In Summary
  • He is the embodiment of privilege, having attended the elite Eton College and Oxford University.
  • Johnson became an MP in 2001, but was sacked as Conservative Party arts spokesman in 2004 for lying about an extra-marital affair.
  • He started out as a journalist, writing for The Times, before being sacked for fabricating quotes.

London

Since coming to power in July, Boris Johnson has shed his image as a jovial, wisecracking mop head to reveal a ruthless streak that has marked him out since childhood.

But his high-stakes Brexit approach of leaving the EU on October 31 come what may has led to a series of defeats in parliament that have left him totally humiliated.

The man with a lifelong ambition to be prime minister – or "world king" in the words of his sister Rachel Johnson – could end up becoming Britain's shortest-serving leader.

COLOURFUL CAREER

With a colourful and chequered career in politics and journalism, Johnson was already the country's most recognisable politician when he took power in the midst of Britain's deepest political crisis since World War II.

Born Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson in New York in 1964, he is the embodiment of privilege, having attended the elite Eton College and Oxford University.

He started out as a journalist, writing for The Times, before being sacked for fabricating quotes.

Undeterred, he went on to become Brussels correspondent for the Daily Telegraph and eventually editor of the Spectator magazine.

He became an MP in 2001, but was sacked as Conservative Party arts spokesman in 2004 for lying about an extra-marital affair, demonstrating a fast-and-loose relationship with the truth that has dogged him throughout his career.

CELEBRITY STATUS

His personality-driven approach helped him develop a celebrity status and to score an unlikely victory by becoming the Conservative mayor of multi-ethnic, Labour-voting London.

But it has led to frequent criticism over his attention to detail and his ability to govern, particularly during his poorly-received spell as foreign minster.

"He's great on rhetoric but lousy on delivery," Steve Norris, a former Conservative candidate for London mayor told The Guardian newspaper.

A former colleague, who asked to remain anonymous, told AFP that Johnson was "very much 'big vision'.

"Once he got a team he trusted, he'd leave you to get on with it," he said.

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