Boris Johnson Biography: Parents, Education, Career, Books, Wives, and Children

Boris Johnson began his career as a journalist before becoming a notable editor while also growing his political base as a Conservative MP. After winning London’s mayoral election in 2008, the famously disheveled politician championed the “Leave” movement in the Brexit referendum in 2016, before serving as Foreign Secretary for two years. Johnson, who was appointed prime minister in 2019, oversaw the United Kingdom’s exit from the European Union but was chastised for violating Covid-19 lockdown regulations and resigned in July 2022.

How Old Is Boris Johnson?

Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson was born in New York City on June 19, 1964.

Parents and Siblings

Johnson is the eldest child of Stanley, a politician, environmentalist, and author, and Charlotte, a painter.

His sister, Rachel, became a well-known journalist; his middle brother, Jo, became a member of Parliament and a government minister; and his youngest brother, Leo, went into finance. Johnson also has two half-siblings from Stanley’s second marriage, Maximilian and Julia.

Early Years and Education

Johnson had moved 32 times by the age of 14 as a result of his father’s diverse professional interests. The family visited London, where Johnson attended Primrose Hill Primary School, and Brussels, where he attended the European School.

Johnson was described as a quiet, studious youngster who was affected by a medical issue known as “glue ear,” which left him partially deaf until approximately the age of eight. He began to come out of his shell after being sent away to Ashdown House, an East Sussex boarding school where he studied ancient Greek and Latin and acquired a passion for rugby.

Johnson lost his first name at Eton College and developed a more outgoing demeanor. He was president of the debating society, captain of the school, and a member of the exclusive “Pop” group, but he also irritated faculty to the point where one housemaster denounced his “disgracefully flippant attitude.”

Johnson returned to England after a gap year spent teaching in Australia to study classics at the University of Oxford’s Balliol College. Before completing an upper second-class degree in 1987, he became president of the Oxford Union, co-edited the satirical newspaper Tributary, and joined the Bullingdon Club.

Journalist and Politician

Johnson began his media career as a graduate trainee for The Times before being fired the following year for attributing a false quote to his godfather, renowned academic Colin Lucas.

Johnson established a reputation as The Daily Telegraph’s Brussels correspondent for his overblown but humorous criticisms of the European Commission. Later, he compared the experience to “throwing these rocks over the garden wall and [hearing] this magnificent crash from the greenhouse next door over in England.”

Johnson worked as the Telegraph’s main political columnist and assistant editor from 1994 to 1999, and then as the editor of the right-wing journal The Spectator until 2005. At this time, he also started writing a regular automobile column for GQ and saw his celebrity rise as a result of well-received performances on the popular quiz show “Have I Got News for You.”

Johnson began his political career in 2001 as a Conservative MP from Henley, Oxfordshire. After being forced to resign as party vice-chair and shadow arts minister in 2004 for lying about an affair, he won reelection the following year and became shadow higher education minister under Tory leader David Cameron.

Mayor of London

When he was named the Conservative candidate for Mayor of London in 2007, Johnson had his first taste of international recognition for his unkempt appearance and eager yet clumsy ways. In 2008, he defeated Labour incumbent Ken Livingstone to become the city’s second elected mayor.

After a rocky start that saw several top aides leave, Johnson launched the “Boris bikes” bike-sharing program in 2010 and the new-and-improved “Boris bus” fleet in early 2012.

Despite criticism for his approach to the 2011 London riots, he defeated Livingstone and won a second term in power in 2012.

Johnson later oversaw the building of the ArcelorMittal Orbit observation tower and Emirates Air Line cable cars in time for the 2012 London Olympics, which created the iconic image of the mayor suspended above Victoria Park. Despite his efforts, other ambitious schemes, such as the “Boris Island” airport and the garden bridge across the River Thames, never materialized.

Brexit Campaign

Along with becoming the MP for Uxbridge and South Ruislip in 2015, Johnson spent his final weeks as mayor debating the difficult issue of Brexit, a referendum on whether the United Kingdom should remain a member of the European Union.

Johnson, who was initially undecided about which side to take, eventually emerged as the face of the “Brexit” campaign, directly opposing Prime Minister Cameron. His populist vision for an independent United Kingdom resonated with the voters, resulting in the historic vote to leave the European Union on June 23, 2016.

Johnson later began a candidacy to succeed Cameron as Conservative leader, but dropped out at the end of June, allowing Theresa May to take over as Prime Minister.

Foreign Secretary

Johnson, who was appointed as May’s secretary of state for foreign and Commonwealth affairs in July 2016, quickly caused controversy with his off-the-cuff remarks. He accused Saudi Arabia of “puppeteering and waging proxy wars” after initially justifying the supply of armaments to the Middle Eastern country. When a British-Iranian national was detained for spying in Iran, his mistaken assessment that she was “teaching” apparently strengthened the claims that she was distributing propaganda.

Johnson properly protected the country’s interests by condemning Russia’s alleged deployment of a lethal nerve toxin and supporting the Iran nuclear deal. But he also had a falling out with his boss over her attempts to negotiate the UK’s exit from the EU. Johnson resigned as foreign secretary in July 2018 after being dismayed by the suggested compromises.

U.K. Prime Minister

Johnson sought control of the party leadership again after May resigned in May 2019 due to an inability to reach a Brexit agreement. He won this time after promising to leave the EU by October 31, regardless of whether or not an agreement was in place, and took office as Prime Minister on July 24, 2019.

After asking Queen Elizabeth II to postpone Parliament until mid-October, Johnson swiftly found himself at differences with legislators, with critics accusing him of limiting the possibility for criticism to his Brexit proposals. Parliament then passed a law requiring the Prime Minister to request an extension to the UK’s departure date by October 19 if he was unable to reach an agreement with the EU or gain the requisite consent for a no-deal Brexit.

While Johnson was compelled to seek the extension, he was successful in presenting his argument to the public through a quick election. The Conservative Party won the December 2019 general election with the slogan “get Brexit done,” giving Johnson time to fine-tune the details of a final deal following the country’s formal exit from the EU on January 31, 2020.

Meanwhile, with the quick outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic that year, a new dilemma loomed. Johnson, who was first hesitant to restrict the flow of commerce and public engagement, finally announced the closing of stores and restaurants on March 20 before instituting stringent lockdown measures a few days later. After getting the virus at the end of the month, he ended up in intensive care.

Although the United Kingdom was the first Western country to approve a vaccine in December 2020, it also became the first European country to surpass 100,000 casualties from the illness in January 2021. During that year, a report lambasted the country’s “public health shortcomings” as a result of official delays in establishing social distancing norms.

Johnson’s issues were exacerbated in April 2022 when he was penalized for violating lockdown restrictions. The following month, he was cited as a major suspect in a scandal called “Partygate,” which involved a series of lockdown-defying party parties involving government personnel.

Following his survival of a no-confidence vote from party members in June, the revelation that Johnson was aware of sexual misconduct claims against deputy chief whip Chris Pincher sparked a wave of government resignations led by Chancellor Rishi Sunak and Health Secretary Sajid Javid. On July 7, 2022, Johnson resigned as Prime Minister in response to mounting pressure.

Despite the fact that former Foreign Secretary Liz Truss took over as party leader and prime minister, she, too, quit less than two months later following a series of public gaffes. Johnson, who was initially interested in reclaiming the role, withdrew his name from consideration just before Sunak was named the new PM on October 24, 2022.

Books

Johnson has written many books, beginning with Friends, Voters, Countrymen: Tales from the Campaign Trail (2001). Additional works include the novel Seventy-Two Virgins (2003), an investigation of antiquity in The Dream of Rome (2006), a collection of poems and drawings in The Perils of the Pushy Parents (2007), and the biography The Churchill Factor (2009). (2014).

Wives and Children

Johnson has had three marriages and has seven children. After meeting Allegra Mostyn-Owen at Oxford, the two married in 1987, only to have their marriage annulled in 1993. Johnson married lawyer Marina Wheeler that year, and they had two daughters, Lara and Cassia, as well as two sons, Milo and Theodore.

Johnson and Wheeler separated in 2018 after it was revealed that he had another daughter, Stephanie, with writer Helen MacIntyre. In 2021, the prime minister married public relations executive Carrie Symonds and welcomed son Wilfred and daughter Romy into his household.

 

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