Boris Johnson: A divisive politician with 'do or die' pledge over Brexit

LondonUpdated: Jul 23, 2019, 04:50 PM IST

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson. Photograph:(Reuters)

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Johnson was propelled into the major league of UK politics by his election in 2008 as mayor of London

Boris Johnson was on Tuesday elected leader of Britain's governing Conservative Party, winning the race to be the country's next prime minister. Johnson and his rival, Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt, spent the last month crossing the country seeking to win over the fewer than 200,000 Conservative Party members who will choose Britain's new leader.

Johnson will formally take over as prime minister on Wednesday afternoon, succeeding Theresa May, who stepped down over her failure to get parliament to ratify her Brexit deal. A former London mayor, Johnson resigned as foreign minister a year ago over May's Brexit plans.

He is a divisive politician known for his often bumbling persona and dishevelled mop of blond hair.

He recently broke the record for the most money raised by a British politician in his bid to become prime minister, winning the backing of eurosceptic financiers after hardening his Brexit stance with a "do or die" pledge.

Johnson was propelled into the major league of UK politics by his election in 2008 as mayor of London, a left-leaning city where he showed that he had sufficient popular appeal to cut across party lines and defeat a Labour incumbent.

Re-elected in 2012 for a second four-year term, Johnson has used City Hall as a platform to air his views on a range of subjects well beyond his mayoral remit, not least the EU, and to hone his personal brand, especially during the 2012 Olympics.

His critics say that he has often favoured style over substance, dedicating relatively little time to policy detail and pursuing other interests such as his well-paid regular Telegraph column and a recent book about Winston Churchill.

Having first been elected a Conservative member of parliament in 2001, Johnson quit his parliamentary position in 2008 when he first became mayor but was re-elected to the House of Commons in the 2015 general election, a move widely seen as a necessary first step towards a potential bid to replace David Cameron as prime minister.