Boris Johnson is tipped to remain Prime Minister after Thursday's general election despite a lifetime of lies, outrage and scandal.
The Tory former journalist has decades of experience in rubbing people up the wrong way.
Sometimes the results are reasonably harmless – or even funny.
But at other times, his behaviour has poisoned the well of democracy, raised questions over his honesty, and even endangered a British citizen in Iran.
You’ll have seen many of these 43 lies, gaffes and scandals before – but never all in one place.
While we’re not arguing they should, individually, have led to his sacking, the sheer weight shows a pattern of behaviour that shames our nation.
And they are a handy reminder of why you might want to think twice when heading to vote on Thursday 12 December.
The Times sacked Boris Johnson in 1988 for making up a quote in a front-page story.
The former journalist fabricated a claim by his godfather, academic Colin Lucas, that Edward II and his lover Piers Gaveston would have cavorted in a newly-discovered Rose Palace.
In what the 23-year-old later called “my biggest cock-up”, it emerged the Palace was only built long after Gaveston was murdered.
Rather than admit his lie Mr Johnson wrote a further story saying “the mystery had deepened”.
He admitted in 2013: “I mildly sandpapered something somebody said, and yes it’s very embarrassing and I’m very sorry about it.”
2. When he was sacked for lying about an affair
By 2004, by now MP for Henley, Boris Johnson was hit by another storm that cost his job.
He was sacked as Tory vice chair and Shadow Arts Minister after aides to leader Michael Howard decided he had lied about an affair.
Mr Johnson had denied reports of a four-year fling with journalist Petronella Wyatt, saying: “I have not had an affair with Petronella. It is complete balderdash.”
But her mother said the affair did happen – and Petronella had an abortion as a result.
Lady Verushka Wyatt added: “The reason she went out with him was because he said he was going to marry her.”
Mr Johnson has since stayed quiet, saying in 2013: “I don’t propose to go into all that again.”
But Ms Wyatt admits the pair had a “tendresse”. Michael Howard added: “My director of communications at the time was convinced Boris had lied to him.”
3. When he discussed having a journalist beaten up
Boris Johnson was secretly recorded in 1990 in a phone call with former Eton pal Darius Guppy, who was jailed for five years in 1993 for his part in an insurance fraud.
Mr Guppy wanted contact details for News of the World journalist Stuart Collier, who was investigating his affairs. “There is nothing which I won't do to get my revenge,” he said.
Asked by Mr Johnson “how badly are you going to hurt this guy”, he replied the journalist “will not be seriously hurt” but “will probably get a couple of black eyes and… a cracked rib.”
Mr Johnson could be heard seeking assurances he would not get in "trouble" before saying: "OK, Darrie, I said I'll do it."
No attack ever took place and Mr Johnson said in 2013 he was just “humouring” his old pal.
But Mr Collier, now 69, said he feared for his family and called on the new Prime Minister to apologise.
4. When he endangered a British mum jailed in Iran
Boris Johnson worsened the plight of Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe in loose comments he made as Foreign Secretary in 2017.
He wrongly told MPs the British mum, held in Iran on spying charges, was “teaching people journalism”.
That undermined her defence that she was on holiday – one backed up by her employers.
Four days after Mr Johnson’s comments she was threatened with five more years’ jail on charges of “propaganda against the regime”.
Mr Johnson dodged blame, saying his comments "didn’t, I think, make any difference" to the time she spent in jail.
But Nazanin’s husband Richard Ratcliffe said: “Of course they had consequences.”
5. When he called black people 'piccannies'
Boris Johnson branded black people ‘piccaninnies’ with ‘watermelon smiles’ in 2002.
He wrote in the Telegraph: "It is said that the Queen has come to love the Commonwealth, partly because it supplies her with regular cheering crowds of flag-waving piccaninnies."
Speaking of Tony Blair ’s trip to the Democratic Republic of Congo, he said: “No doubt the AK47s will fall silent, and the pangas will stop their hacking of human flesh.
“And the tribal warriors will all break out in watermelon smiles to see the big white chief touch down in his big white British taxpayer-funded bird.”
Mr Johnson later defended his comments, branding them “wholly satirical”.
But Labour ’s equalities chief Dawn Butler said the racist comments made him "unfit to be Prime Minister".
6. When he mocked Muslim women as 'letterboxes'
In August 2018 he branded Muslim face veils “oppressive”, “weird and bullying” and said it was “absolutely ridiculous that people should choose to go around looking like letterboxes."
Any female student who turned up to school "looking like a bank robber" should be asked to remove their face covering, he added.
He went on to argue against banning the burqa in public, but his snide remarks prompted outrage, including from senior Tories.
He refused to apologise and was cleared of breaching the Conservative Party code of conduct.
7. When he used racist terms to describe Barack Obama
The MP indulged in a racist description of Barack Obama at the height of the EU referendum in 2016.
He claimed a bust of Winston Churchill in the Oval Office had been removed around the time the US President moved in.
He remarked: “Some said it was a symbol of the part-Kenyan President's ancestral dislike of the British Empire, of which Churchill had been such a fervent defender."
Those condemning his “nasty” comments included Winston Churchill’s Tory grandson.
And Barack Obama – who was born in the US – revealed he had actually moved the bust to a prime spot outside his private office, saying: "I love Winston Churchill. Love the guy."
8. When he propagated the £350m-a-week Brexit lie
Boris Johnson was a figurehead of the 2016 Vote Leave campaign, fuelling their lie that the UK sent the EU £350million a week.
He rode the infamous battle bus emblazoned with the figure and appeared in front of a banner that said: “Let’s give our NHS the £350million the EU takes every week.”
The UK Statistics Authority said the figure was £285m a week, without factoring EU payments to the UK. With only the most basic EU payments (directly to the UK public sector) factored in, that dropped to £190m.
Yet the MP carried on using the debunked figure for more than a year. In a damning rebuke the Statistics Authority told him it was a “clear misuse of official statistics”.
9. When he said Turkey was joining the EU – then lied about it
Vote Leave was accused of misleading scaremongering in 2016 for running an ad campaign that said: "Turkey (population 76million) is joining the EU".
In fact, Turkey had been trying to join for decades, had yet to meet many requirements, and Britain could veto its membership.
Boris Johnson – who has Turkish ancestry – later claimed “I didn’t make any remarks about Turkey” in the referendum.
But this was untrue. He said in a BBC debate two days before the vote: “Last time I looked the government wants to accelerate Turkish membership.”
He was also in the “core group” of the campaign committee for Vote Leave. Former Vote Leave director Dominic Cummings claimed Mr Johnson helped secure 650,000 votes by “picking up the baseball bat marked ‘Turkey/NHS/£350 million’ with five weeks to go”.
10. When he repeatedly ignored conflict-of-interest rules
Boris Johnson broke rules on financial interests three times in less than a year.
He breached the Ministerial Code in August 2018 by starting a £275,000-a-year newspaper column just three days after quitting as Foreign Secretary.
In December he was ordered to apologise for failing to declare £52,723 of income on time.
And in April 2019 he was 11 months late registering his 20% share in a property in Somerset.
Parliament’s Standards Commissioner accused him of a “lack of respect” for the system adding: "I do not accept that this was an inadvertent breach of the rules."
11. When he blew millions on his Garden Bridge ‘vanity project’
As mayor, Boris Johnson backed a failed plan for a “floating paradise” across the River Thames that blew £43million of public money.
The Garden Bridge was beset by controversy from the start until it was finally scrapped by his successor Sadiq Khan in 2017.
As costs spiralled critics blasted the link for being privately run, yet publicly-subsidised, while there was a more pressing need for Thames crossings elsewhere.
Yet Boris Johnson was a doughty defender of the “vanity project” – even making a secretive trip to San Francisco in 2013 in a bid to get Apple to sponsor it.
12. When he wasted £300,000 on illegal water cannon
As London mayor he paid £322,000 for three second-hand water cannon devices after the 2014 riots.
The bill included £32,004 for low emission zone compliance, £19,035 for re-painting and almost £1,000 to fit CD players.
But he bought them before they had been licensed for use in Britain.
And they were left to rust in a police firing range after their use was ruled illegal by then-Home Secretary Theresa May .
Finally in 2018 they were sold for scrap – for the princely sum of £11,025.
13. When his expensive buses became a ‘saunas on wheels’
For millions of Londoners, his most irritating vanity project is the ‘New Routemaster’ bus.
The flashy vehicles were designed by Thomas Heatherwick, the same studio behind the ill-fated Garden Bridge (see above).
At £325,000 a pop, they cost almost double a conventional double-decker.
Yet they had to be retrofitted with openable windows after stifling conditions led them to be branded “saunas on wheels”.
New orders were discontinued by his successor Sadiq Khan in 2017.
14. When he had a blazing row with his partner in her flat
Police were called to the flat Boris Johnson, 55, shared with 31-year-old girlfriend Carrie Symonds after a blazing row in June.
Neighbour Tom Penn dialled 999 after he heard the words "get off me" and "get out of my flat”, as well as "a loud scream and banging, followed by silence."
He then handed a tape of the incident to the Guardian newspaper – prompting a furious backlash from Boris Johnson supporters.
Boris Johnson refused to comment on the incident.
But he was accused of hypocrisy when a “staged” loved-up photo of him and Ms Symonds was then leaked to the press.
15. When we didn’t know how many children he has (and still don’t)
It seems more like a row from the Victorian era, but we have a Prime Minister who refuses to say how many children he has.
Boris Johnson split from wife Marina Wheeler. The couple, who married in 1993, have four children together – Lara, Milo Arthur, Cassia Peaches, and Theodore Apollo.
But he has had multiple affairs, including the one with Petronella Wyatt (above) which led to a pregnancy that was terminated.
And a 2013 court ruling said the public were entitled to know about claims that one affair – with art consultant Helen Macintyre – resulted in a daughter who was his.
The child's family had sought to stop the father being named. But the Court of Appeal said: “The core information in this story, namely that the father had an adulterous affair with the mother, deceiving both his wife and the mother's partner and that the claimant, born about nine months later, was likely to be the father's child, was a public interest matter which the electorate was entitled to know when considering his fitness for high public office."
16. When he called gay men 'tank-topped bum boys'
In a 1998 Telegraph column about Peter Mandelson's resignation, Johnson said the announcement would lead to the blubbing of “tank-topped bumboys" in "the Ministry of Sound" nightclub.
Two years later in a Spectator article, he attacked what he called "Labour's appalling agenda, encouraging the teaching of homosexuality in schools, and all the rest of it."
And in a 2002 book he said: “If gay marriage was OK… I saw no reason in principle why a union should not be consecrated between three men, as well as two men, or indeed three men and a dog.”
He has refused to apologise for the “bum boys” comments.
While running for leader he said: “The quotations have been wrenched out of context, in many cases made to mean the opposite of what was intended, and actually look at my record whilst I was Mayor of London.”
17. When he made a glib remark about ‘dead bodies' in Libya
The then-Foreign Secretary was slammed in 2017 for saying the Libyan city of Sirte had a bright future – as soon as they "clear the dead bodies away".
The crass gaffe drew gasps at an event during the Conservative Party conference.
"They've got a brilliant vision to turn Sirte, with the help of the municipality of Sirte, to turn it into the next Dubai,” he said. "The only thing they've got to do is clear the dead bodies away and then we'll be there."
Thousands have died since Libya's civil war broke out in 2011, and ISIS militants seized control of the coastal city of Sirte in 2015.
Shadow Foreign Secretary Emily Thornberry said Mr Johnson's "crass, callous and cruel" joke was a "disgrace" and he should have been sacked. But he kept his job.
18. When he recited a colonial-era poem in Myanmar
Boris Johnson was scolded through gritted teeth by Britain’s Ambassador to Myanmar when he recited a pro-Colonial poem in a sacred Buddhist temple.
In an incredible diplomatic gaffe in 2017, he recited the opening verse to Rudyard Kipling's The Road to Mandalay at the Shwedagon Pagoda in Myanmar's capital Yangon.
Kipling’s poem captures the nostalgia of a retired serviceman looking back on his colonial service and a Burmese girl he kissed.
The ambassador, Andrew Patrick, said between gritted teeth "probably not a good idea" and added: "Not appropriate".
19. When he boasted about whisky in a Sikh temple
The Foreign Secretary was berated at a Sikh temple for talking about whisky exports to India – despite alcohol being forbidden in the faith.
He said at the Bristol temple in 2017: “Whenever we go to India, to Mumbai or to Delhi, we have to bring ‘clinkie’ in our luggage.
“We have to bring Johnnie Walker, we have to bring whisky because as you may know there is a duty of 150% in India on imports of Scotch whisky so we have to bring it in duty free for our relatives. But imagine what we could do if there was a free trade deal with India – which there will be.”
A voter was described as "absolutely livid" after telling the gaffe-prone Tory, who was wearing an orange turban, that it was against Sikhism.
The woman reportedly told Mr Johnson: "How dare you talk about alcohol in a Sikh temple?"
20. When he wrote a dirty limerick about Turkey’s President and a goat
Boris Johnson won a £1,000 prize in 2016 for the most offensive poem about the hugely controversial Turkish leader Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
His limerick declared: “There was a young fellow from Ankara, Who was a terrific w***erer. Till he sowed his wild oats, With the help of a goat, But he didn’t even stop to thankera.”
Mr Johnson, who has a Turkish grandfather, later met the President and was asked by journalists if he would like to apologise.
But he replied that such ‘trivia’ had not been raised during his visit.
21. When he insulted the entire city of Liverpool
Tory leader Michael Howard forced the MP to visit Liverpool to apologise in 2004 after he blamed fans for Hillsborough – and accused citizens of “wallowing in victim status”.
The Spectator – which he was editing at the time – printed an editorial saying the tragedy was “no excuse for Liverpool’s failure to acknowledge, even to this day, the part played in the disaster by drunken fans at the back of the crowd who mindlessly tried to fight their way into the ground that Saturday afternoon.”
Smearing Liverpudlians the editorial added: “They see themselves whenever possible as victims, and resent their victim status; yet at the same time they wallow in it.”
An independent report and the 2016 inquests ruled there was nothing to suggest fans’ behaviour contributed to the disaster.
In 2012 Mr Johnson apologised again, admitting claims about football fans' behaviour were a “lie”.
22. When he insulted the entire country of Papua New Guinea
Boris Johnson apologised to the entire country of Papua New Guinea in 2006 for joking about their "orgies of cannibalism."
The then shadow higher education minister wrote in the Telegraph: "For 10 years we in the Tory Party have become used to Papua New Guinea-style orgies of cannibalism and chief-killing."
But Papua New Guinea's High Commissioner in London, Jean L Kekedo, branded the remarks "an insult" to her nation's "integrity and intelligence".
She added: "I am shocked and appalled by such comments from a seemingly well-educated person."
Mr Johnson later said: "I meant no insult to the people of Papua New Guinea who I'm sure lead lives of blameless bourgeois domesticity in common with the rest of us."
23. When he said Africa needs its old Colonial powers to come back
The former journalist wrote a lengthy Spectator column in 2002 headlined "cancel the guilt trip".
It argued Africa "is a mess" with "too many people dying" but it was unfair to blame the bloody legacy of British colonialism.
He said Tony Blair should not "wring his hands" but instead encourage more tourism to the continent.
He concluded: "The best fate for Africa would be if the old colonial powers, or their citizens, scrambled once again in her direction; on the understanding that this time they will not be asked to feel guilty."
Showing the supposed superiority of those "colonial powers" 14 years later, he memorably called Africa "that country". Africa is a continent of more than 50 countries.
24. When he claimed money probing child abuse was 'spaffed up a wall'
In March 2019, Boris Johnson has said police spending on child sexual abuse investigations was "spaffed up a wall".
The former Foreign Secretary said: "Keeping numbers high on the streets is certainly important. But it depends where you spend the money and where you deploy the officers.
"And one comment I would make is I think an awful lot of money and an awful lot of police time now goes into these historic offences and all this malarkey.
"You know, £60 million I saw was being spaffed up a wall on some investigation into historic child abuse."
Labour demanded an apology, saying his "disgusting" remarks were an "insult to every survivor of child sex abuse."
And the NSPCC said the former Foreign Secretary’s language was “crass.”
25. When he tried to dodge questions over using cocaine
In June 2019, Boris Johnson appeared to finally admit taking cocaine aged 19 after repeatedly refusing to give a straight answer.
Asked directly when he last used the Class A drug, the Tory leadership frontrunner replied by saying a "single inconclusive event" when he was a teenager.
Asked if he had taken cocaine since then, he replied: "No."
He had given conflicting accounts of the incident in previous years. He admitted in 2005 he was given cocaine but “may have been doing icing sugar” and it did not go up his nose.
Two years later, he told GQ magazine: “I tried it at university and I remember it vividly. And it achieved no pharmacological, psychotropical or any other effect on me whatsoever.”
Asked whether it had gone up his nose, he added: “It must have done, yes, but it didn’t do much for me, I can tell you.”
26. When he ‘made up’ a story about small Italian penises
As the Daily Telegraph's Brussels correspondent in 1991, he wrote a story claiming EU chiefs had rejected Italian demands for a smaller minimum condom width.
Mr Johnson claimed the decision had left "Italian egos smarting". But aptly-named former top EU chief Willy Hélin told The Guardian the story was a "load of bulls***".
"We had had requests from medical institutions across Europe to check on the safety of condoms," he said. "That has nothing to do with the size of dicks."
It’s not just about one story. While in Brussels Mr Johnson popularised a new style of anti-EU journalism, sidelining the full truth to paint the EU as feckless and inefficient, and sowing seeds of resentment that helped cause Brexit 25 years later.
27. When he enraged Italy with a threat about Prosecco
Boris Johnson angered Italy in 2016 by threatening to stop buying Prosecco in a bad Brexit deal.
"We drink more Italian wine than any other country in Europe – 300m litres of Prosecco every year,” he said. “They are not going to put that at risk.”
But Economy minister Carlo Calenda branded the Foreign Secretary's approach "insulting" and "wishful thinking".
He sad: "I said 'yeah, maybe we're going to lose some Prosecco. You're going to lose some fish and chips exports. The difference is I'm going to lose to one country – you to 27.'"
28. When he called the French ‘turds’ who ‘shafted Britain’
In June 2019 it was claimed Boris Johnson branded the French "turds" who "shafted Britain" over Brexit.
He made the remark, during filming for a BBC documentary, out of frustration over France refusing a better deal.
According to the Daily Mail, the BBC removed the word "turds" from the finished documentary at the request of the Foreign Office.
A leaked Whitehall memo allegedly said the remark becoming public would make Anglo-French relations “awkward.”
He refused to deny making the slur, saying with a grin: “I have no recollection of this comment.”
29. When he compared the EU to Adolf Hitler
During the 2016 EU referendum campaign Boris Johnson compared the EU to Adolf Hitler – saying they both wanted a united Europe.
“Napoleon, Hitler, various people tried this out, and it ends tragically,” he wrote. “The EU is an attempt to do this by different methods.”
Hilary Benn, who was the shadow foreign secretary, said the comparison was "offensive and desperate".
But Boris Johnson refused to apologise over what he called an “artificial media twit storm”.
30. When he proclaimed ‘f*** business’
Boris Johnson ranted “f*** business” over Brexit at a reception to mark the Queen's birthday.
The Foreign Secretary was said to have uttered the reply in 2018, at an event for EU diplomats, when he was asked about business leaders' fears over leaving the EU.
He and allies repeatedly refused to deny using the phrase.
Instead a source said he was “attacking lobbyists like the EU-funded CBI who are more interested in doing what's right for big multinational corporations."
31. When he allegedly said ‘f*** the families’ of the 7/7 bombings
Another alleged outburst came when he was Mayor of London and being briefed about the cost of inquests into the 2005 London terror attacks, which killed 52.
Brian Coleman, who was chair of the London Fire and Emergency Planning Authority, claims Boris Johnson erupted in fury and said: “F*** the families! F*** the families!”
A second source told the Sunday Mirror he was certain Boris used the offensive words.
But a third source, at the meeting, disputed Mr Coleman’s account.
There was no comment from the Tory MP at the time of the Sunday Mirror’s report in June.
32. When he derailed a visit to the Middle East
The then-mayor of London prompted a diplomatic storm in 2015 during a trip to Israel.
His visit to the West Bank was cut short, with invitations withdrawn, after he denounced calls for a boycott of the Middle Eastern country over its treatment of Palestinians.
He claimed boycott calls were by “corduroy-wearing, snaggle-toothed lefty academics”.
He refused to back down, saying: "When you say something that is true but controversial, there is a danger of people reacting badly. The crucial thing is to stick to your guns.”
33. When he branded Hillary Clinton a ‘sadistic mental health nurse’
Boris Johnson compared Hillary Clinton to a “sadistic” mental health nurse in a 2007 column.
Saying he wanted her to be President, he wrote: “She's got dyed blonde hair and pouty lips, and a steely blue stare, like a sadistic nurse in a mental hospital.”
After becoming Foreign Secretary he was grilled on the comment in his first joint press conference with US Secretary of State John Kerry.
But he said: “It would really take me too long to engage in a full global itinerary of apology.”
34. When he cosied up to a President he called ‘unfit to rule’
Boris Johnson has cosied up to Donald Trump in a U-turn on his comments in 2015.
Back then he said the then-Presidential candidate was "clearly out of his mind", "stupefyingly ignorant", "unfit to be President" and "playing the game of terrorists".
He even added: "I would invite him to come and see the whole of London and take him round the city. Except I wouldn't want to expose Londoners to any unnecessary risk of meeting Donald Trump."
It came after Trump claimed parts of London were "no-go areas" for police due to large Muslim communities.
Boris Johnson has since insisted he will “stand up for” British interests. But his various U-turns raise questions over which Boris Johnson we’ll see in office. As shown by…
35. When he refused to back our Ambassador to the US
Boris Johnson faced a storm in July 2019 for refusing to stand up for Britain's Ambassador to the US.
Sir Kim Darroch quit after Mr Johnson failed to promise he could keep his job over leaked memos about the "inept" White House.
Mr Johnson – who stands to gain by installing a more pro-Brexit envoy – was accused by a serving Foreign Office minister of throwing the diplomat “under the bus”.
He later confessed he was a "factor" in the diplomat's resignation, adding: "I probably should have been more emphatic that Kim personally had my full support."
36. When he took a £20,000 flight to avoid scrutiny on Heathrow Airport
As Foreign Secretary he blew more than £20,000 of taxpayers’ cash on a visit to Kabul – conveniently timed to miss a Commons vote on expanding Heathrow Airport.
In 2015 Boris Johnson – whose constituency is near the hub – promised to lay down before the bulldozers to stop a third runway.
But his trip to Afghanistan meant he didn’t have to vote one way or the other – a decision which could have prompted either constituents’ fury or a sacking from the Cabinet.
Mr Johnson has since weakened his opposition to Heathrow. In June 2019 he only said he had “grave reservations” rather than vowing to block it.
37. When be branded his £250k-a-year pocket money ‘chicken feed’
Millionaire Boris Johnson’s huge wealth leads to claims he is out of touch with what ordinary Brits face.
He made more than £700,000 in earnings alongside his job as an MP through the year after he quit as Foreign Secretary.
They included a £275,000-a-year column in the Daily Telegraph and more than £400,000 for speeches, including £42,580 for a single speech promoting a No Deal Brexit .
In 2009 he described his column, which at the time paid £250,000, as “chicken feed”.
And in July 2019 he claimed he’d set aside “self-interest” by giving up these outside earnings when he becomes Prime Minister.
He said: “It is obviously possible to make more money by not being a full time politician.”
38. When he was accused of a major conflict of interest
A string of ethics probes were launched into Boris Johnson in September 2019 after the Sunday Times revealed his friendship with the model-turned-tech entrepreneur Jennifer Arcuri.
The London Assembly – whose rules forbid favourable treatment to friends – launched an investigation after the relatively novice American went on three trade missions Mr Johnson led as mayor in 2014 and 2015.
Ms Arcuri – who repeatedly refused to deny having sex with the now-PM – admitted Mr Johnson visited her combined flat and office in Shoreditch a "handful" of times.
She said: "We tried having drinks out in public or having lunch, it just became too much of a mob show, so I said 'you just have to come to my office'."
Yet the PM was branded “unfit for office” after insisting there was “no interest to declare”.
She was also given a £100,000 grant from the government though this was ruled “appropriate” following an investigation.
39. When he purged Churchill’s grandson from the Tories to shore up his base
The Prime Minister faced outrage in September 2019 when he brutally purged some of the longest-serving Tories from the party.
Winston Churchill’s grandson Sir Nicholas Soames and longest-serving MP Ken Clarke were among 21 who lost the whip – followed later by a 22nd, Amber Rudd.
Their crime? Backing a bid to delay Brexit beyond October 31 to prevent no-deal.
Just months earlier, the Conservative Party had been tolerant of these moderates who wanted to stop a disastrous crash-out from the EU.
But Boris Johnson cynically opted for the hardline approach to shore up the Brexit vote, despite his long history as actually a fairly liberal One Nation Tory.
Ten of the 21 were later let back in but Clarke and Soames quit before the election.
40. When he kept trying to use public money to attack Labour in the election
Once the general election got under way in October 2019, it became clear Boris Johnson would use every trick in the book.
Not content with a furore over political comments he made standing in front of police cadets (one of whom fainted), he spent a day after an election was confirmed touring hospitals and police – paid for by public funds.
He was accused of misusing taxpayer cash too when he put out a string of Facebook adverts – later banned – which promoted left-behind towns.
And his bid to use Treasury civil servants to cost Labour’s policies was blocked at the last moment by the Cabinet Secretary Mark Sedwill.
41. When he unlawfully shut down Parliament (after promising he wouldn’t)
In September 2019, Boris Johnson was dealt a historic defeat. The Supreme Court ruled he broke the law to shut down Parliament over Brexit.
The PM faced rising demands to resign after the UK's highest court ruled unanimously that he acted unlawfully.
11 justices said shutting down the Commons for five weeks before the Brexit deadline – which he claimed was a bog standard prorogation – had an "extreme" effect on democracy.
Declaring the prorogation of Parliament "unlawful, void and of no effect", Supreme Court President Lady Hale declared: "Parliament has not been prorogued."
It was a humiliation for the PM, who was widely accused of misleading the Queen when he asked her permission to prorogue Parliament.
It also came after several assurances from No10 that prorogation wouldn’t happen.
42. When he swore on his life he wouldn’t ask for a Brexit extension (and then did)
In October 2019, MPs passed a law that forced Boris Johnson to ask for a three-month delay to Brexit beyond Halloween.
He had repeatedly, explicitly said he would not even ask for a delay, let alone get one.
He said "I will not" obey instructions to ask for a delay. He said there were "no circumstances" in which he's ask for one. He said he'd "never" beg for one. He told MPs simply: "I will not ask for another delay." And he said he'd rather "die in a ditch".
So once the law was passed he had a clear choice. Resign and keep his promise, or stay in office and break it.
It seems resigning was a ditch too far. He chose to break his promise.
In the end he did write to the EU asking for a delay – albeit in a childish publicity stunt where he refused to sign the letter and sent a second letter ignoring the first.
43. And finally… when he summed up why all this helps him stay in power
By now you may be wondering how Boris Johnson has continued to rise through the ranks despite a lifetime of lying, offending and blundering.
Perhaps the answer can be found in a quote from one Boris Johnson – praising the elections strategy of his supporter, the Aussie election guru Lynton Crosby.
He wrote in 2013: “Let us suppose you are losing an argument.
“The facts are overwhelmingly against you, and the more people focus on the reality the worse it is for you and your case.
“Your best bet in these circumstances is to perform a manoeuvre that a great campaigner describes as “throwing a dead cat on the table, mate”.
“That is because there is one thing that is absolutely certain about throwing a dead cat on the dining room table – and I don’t mean that people will be outraged, alarmed, disgusted.
“That is true, but irrelevant. The key point, says my Australian friend, is that everyone will shout ‘Jeez, mate, there’s a dead cat on the table!’.
“In other words they will be talking about the dead cat, the thing you want them to talk about, and they will not be talking about the issue that has been causing you so much grief.”
Well, quite. And if Boris Johnson is returned into Downing Street, we can surely expect many, many more murdered moggies to come.
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