Regarded as one of Britain’s most eccentric and charismatic politicians, Boris Johnson, known as simply “Boris”, has established himself in British politics through service in Parliament, as the mayor of London, and as the current Foreign Secretary. Boris also played a major role in the Brexit vote, serving as the leading spokesman for the “Leave” campaign. Boris’s political experience and support within the Conservative Party indicate a possible run for Prime Minister within the next few years, a decision that could potentially influence both the future of Britain and the European Union.
During Boris’s time as the Mayor of London, he focused heavily on the improvement of public transport, the lowering of the city’s crime rate, and planning London's sucsessful 2012 Summer Olympics. However, Boris drew criticism for several indiscretions in office, with many arguing that Johnson was too foolish and unprepared to deal with major issues.
After his mayoral term ended in 2016, Boris returned to Parliament, with several political analysts predicting that he wished to take David Cameron’s role as Conservative Party leader and Prime Minister. Several months before the Brexit referendum, Boris publicly declared his support for the “Leave” campaign, and he quickly emerged as its primary representative. He famously left his hair unbrushed, and rode his bike around England to rally support for the "Leave" movement. When President Barack Obama urged the United Kingdom to stay in the European Union, Boris retaliated by claiming that Obama’s Kenyan ancestry caused anti-British feelings—comments that were regarded as racist by many. Following the success of the “Leave” campaign, and the subsequent resignation of Cameron as Prime Minister, Boris was expected to take Cameron’s position. However, the day before Johnson was scheduled to announce his candidacy, trusted ally Michael Gove, declared Boris unfit for the role, and announced his own campaign to run. Gove’s betrayal severely weakened Boris and he did not pursue the position.
Ensuing Theresa May’s appointment as Prime Minister, Boris was given the role of Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs. His appointment was surprising given his history of insensitive comments. During his time as Foreign Minister, Boris has expressed his support for the Saudi Arabian-led military operations in Yemen. Despite reports of Saudi Arabia’s breach of humanitarian law, Boris has refused to block weapons sales to the country.
These actions have resulted in the accusal of deterring a U.N. inquiry into Saudi Arabia’s actions, and Prime Minister May has stated that Boris’s views on Saudi Arabia do not reflect the British government’s position on the issue.
May’s comment represents the division in her cabinet, a major cause of her currently weak position in both the British government and negotiations with the European Union concerning Brexit. Boris has capitalized on her fading support through recent statements undermining May’s Brexit plans.
In an op-ed written last month by Boris, titled “My Vision for a Bold, Thriving Britain Enabled by Brexit," published in The Telegraph, he outlined his ideal plan for the United Kingdom’s process of leaving the European Union. Along with inspiring feelings of nationalism for many Brits, Boris’s piece stated that Britain’s formal departure from the E.U., scheduled to begin in March of 2019, should take no more than two years to complete. This argument directly contradicted May, who says the process may take longer.
Boris’s article almost certainly proves that he is positioning himself for the Prime Ministership, and that his position as foreign minister will not silence his views on Brexit—a key aspect of his political legacy. His “bold” and “thriving” vision for the United Kingdom’s future gives many Britons hopefulness and pride in their country. Boris recognizes what the people want in a leader, a strong voice during tumultuous times. Unlike his previous chance for Prime Minister, Boris’s op-ed and contradicting statements toward May indicate that he has more power and support within May’s Cabinet and the Conservative Party. Boris is presenting himself as a serious contender for Prime Minister, and if appointed or elected, would revolutionize the United Kingdom and the European Union.