later, he reappeared on the show to retract this, reassuring "all the little children out there" that the show was indeed entirely spontaneous, and admitting that he'd agreed to come back purely for the money. He also appeared later as a repeat guest host.


After being elected to Parliament for Henley in 2001, Johnson was a shadow minister under Conservative leaders Michael Howard and David Cameron. He was fired from his position as editor of The Spectator in 2005, after management became dissatisfied with his lacklustre performance. He resigned from the House of Commons in 2008 after he was elected mayor of London; he was re-elected as mayor in 2012. In the 2015 election, Johnson was elected MP for Uxbridge and South Ruislip; as a result, he did not seek re-election as mayor the following year. He became a prominent figure in the successful Vote Leave campaign for Brexit in the 2016 European Union membership referendum. Theresa May appointed him Foreign Secretary after the referendum; he resigned the position two years later in protest at May's approach to Brexit.


After May resigned in 2019, Johnson was elected Conservative leader and appointed prime minister. He re-opened Brexit negotiations and in early September controversially prorogued Parliament; the Supreme Court ruled the action unlawful later that month. After agreeing to a revised Brexit withdrawal agreement with the EU, but failing to win parliamentary support for the agreement, Johnson called a snap election for December 2019 in which he led the Conservative Party to victory with the party's largest seat share since Margaret Thatcher's final win in 1987. The United Kingdom withdrew from the EU on 31 January 2020, entering into a period of transition and trade negotiations. The COVID-19 Pandemic became a major issue of his premiership; the government responded with various emergency powers, introduced measures to mitigate its impact, and approved the rollout of a nationwide vaccination programme. Johnson was criticised by some scientists for his slow response to the outbreak, including his resistance to introducing lockdown measures, though was later praised by others for the successful implementation of the vaccination programme, as well as relaxing laws to allow fast development of a workable vaccine.

Ironically, while (at least some) people felt Johnson had permanently settled the "European question" that had ended the careers of so many of his Conservative predecessors (not only Cameron and May, but Harold Macmillan, Edward Heath, Thatcher, and John Major had foundered over Europe), he ultimately ended up losing power thanks to the other thing that had dogged his predecessors, namely sleaze. The first step towards his downfall came in November 2021, when he attempted to change the parliamentary standards rules in what was seen as an obvious effort to get ally Owen Paterson acquitted for a donations scandal, resulting in a massive backlash that forced Johnson to back down.note  He later became embroiled in a more serious controversy when it was revealed that during the pandemic, Johnson violated health restrictions on public gatherings by hosting parties in 10 Downing Street and other government buildings. Known as "Partygate", the scandal made him the first British prime minister to have been sanctioned for breaking the law while in office when he received a fixed penalty notice in April 2022 for breach of COVID-19 regulations. The publishing of a subsequent report on the scandal, and a widespread sense of dissatisfaction, led to a confidence vote among Conservative MPs on 6 June 2022, in which 211 supported Johnson and 148 opposed him.note 

Weeks later, he was forced from office by the Chris Pincher scandal, where he first denied knowing of allegations of sexual harassment by Pincher at the time he appointed him Deputy Chief Whip; then got other cabinet members to also tell the media that he didn't know about the allegations; then was forced to admit that he'd known about them all along. The ensuing mass resignations (62 MPs resigned from government positions in all, including 36 in a 24-hour period, a record in British history) finally forced him to announce his own departure. Despite Brexit being a huge part of his political legacy, he is the first Conservative PM since Alec Douglas-Home whose departure from Number 10 was not tied into Britain's relationship with Europe.

He was replaced as PM by the winner of the September 2022 Conservative Party leadership contest, Liz Truss, the UK's third woman to hold the office, two days before the passing of Queen Elizabeth II.

After his successor was forced out of office after a short and disastrous tenure, Johnson attempted to mount a comeback and declared his candidacy for the next leadership election. This was met with ambivalence within the Tory electorate. Some felt that he could get the country back on track as he could claim a mandate through his general election victory. Others felt that the general public would be reminded of his various failings and that this would put the Tories in an even weaker position after the Truss debacle. Ultimately, he withdrew from consideration despite previously declaring that he had the votes necessary to be in contention - a claim that was generally met with skepticism. Consequently, Rishi Sunak was acclaimed as leader of the Conservative Party on 24 October.

On a different note, he is one of the most ethnically mixed significant high-ranking politicians today, being not only English but American,note  French, German,note  Russian, and Turkish. He's the whole Crimean War in one messy blond package!

Books he has written

  • Friends, Voters, Countrymen: Jottings on the Stump (2001)
  • Johnson's Column (2003)
  • Lend Me Your Ears (2003)
  • Seventy-Two Virgins (2004)
  • Aspire Ever Higher/University Policy for the 21st Century (2006)
  • The Dream of Rome (2006)
  • Have I Got Views for You (2006)
  • Life in the Fast Lane: The Johnson Guide to Cars (2007)
  • The Perils of the Pushy Parents: A Cautionary Tale (2007)
  • Johnson's Life of London (2011)
  • The Churchill Factor: How One Man Made History (2014)

In Media

Johnson's political career has been the subject of several television docudramas:

Likewise, he has also been the subject of parody, mainly due to his bumbling mannerisms and distinctive hairstyle:

  • In the 2008–2012 children's TV cartoon Ben and Holly's Little Kingdom, the mayor of Fairy Town, voiced by Alexander Armstrong, is based on Johnson, who was mayor of London at the time.
  • Johnson is voiced by Lewis MacLeod in the fourth and fifth series of 2DTV.
  • MacLeod reprises his voice role as Johnson in the puppet/CGI sketch series Newzoids.
  • He is voiced by Jon Culshaw in Headcases. In it, Johnson is portrayed as a half-man half-dog who would engage in acts of canine behaviour, such as chasing his tail, rather than answering questions.
  • In 2019, James Corden portrayed Johnson in a sketch on Saturday Night Live.
  • In the 2020 revival of Spitting Image, Johnson's puppet is voiced by Matt Forde.
  • In The Undeclared War, set in 2024, Boris Johnson is mentioned to have been forced out of office 15 months before after losing a confidence vote. Ironically while the series was airing Boris Johnson did have to resign, even though he'd won a confidence vote just before the series began airing.
  • For the fifteenth anniversary of the Revival Series of Doctor Who, Russell T. Davies wrote an epilogue to his novelization of its debut story, "Rose", where the Nestene Consciousness merges with the corpse of a man heavily implied to be Johnson, who in-universe was killed during the Auton attack.

He has even been the subject of British music and music media:

  • Robbie Williams plays Boris in the music video for his 2020 festive single "Can't Stop Christmas".
  • Johnson is the subject of the 2020 song "Boris Johnson Is a Fucking Cunt" by Kunt and the Gang. It reached number five on the UK Singles Chart. The group released a sequel song, "Boris Johnson Is Still a Fucking Cunt", in 2021; it too reached number five in the chart.

Tropes applied to Boris Johnson's works and appearances in media:

  • Author Avatar: In the mid-noughties he wrote a novel called Seventy-Two Virgins, which stars "a tousled, bicycling Tory MP who believes everything is up for grabs". Sound familiar?
  • Colbert Bump: Johnson's appearance on an April 1998 episode of Have I Got News for You is credited as being what 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. 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.
  • First-Name Basis: Subverted. In media portrayals of him, he usually goes by the name "Boris", the only British political figure to be portrayed this way outside of the Royal Family. However, he started going by the name "Boris" when he arrived at Eton in 1977, prior to which he had gone by his actual first name "Alex" (his full name being Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson). Although "Boris" is treated as his first name, the trope that's actually in play in the media is therefore Middle Name Basis.
  • It's All About Me: One sceptical review of his book about Winston Churchill was subtitled "All about our greatest leader (plus a bit about Churchill)", because of the amount of time Johnson spent in the book talking about himself.
  • Obfuscating Stupidity: It's been stated many times that the aforementioned air of amiable distraction is very carefully cultivated.
  • Politician Guest-Star: He appeared so frequently on Have I Got News for You that they produced a DVD collection with his appearances called "The Full Boris".