Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson (born 19 June 1964) is a British politician serving as the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom and Leader of the Conservative Party since July 2019. He has been the Member of Parliament (MP) for Uxbridge and South Ruislip since 2015, and was the MP for Henley from 2001 to 2008. He also served as Mayor of London from 2008 to 2016, and as Foreign Secretary from 2016 to 2018. Johnson identifies as a one-nation conservative and has been associated with both economically and socially liberal policies.
Born in New York City to wealthy English parents, Johnson was educated at the European School, Brussels I, Ashdown House, and Eton College. He read Classics at Balliol College, Oxford, where he was elected President of the Oxford Union in 1986. He began his career in journalism at The Times but was sacked for falsifying a quotation. He later became The Daily Telegraph’s Brussels correspondent, with his articles exerting a strong influence on growing Eurosceptic sentiment among the British right-wing. He was assistant editor of the Telegraph from 1994 to 1999 and edited The Spectator from 1999 to 2005. He was elected MP for Henley in 2001, and served in the Shadow Cabinet under Conservative leaders Michael Howard and David Cameron. He largely adhered to the Conservatives’ party line but adopted a more socially liberal stance on issues like LGBT rights in parliamentary votes.
Selected as the Conservative candidate for the 2008 London mayoral election, Johnson defeated Labour incumbent Ken Livingstone and resigned from the British House of Commons. During his first term as Mayor of London, he banned alcohol consumption on much of the capital’s public transport, and introduced the New Routemaster buses, cycle hire scheme, and Thames cable car. In 2012 he was re-elected, again defeating Livingstone. During his second term, he oversaw the 2012 Olympics. In 2015 he was elected MP for Uxbridge and South Ruislip, stepping down as Mayor the following year. In 2016, Johnson became a prominent figure in the successful Vote Leave campaign for Brexit. He was subsequently appointed Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs by Theresa May, but resigned in criticism of May’s approach to Brexit and the Chequers Agreement two years later. In July 2019 he was elected Conservative Leader and appointed Prime Minister.
Johnson is a controversial figure within British politics and journalism. Supporters have praised him as an entertaining, humorous, and popular figure, with an appeal stretching beyond traditional Conservative voters. Conversely, he has been criticised by figures on both the left and the right, who have accused him of elitism, cronyism, dishonesty, laziness, and using racist and homophobic language. Johnson is the subject of several biographies and a number of fictionalised portrayals.