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Monday July 22, 2024

The rise and fall of Boris Johnson

By AFP
July 08, 2022

LONDON: 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 of cabinet big hitters Rishi Sunak as finance minister and Sajid Javid as health secretary on Tuesday weakened the under-pressure prime minister just as he needed allies the most.

His expected departure on Thursday – after a tidal wave of resignations from his top team – 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 coronavirus 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.

Sonia Purnell, Johnson´s former Daily Telegraph colleague, suggested that Sunak and Javid may have realised what she and others have before 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 does let everyone down, at every point he really does mislead you.” 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”.