Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson (born 19 June 1964) is a British politician, journalist, and popular historian who has been the Member of Parliament (MP) for Uxbridge and South Ruislip since 2015, having been the MP for Henley from 2001 to 2008. He was Mayor of London from 2008 to 2016, and from 2016 to 2018 he served as Foreign Secretary. A member of the Conservative Party, Johnson identifies as a one-nation conservative and has been associated with both economically and socially liberal policies. Johnson is a candidate for leader of the Conservative Party, and thus Prime Minister, in the 2019 leadership contest.
Born in New York to wealthy upper-middle class English parents, Johnson was educated at the European School of Brussels, 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 Conservative candidate for the 2008 London mayoral election, Johnson defeated Labour incumbent Ken Livingstone and resigned his seat in the House of Commons. During his first term as Mayor of London, he banned alcohol consumption on much of the capital's public transport, championed London's financial sector, 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 Summer 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 Vote Leave campaign for Brexit. Following the vote to withdraw from the European Union, Johnson was widely regarded as the front-runner to succeed Cameron as Prime Minister; however, he announced he would not stand in the 2016 leadership contest after Michael Gove, his campaign manager for his leadership bid, withdrew his support and announced his own candidacy. He was subsequently appointed Foreign Secretary by Theresa May, but resigned in criticism of May's approach to Brexit and the Chequers Agreement two years later.
Johnson is a controversial figure in British politics and journalism. Supporters have praised him as an entertaining, humorous, and popular figure with appeal beyond traditional Conservative voters. Conversely, he has been criticised by figures on both the left and 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.