Boris Johnson: Brexit hero under pressure
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British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has long defied political gravity, but hopes his signature optimism can sustain him despite the fallout from the coronavirus pandemic, Brexit and global supply issues.
Labor shortages and rising energy prices are fueling a cost of living crisis.
But he is expected to adopt an optimistic tone when he addresses the ruling Conservatives’ annual conference on Wednesday, in person for only the second time since becoming prime minister in 2019.
The previous 18 months have already been difficult after Britain’s Covid-19 death toll climbed to the highest in Europe and Johnson himself nearly died in the pandemic.
– Adversity –
Johnson, 57, became prime minister in July 2019, consolidating power six months later with a landslide general election victory on the promise to ‘Get Brexit Done’ – and reap the rewards.
But despite the deal on a trade deal with Brussels, the exit from the bloc – ending the free movement of people and workers – has been less than ordered and exacerbated by the pandemic.
A shortage of foreign workers, blocked by new post-Brexit immigration rules or Covid-19 travel restrictions, has caused staff shortages in several sectors, including transport.
It hit supply chains, leaving supermarket shelves empty and raising fears of a less than merry Christmas with turkeys and toys running out.
Meanwhile, with rising energy prices, Johnson has faced a backlash after breaking a campaign promise by raising taxes on workers from next April to fill budget deficits in healthcare. and social services.
But the Prime Minister, who admires powerful Tory predecessors such as Winston Churchill and Margaret Thatcher, has remained adamant that he is putting Britain on the path to prosperity.
As some members of his party grow worried about what the winter might bring, Johnson is counting on his innate positivity and wishes for future “sunny highlands” that still resonate with voters.
– ‘King of the world’ –
Alexander Boris of Pfeffel Johnson was born in New York in 1964. His sister said that as a child he wanted to become “king of the world”.
He spent part of his childhood in Brussels, the capital of the EU, where his father Stanley worked for the European Commission, then attended the elite Eton school in England before studying Greek and Latin at the University of Oxford.
In his biography “Boris Johnson: The Gambler”, released last October, journalist Tom Bower recounts the serial seduction that ended Johnson’s two marriages and his relaxed relationship with the truth.
Johnson is said to have at least six children, including a baby boy with his last wife Carrie Symonds, 33, who is also expecting their second child.
He first worked as a journalist for The Times, where he was fired for making up a quote, then became a Brussels correspondent for the Daily Telegraph newspaper.
There he made a name for himself writing “Euro-myths” – exaggerated claims about the EU such as alleged plans to standardize the size of condoms and bananas.
Johnson then entered politics but in 2004 was fired from the Tories’ shadow cabinet for lying about an extramarital affair.
He rallied to become mayor of Labor-voted, staunchly pro-European London in 2008, a feat commentators have attributed to his brazen refusal to abide by convention.
– The “lies” of Brexit –
Johnson felt torn about the way forward in the UK’s Brexit referendum in 2016, making a famous list of pros and cons of EU membership before throwing his political charisma behind the ‘leave’ campaign “.
His popularity and propensity for exaggeration helped tip the bitterly divided campaign, and he intervened in July 2019 to end the political paralysis that followed by taking control of the Conservative Party from Theresa May.
She resigned after failing three times to get her divorce deal with the EU through Parliament.
In less than six months, Johnson had renegotiated the deal, won the election and withdrew Britain from the EU.
“Those who did not take it seriously were wrong,” French President Emmanuel Macron said at the time. But he accused the Brexiteers of indulging in “lies and false promises”.
Even Conservative colleagues attacked Johnson’s perceived lie.
Former Attorney General Dominic Grieve described him as an “integrity vacuum” over a controversial renovation of his Downing Street apartment.
Johnson also has a long string of contentious remarks in the print media, attacking women, gays, blacks and Muslims.
© 2021 AFP