Tuesday 27, September 2022
BN

Brexit to exit

News Desk: Boris Johnson rode his luck throughout his career, bouncing back from a succession of setbacks and scandals that would have sunk other less popular politicians.

But the luck of a man once likened to a "greased piglet" for his ability to escape controversies finally ran out, after a slew of high-profile resignations from his scandal-hit government.

The departure comes just three years after he took over from Theresa May in an internal Conservative leadership contest. He called a snap general election that December, winning the biggest Tory parliamentary majority since the heyday of Margaret Thatcher in the 1980s.

That allowed him to unblock years of political paralysis after the 2016 Brexit vote, to take Britain out of the European Union in January 2020.

But he has faced criticism since, from his handling of the Covid pandemic to allegations of corruption, cronyism, double standards and duplicity.

Some drew parallels between his governing style and his chaotic private life of three marriages, at least seven children and rumours of a host of affairs.

Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson had a conventional rise to power for a Conservative politician: first the elite Eton College, then Oxford University.

At Eton, his teachers bemoaned his "cavalier attitude" to his studies and the sense he gave that he should be treated as "an exception".

After university, he was sacked from The Times newspaper after making up a quote, then joined the Telegraph as its Brussels correspondent.

From there he fed the growing Conservative Euroscepticism of the 1990s with regular "euromyths" about supposed EU plans for a federal mega-state threatening British sovereignty.

He became an MP in 2004, with the Tory leader at the time, Michael Howard, sacking him from his shadow cabinet for lying about an extra-marital affair.

From 2008 to 2016 he served two terms as mayor of London, promoting himself as a pro-EU liberal, a stance which he abandoned as soon as the Brexit referendum came about.

His former editor at the Telegraph, Max Hastings, described it as cynical -- but not unexpected. Johnson, he said, "cares for no interest save his own fame and gratification".

On Wednesday, as calls mounted for Johnson to go, Hastings wrote in The Times that the prime minister had "broken every rule of decency".

But he was "the same moral bankrupt as when the Conservative party chose him, as shambolic in his conduct of office as in his management of his life".

"We now need a prime minister who will restore dignity and self-respect to the country and its governance," he added.

SK

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